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CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Legal > Felony Defense Attorney

Felony Defense Attorney Cost

How Much Does a Felony Defense Attorney Cost?

low costLow: Retainers Start Around $5,000-$10,000average costMedium: Some Lawyers Have a $5,000-$25,000 Minimumhigh costHigh: Serious Cases Can Run $25,000+

Felony crimes range from burglary, or grand theft to carjacking, assault, rape or murder. There are six classes of felony crimes. A Class 1 felony is the most serious, usually carrying a minimum life sentence, while a Class 6 felony generally has a minimum sentence of one year, according to[1] .

Typical costs:

  • The cost of hiring a criminal defense lawyer varies significantly in different areas, and is typically based on the nature and severity of the charges, the complexity of the case, the lawyer's years of experience and reputation, and the size of the law firm, among other factors. Some attorneys offer a free initial consultation to discuss the specific circumstances of your case and what their legal fees will be, while others charge $250-$500 or more for this session.
  • Although some criminal defense attorneys charge a flat fee for a specific type of case, for serious felony crimes most charge by the hour for all services, usually $100-$300 or more. To hire an attorney, you must pay an up-front fee called a retainer, which is based either on an estimated number of hours or on the flat fee. A lawyer working on an hourly basis deducts that hourly rate from the retainer as the work is done. When the retainer is gone, you will be billed for an additional payment. Retainers for felony crime cases start around $5,000-$10,000 but can be $25,000 or more for serious cases, according to[2] . Some lawyers charge a minimum fee of $5,000-$10,000 or more for felony crime cases, regardless of the actual hours worked.
  • If you are facing felony charges and can't afford to hire a lawyer, you are legally entitled to a lawyer at no charge to you. The judge will either assign a government public defender or appoint a private attorney to represent you. Nolo Press discusses how to get the court to appoint a lawyer and representing yourself.
Related articles: Expungement, Criminal Attorney

