Over the last few years, times have been tight for many people and businesses across the country. While it is always a good idea to save money, consumers have become much more savvy in purchasing goods and services. During this time, the legal community has also seen several do it yourselfers attempting to save money by handling legal matters without an attorney. Some businesses regularly need the services of attorneys and have also requested flat fees rather than hourly billing in order to better project costs. Others have shopped for a cheaper hourly rate.
While some consumers of legal services readily pay over $200.00 an hour for an attorney, others would prefer to spend much less. However, when there is a problem that could result in the loss of liberty or a significant amount of money, the cheap option is not always the best option. Attorneys have varying levels of experience and skill. If you are paying a lawyer to do the worrying for you, you shouldn’t be worrying about whether you hired the right lawyer. In many criminal cases, fees are not set on an hourly basis, but rather a flat fee. At the initial client interview, the attorney assesses the case and provides a client with an estimate for the total amount needed to competently handle the case.
Generally the flat fee arrangements will discuss the flat fee to be paid for attorney fees and any extra costs such as expert witnesses, depositions, travel, and so forth. It is not unusual for a young person to be caught possessing marijuana. In some cases, after a police interview a person admits to sharing or distributing the marijuana. That person is then charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana, a Class III felony, holding a penalty of from one to 20 years in prison and up to a $25,000.00 fine. In these types of cases, a criminal defense attorney may quote a flat fee of $5,000.00. While this is quite a bit of money, it can go rather quickly if an attorney was billing hourly on the case at $200.00 an hour. It would buy 25 hours of attorney time. At $250.00 per hour, it would only buy 20 hours of time.
The cost of attorney fees however is relatively minor considering the cost of conviction or a lengthy sentence. A year in jail usually results in the loss of employment and the loss of a paycheck during that time. Furthermore, the future implications are much more costly. A convicted felon not only loses several civil rights, but also faces barriers to future employment and loss of employment opportunities. While felony convictions can be set aside in some cases or even pardoned, a felony conviction never completely disappears.
In conclusion, attorney’s fees are expensive. On the other hand, proceeding without an attorney can be much more expensive. In some ways, it is like those home improvement jobs that I have tried to do on my own only to realize that months later I could have saved a lot of money if I had hired the right professional to handle the problem in the first place
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