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How Much Do Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyers Cost

If youre searching for a Maryland criminal defense attorney, you probably want to know how much they charge. This article will explain how legal billing works.

The billing method a Maryland criminal defense lawyer uses can have just as big an impact on your bottom line as how much the lawyers charge. Most criminal defense lawyers in Maryland use one of two billing systems: the hourly fee or the flat fee. They are very different.

An hourly fee, also called an hourly rate, is just like it sounds. The lawyer bills you by the hour for his or her services. The longer your case takes to resolve, the more you will pay.

A flat fee is one price for the lawyers services. However, many other expenses, such as Maryland court fees, may not be included.

You also may have heard of a contingency fee. This is when you pay the lawyer based on the cases outcome. These fees are usually seen in personal injury lawsuits. Criminal lawyers do not offer a contingency fee because the profession considers it unethical for cases that may result in jail time or fines.

Whether you are in Gaithersburg or Baltimore or any other part of Maryland, rates among criminal defense lawyers are competitive. Be mindful that if you are facing criminal charges, however, you will not have much time to comparison shop legal fees.

You may attempt to talk a criminal lawyers fee down. However, negotiations must be conducted before you hire an attorney. Once you hire someone, it is too late to renegotiate a lower fee.

Besides the billing method, other factors will have an influence on the size of your legal bill, such as:

  • How much the lawyer charges
  • How long it takes to resolve your case
  • The amount of related legal expenses

No matter which billing method your Maryland criminal defense attorney prefers, you likely have to pay for expenses not included in the attorneys time. These expenses could be:

  • Any travel-related expenses
  • Photocopying
  • A paralegals time
  • An investigators time
  • The fee an expert witness charges

Hiring a Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer by the Hour

If you choose to hire a Maryland criminal defense attorney who charges by the hour, your attorney will probably also ask that you pay a retainer fee. This fee acts like a down payment for the legal services you are about to receive.

Youll probably then receive monthly statements for the number of hours the attorney worked on your case the previous month. You will be expected to pay these in a timely manner.

A lawyers hourly fee is influenced by several factors, such as:

  • The going rate in the area
  • How much experience the lawyer has
  • The cost of overhead to run the office or law firm

Youll find that Maryland criminal attorneys who bill by the hour break that hour into either 15- or 6-minute increments. That might not seem like much difference, but it can add up.

Take the example of a 5-minute phone conversation. If your attorney charges $200 an hour in 15-minute increments, that conversation cost you $50. However, if the same attorney breaks the hour into 6-minute increments, you only pay $20 for the same conversation.

Hiring a Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer on a Flat Fee

If you hire a Maryland criminal defense lawyer who charges a flat fee, you need to be crystal clear about what is included in the price and what is not. For example, court fees are often not part of the flat fee. You dont want an unfortunate surprise down the road.

Some Maryland criminal attorneys prefer a flat fee because its one way to guarantee that they will be paid. Ask your attorney when he or she expects payment, what forms of payment are acceptable, and if you can break the flat fee into smaller payments.

In addition, flat fees are rarely refundable. You could lose your money should you decide to switch attorneys in the middle of your case. If you have any doubts about an attorney who charges a flat fee, dont hire the lawyer until you have resolved them.

Here are some questions to ask a Maryland criminal who charges a flat fee:

  • How much is the flat fee?
  • Whats included in the fee? What is not?
  • Is it refundable?
  • Can you give me an estimate of how much I might pay in other legal expenses?
  • What kind of payment plans do you offer?
  • Is it possible to make payments after the case is resolved?

The Cost of Hiring a Maryland Criminal Attorney

Money is an important topic to discuss before you hire a lawyer. Here are some questions to ask while still in the interview stage of the attorney search:

  • Do you charge by the hour or ask for a flat fee?
  • What other expenses will I have to pay on top of the fee? Can I have an estimate for them?
  • Is there room for negotiation?

The answers to these questions will be unique to the lawyers and the circumstances you are facing. When the lawyers answer these questions, youll know exactly how much it costs to hire a Maryland criminal defense attorney.