Criminal lawyers are worth their weight in gold for defendants who are facing serious charges.
These proceedings can carry hefty penalties from significant financial fines to restrictions on driving and child visitation rights to loss of property or imprisonment.
Given that the stakes are so high, the solicitor and their paralegal team has to go above and beyond to ensure they are putting their best case forward in front of a judge or jury.
In that setting they will need to bill the client appropriately, covering for labour, travel and the use of any resources they will work in their favour.
Here we will take a closer look at some of the key factors that influence the billing of criminal lawyers.
Prestige of the Firm
There are firstly some intangible elements that are at play when it comes to the investment that a client will have to pay for the services of a criminal lawyer. One of those will center around the prestige of the firm. The name and reputation of the organisation will be dependent on a number of factors but will often be deduced to their win-loss ratio as well as their capacity to strike deals with law enforcement and earn reduced sentences. For those who are seeking the highest quality representation, they will be in the market for industry leading enterprises who spare no expense and have the resources for any case and for any white-collar defendant.
Profile of the Solicitor
We have taken into account the macro topic of the prestige of the law firm and one of the direct extensions of that element focuses on the profile of the lawyer who has been handed the case. It will speak to their experience and background, specialising on sexual assault cases, bank fraud, drink driving, manslaughter or another category that pertains to the defendant.
Criminal lawyers will instigate key logistical actions that are commensurate to basic labour in other industries. This will include obtaining police and medical reports to testing DNA samples, sourcing documentation and transcripts, filing papers for court, talking long distance on the phone, engaging with outside experts, speaking to witnesses and using couriers. These are actions that take time and money to execute correctly and that eye for detail has to be remunerated by the client.
There is an important distinction to make for clients who are facing criminal charges when it comes to the geography of the case and which court is utilised. For those based in Sydney, Melbourne and the other major cities in the country, the fees will usually be higher across the board. This is due in part to the prestige of the firm as these locations will attract a higher caliber of professional. In rural areas of Australia the fees are more commensurate with blue-collar workers and communities who do not have the same resources as the cities, although serious criminal cases will often have to host a trial or be heard by a Magistrate in a high, supreme or federal court.
Policy of the Firm
Any legal enterprise will establish their operation based around a single billing policy or a flexible combination that seeks to give the client more choice. They will involve an hourly fee, a flat fee, a retainer or a contingency fee. Some form of a retainer has to be paid up front in order for legal representation to be guaranteed but as a case continues, it will be up to the two parties to reach a formal agreement where one of these policies or a mixture is instituted. There can also be paralegal bills for a counsel that requires a team of experts, or the fees could be waived altogether if it is taken on pro bono.