What should be included:
  • Sentences for those found guilty of felony crimes can range from fines and unsupervised probation to years of prison time. The American Bar Association describes the possible steps in a trial[3] and provides a diagram of how a case moves through the justice system[4] .
  • Your attorney is your guide through the legal process, and will be familiar with local court customs and procedures. Anything you tell your attorney is confidential, but your attorney cannot lie to the court for you or knowingly offer a false defense. explains what a criminal defense lawyer does[5] .
Additional costs:
  • Felony trials often require the testimony of expert witnesses, which can add $2,000-$7,000 or more that is not included in your attorney's fees.
  • Attorneys working on an hourly basis charge for any time spent answering your questions on the phone or by e-mail, as well as case-related expenses such as interviews, research or photocopies.
  • Attorneys working on a flat fee may have one price for pre-filing defense work (before any charges are filed against you in court), another flat fee for legal assistance up to the preliminary hearing, and yet another fee for representing you in a jury trial. If hiring an attorney on a flat fee basis, be sure you understand what is and is not included, and if there will be additional costs if your case goes to trial.
  • Court fees or fines vary widely depending on the charges and location, and are in addition to your attorney's fees.
Shopping for a felony defense attorney:
  • When you first meet with an attorney, know the exact charges against you, your court date, your bail amount and any other pertinent facts. Ask about the attorney's education, experience and area of specialty. The Monroe County Bar Association lists questions to ask a prospective felony defense attorney.
  • Check with the American Bar Association for lawyer referral services in your state[6] or search for a lawyer specializing in criminal defense in the Martindale-Hubbell Legal Network's Lawyer Locator[7] .
  • Your attorney will provide you with a written fee agreement. Read it before signing and keep a copy for your records. Be sure you understand what is covered, and any other fees and expenses you might have to pay.
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
FBI raid and felony criminal drug charges
Amount: $85,000.00 Total
Posted by: Markie in Paso Robles, CA.Posted: January 19th, 2022 10:01AM
Type of Case: Federal criminalFirm: Yanni/ smith
Fee Per Hour: $600
Not feeling this Attorney is doing a good job..
I honestly feel I might do better work,however not farmilar with law so.. I'm paying outrageous amounts of money to this lawyer to make simple communications "on my behalf"while my life flashes before my eyes..
He is about to ask for more money and I'm not seeing resolve anywhere in sight
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Criminal Case
Amount: $13,500.00 Total
Posted by: R J N in Phoenix, AZ.Posted: February 26th, 2021 10:02PM
Type of Case: felonyFirm:
Two felonies standard one is dropped if a plea is made. The attorney was not there for the 1st hearing and told me to use public defender till next court appearance. There were two more appearances in court and he was late for both of them. I think i would have gotten the same outcome and paid nothing for public defender. They really use FEAR to convince you they are your only hope. Then they played like they would not take the case because they thought I could not come up with the down payment of $5,000. Used my credit cards to pay then he upped the price but after I got mad and said it was not $5,500 he then lowered it again. I was happy with the outcome yet they put me almost into bankruptcy. They dropped my case now because I could not make full payments every month due to covid19. So I'm not sure what to do now about the case as I'm on probation till next January should I need further assistance I guess I'm out of luck.
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U thinks urs is bad.....
Amount: $50,000.00 Total
Posted by: So u think u overpaid that MF in Kailua Kona, HI.Posted: August 2nd, 2020 03:08PM
Type of Case: Felony federal caseFirm:
Fee Per Hour: 300
I haven’t been charged with a crime yet and he’s got me $8500 deep in gone retainer fee.
Been to his firm of “4 attorney's “4x
Made 2 calls for 3min or less each, sent two emails with a question each to paralegal/office lady cause she said too & maybe she can answer my question first if she knows it to save on retainer drawls..... , not knowing she was just forwarding em off to him when these easily could have been looked up online , forwarded email re “forfeiture”my crime cash.
So $8500 for this....
1st - 30 min meet to give 50k retainer and discussion of case w/ him talking only. ( didn’t hear or ask me about the events that landed me in his firm).
No receipt no retainer fee contract .
2nd - proofer sesh 1 with feds 2 hrs (1.20 to be exact but let’s just say 2) 3rd - proofer sesh 2 with feds 2 hrs
4th - 1hr meet for discussion of proofer .it was a 20min meeting
Called office 2x 1 to plead for cancellation of proofer2 (2min, 2nd
Called office to say I’m late for pr2.
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So far so good
Amount: $24,000.00 Total
Posted by: Ron Jeremy in Dallas, TX.Posted: July 10th, 2018 06:07PM
Fee Per Hour: N/A
8 felonies all though 5 are different drugs possessions in my Felony DWI. Most cost came from robbery and burglary. I have had court appointed lawyers in the past and hadn’t been in trouble for years and really turned my life around and have a good business so I can afford a good lawyer. My attorney is well reviewed and been practicing 20 years. I can already see a huge difference with paid lawyer versus court appointed in the level of service and he always takes my calls or gets back same day. Also they handle things SO fast. So far happy but my cases are still in the investigation phase so no indictments yet or offers or discussion of trial which I will push for if my lawyer says our case is strong
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I better not hear about another dime till this is over!
Amount: $20,000.00 Total
Posted by: Emby in Buena park, CA.Posted: May 5th, 2018 05:05PM
Fee Per Hour: TBD
I think, even for an attorney based out of Woodland Hills, Ca, that 20,000 for a retainer fee is extremely high. Even for a felony case. But since i have retained his services, my situation has now become situations. I am just beginning the entire court process, and for that amount, with one situation, i would expect to walk. But now being multiple (although bullshit charges) i just hope for the best and i pray that justice sees and does what is right. FTP!
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Confused about payments
Amount: $21,000.00 Total
Posted by: DidIPayTooMuch in Newport News, VA.Posted: October 6th, 2016 01:10PM
Type of Case: prechargeFirm:
Fee Per Hour: 525
The fee seems extraordinary considering no charges have been made yet. The $21,000 only covered negotiations in terms of cooperating with the prosecuting attorney. This doesn't cover the cost of the actual meeting with the prosecuting attorney.
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Amount: $35,000.00 Total
Posted by: Cheated by attorneys in St Louis, MO.Posted: June 29th, 2016 09:06PM
Fee Per Hour: Variez
Our family has paid $35,000 to 4 different lawyers in St. Louis county, Mo who have stolen our money and done little to no work on the case.
