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How Much Does a Seattle Defense Lawyer Cost?



If the police have recently arrested you, your first priority should be finding an attorney to represent you. This article will help you understand how much a Seattle defense lawyer costs, which is sure to be among your many questions about hiring an attorney.

You should not allow your fear of an attorney’s bill to scare you away from hiring one. If you are facing criminal charges, you have too much at stake to try to represent yourself.

If you truly cannot afford a lawyer, Washington State and federal law allow you to be represented free of charge. You must meet certain eligibility requirements, however, to receive assistance from a public defender.

If you do qualify, you must accept the attorney assigned to your case. You do not have a say in which public defender represents you.

If you do not qualify for free legal help, you need to find a private Seattle criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights.

How Seattle Defense Lawyers Bill for Their Time

In general, criminal defense lawyers in Seattle bill for their time in one of two ways: Either with an hourly fee or a flat fee. They work just as you imagine they would, either charging a client for a lawyer’s time by the hour or with one fee.

You may have heard about lawyers who charge a contingency fee. This is when a lawyer receives a percentage of a client’s winnings. You usually see this kind of fee in personal injury cases, such as traffic accident lawsuits. It is considered unethical for a criminal defense lawyer to receive payment based on a certain outcome. So you won’t find a Seattle defense lawyer who asks for a contingency fee.

Rates among criminal defense lawyers tend to be competitive. It may pay to shop around. At the same time, if you’ve been charged with a crime, you don’t have too much time to spare.

You may be able to convince a lawyer to lower his fee. You must attempt any negotiations before you hire a lawyer. Once you have agreed to hire a lawyer, it is too late to change the terms.

When a Seattle Defense Lawyer Bills by the Hour

Hourly rates among Seattle defense lawyers may vary greatly. This is because many variables go into calculating an hourly rate, such as:

  • Experience – Lawyers with more experience may charge extra for familiarity with the law and the courts
  • Overhead – Lawyers need to factor in the cost of running their office, which includes everything from rent to personnel
  • Location – Rates may vary according to where in the city the lawyer’s office is located; the going rate for a lawyer in Lake City may be different than the rate of a lawyer based in Yesler Terrace.

Don’t shy away from a criminal defense lawyer just because he may charge more by the hour. An experienced lawyer may get you through your criminal case faster and with a favorable result, thus saving you money and possible heartache.

If you decide to hire an attorney who charges by the hour, you’ll likely also have to pay a retainer fee, which is kind of like a down payment you pay up front.

When a Seattle Defense Attorney Bills a Flat Fee

Flat fees may appeal to you because you’d like to know what your overall bill may look like. However, the flat fee is not all-inclusive. You are still likely responsible for other costs, such as court fees. If you’re interested in hiring a Seattle criminal defense lawyer who charges a flat fee, be sure to ask what is and is not included in the fee.

Especially in criminal cases, lawyers like to ask for payment of a flat fee up front. Ask a lawyer you’re considering hiring what forms of payments are acceptable and whether he offers any payment plans.

In addition, flat fees are rarely refundable. This means that if you want to switch attorneys mid-case, you will not get your money back.

Questions to Ask a Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney

Here are some questions to ask Seattle criminal defense attorneys that should clarify how much they charge:

  • Do you charge by the hour? If so, what is your rate?
  • Do you charge a flat fee? If so, what is it? Is it refundable?
  • Will I owe a retainer fee? If so, how much is it?
  • What other expenses will I be expected to cover? How much will they likely total?
  • Is there room for negotiation in your fees?

When you have the answers to these questions, you will know exactly how much your Seattle criminal defense lawyer will cost.