Criminal arrests lead to costly court proceedings, especially if you plead not guilty. While every person has a right to a defense, not everyone can afford top tier law firms or attorneys. What do you do if you can’t afford an adequate defense? You keep looking. People overlook more affordable options because high-end letterhead and expensive suits blind them to reality. Not every criminal defense attorney will have access to unlimited funds, but most have the knowledge and experience necessary to argue your case successfully.
A private attorney can cost anywhere from $150 to $700 per hour, meaning that once a trial is complete, you may have a bill between $10,000 to $15,000. Many lawyers, understanding the risks of such expenses, may require a retainer or upfront payment before taking your case. While you may believe a more expensive lawyer is better at their job than a less costly attorney, such feelings are often presumptive and unfounded. The prestige of a firm often determines the high costs, not the quality or pedigree of the attorneys working for it.
A public defender is often more qualified than many firm attorneys because they have more trial experience. Unfortunately, court-appointed attorneys get a poor reputation from stereotyping and bias. However, when you think about their profession, it is easy to understand their capability.
Not every defendant will meet the criteria for a public defender. There are income restrictions in place to protect the court against overuse and abuse. However, if you cannot afford a private attorney and do not meet the threshold for a court-appointed attorney, a judge may waive the threshold and allow you to hire a public defender, but you may need to cover some costs.
Pro Bono Defense
When a defendant does not meet the criteria for a public defender and cannot afford a private attorney, they can seek pro bono representation. Many criminal defense attorneys perform so many hours of free legal services annually — some bar associations even require it. If your case is strong, a criminal lawyer may offer their services free.
There is no reason a criminal defense needs to cost so much. While people with felony charges may feel strongly towards a private defense, you do not need the most expensive representation. Contact a criminal lawyer in Civic Center San Francisco, CA to discuss your case and determine a fee fair for your situation and charges.
Thanks to Hallinan Law Firm for their insight into criminal law and if you can afford a criminal defense lawyer.