Each of them have told us the prosecutor of guilty of several brady violations and other forms of misconduct but none will act to report it. They claim the judge will do nothing about it. The defendant has been on kail for 3.5 yrs due to prosecutor lying to the judge to get his bail denied. These lies can easily be proven as such. All we need is an honest attorney who will gather and present the evidence and the defendant has an excellent chance of being found not guilty. He never should have been charged. We are afraid to hire another local attorney. What can we do??? This is insane!!! He has been accused of a crime he did not committ by a mentally ill serial accuser. We are dumbfounded that all the lawyers we have hired are crooks. The entire system here is crooked. Can anyone help?
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felony case
Amount: $2,500.00 Total
Posted by: a knowles in vidalia, LA.Posted: November 11th, 2015 04:11PM
Type of Case: armed robbery and aggravated batterFirm: public defense lawyer in the court house
Fee Per Hour: 150
all I need for my child to get his paper work straight go back to court for the judge to reconsideration his case the DA approve to be ok just need a lawery to get him back in court.
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Amount: $15,000.00 Total
Posted by: America Lost in minot, ND.Posted: August 19th, 2014 07:08AM
Family member charged with 7 felony accounts for a single act decided by the officer who took the report. The police report went to the AP and articles in tons of papers. Blown way out of proportion and one - sided. Who wins? Attorneys, courts and jails. It's all outrageous for anyone to go through what this person is. America is so lost to corrupted judicial system. Now we are paying basically an extorted fee for freedom. It's so wrong in so many ways.
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No offense but this page is way off
Amount: $1.00 Total
Posted by: a user in Fairfax, VA.Posted: August 24th, 2013 02:08AM
Fee Per Hour: 200 - 3 yrs post law school
I am a criminal defense lawyer in one of a prominent county in this country. I just want to say that some of the information on this page is not accurate in my market, which is northern Virginia. First of all, most criminal lawyers in my area require or strongly prefer a flat fee structure. But it is not as simple as you make it seem on this page. I will explain: the good defense lawyers I know, including myself, offer a set fee for a charge through preliminary hearing. Then, if the charge is reduced to a misdemeanor and set for trial in the general district court, an additional flat fee is due. A slightly higher fee is due if the charge is bound over to circuit court for trial by judge. And a higher fee is due if the case is to be tried by a jury. So, I think you should update this page, because simply put, many criminal lawyers do not use an hourly rate. I am a young defense lawyer with a solo practice, and I charge about 2000 for a single felony thru prelim only.
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I feel ripped off
Amount: $7,750.00 Total
Posted by: unhappy2005 in Buffalo, NY.Posted: April 26th, 2013 09:04AM
Fee Per Hour: N/A
I hired a lawyer for MY daughter she has 3 B Felonies and so far he has sent 2 different lawyers to show UP in COURT for HIM . They also stated they were not getting paid . They did it for a favor. So lawyer told me he charges $1,750 pre trial . There will be no trial. I want a opions if you find this a ludicrous as I do I hired. HIM paid and it's 3 months later she's still sitting in JAIL . He will not accept HER no cost to HIM phone calls he has not even went to see HER to discuss anything HER record is CLEAN except for past 9 months she was out of control . They raided HER house in November . HER children were taken away from HER . Thank GOD the state doesn't have them . MY dilemma is why has this lawyer no went to see HER . Nor accept HER calls he was at the JAIL she Seen HIM but he didnt even bother to see her. MY other dilemma Is , I have never recieved any reciepts . Or what I even paid HIM for . District attorney hates MY child , I can't afford to pay HIM another dime.
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Criminal defense attorney hired for unwarrranted arrest. Told 15k maax
Amount: $10.00 Total
Posted by: Anna P in Central islip, NY.Posted: April 15th, 2013 01:04AM
Type of Case: CriminalFirm: Steve politi
Fee Per Hour: Was told flat fee
I was never given an itemized bill for 10k in which I provided all the reports etc,. The only thing he did 6 months later wass file aan omnibus motion so he could go to trial aand get more money. He now wants me to sign a new retainer. Even though the 10k retainer was without trial and 15k with plus cost off experts. Too late to get someone new what do i do? I also have proof he disscussed. My case aand me with another client but aall the judges love him. Scared if i put him in his place he wont care to do well aat the trial
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lawyer stole from me
Amount: $6,000.00 Total
Posted by: jcmiramomntes in whittier, CA.Posted: December 27th, 2012 04:12AM
Type of Case: felony domestic abuseFirm: lisa meyers and assoc
Fee Per Hour: 250.00
I was arrested for felony domestic abuse. I hired an attorney and paid $6000.00 up front. I showed up to the arraignment by myself.My case was not even on the calendar. I contacted my attorney. She told ME.... to call the D.A. to see why I was not arraigned. Turns out the case was rejected for insufficient evidence. But my attorney will not refund any of my money..I did the work. help./ What can I do about this
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defense no attorny
Amount: $2,500.00 Total
Posted by: pdill85 in cassville, MO.Posted: February 16th, 2012 01:02AM
Type of Case: feloney type dFirm:
dont go to court with out a lawyer on any felony charges.... i dont care if you have to go bankrupt. its still cheaper to file bankrupt
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public defender
Amount: $300.00 Total
Posted by: pattyfaye62306 in quincy, IL.Posted: November 17th, 2011 04:11PM
Type of Case: felonyFirm: illinois
i was so called appointed a public defender and i had to apy for him when he did nothing for me if i seen tape on which they had i could of won my own case he was told wat to do by state att. office and i was told if i took a pee bargin and plea guity to one charge other felony wold be dropped and first time offese would be off my record for ever and now they said defeender didnt write that as such so now i ahve to pay for it to come off my records and wish i could find someone to help us in quincy , ill nothing legal here our own governor wont even come hereand state that adams country and that they make up rules and let
i could right a book on how i was treated and how i was promised things when talking to task pple i keep asking for a lawyer and stated i didnt need one and made me promises never keep so i was set out to give adams country 2700.00 4 really nothing and need someone to help me get this off my records ty
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Costs if you can't afford an attorney
Amount: $1,500.00 Total
Posted by: Max in Las Vegas, NV.Posted: May 11th, 2009 11:05AM
Type of Case: FelonyFirm:
The courts and a part of this article are misleading. The line above reads "If you are facing felony charges and can't afford to hire a lawyer, you are legally entitled to a lawyer at no charge to you." This is not always true. If you cannot afford an attorney, but you earn more than the minimum amount established by the state, you do NOT get an attorney "at no charge to you." The court can order you to appear with an attorney even if you cannot afford one. If you do not appear with an attorney, you can be held in contempt and jailed. In this case, you may lose your job, at which time you can then re-apply for, and be assigned, a public defender.
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