Understanding San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Fees

Everyone makes mistakes, but sometimes those mistakes come with grave consequences. Many who have made the error of driving under the influence of alcohol know this truth all too well. Finding a DUI criminal defense attorney to represent you in court can be overwhelming, especially for first-time offenders. Here, we’ll look at some of the finer points of DUI attorney costs. What is a criminal defense attorney going to cost you? Read on to find out.

Basics of San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Fees

Criminal defense attorney fees vary, since there are a number of ways attorneys charge for their services. Regardless of the method of payment, there are bound to be variances in amount, according to circumstances. The following factors can affect criminal defense attorney fees:

Case complexity- Most attorneys charge more for felonies than misdemeanors because of the potential for greater penalties, more court appearances, and more preparation.

Attorney experience- Less experienced attorneys tend to set lower fees than experienced ones. Still, be wary of hourly rates that seem exceptionally low. Experienced attorneys with higher rates might be better able to resolve your case quickly and successfully, ultimately saving you money in the long run.

Geography- Just a note for people who live outside of the San Diego area. Criminal defense attorney fees are higher in some parts of the country than others, just like other the costs of other commodities and services.

Because factors like these affect cost, there is really no such thing as “standard legal fees.”

There are a number of ways that attorneys charge, each of which are popular for criminal defense lawyers.

Hourly Billing

If an attorney bills by the hour, defendants pay for the actual time devoted to their cases. They might also pay for expenses incurred during representation, like copying fees and subpoena fees. This method can be beneficial if a case concludes quickly, but if it becomes unexpectedly complicated, it can become very expensive.

Case Billing

An attorney who charges by the case represents a defendant for a fixed fee. This cost would not change, no matter how much time the lawyer spends on the case. A positive effect associated with case billing is the certainty that comes with an upfront fee, regardless of any complications that arise. However, some defendants are put off by case billing, especially if their cases end up resolving very quickly.


Regardless of an attorney’s decision to bill by the hour or by the case, retainer fees are often required up front, before work begins on the case. This “down payment” usually can count toward later hourly or case fees.

Criminal defense attorney fees will certainly vary based on circumstance and payment style. Still, knowing what to expect can prepare you to better conduct your search for a lawyer. Be sure to conduct face-to-face interviews with potential representation in order to really understand what your case will cost.