New York Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain How Much A Criminal Attorney Costs.

How much it will cost you to retain a criminal attorney to defend your criminal case will depend on several factors including:

  1. The Type of Offense. The nature and seriousness of the criminal charge is one of the factors that impacts the cost to obtain a criminal lawyer– is it a traffic matter, a violation, a DWI, a misdemeanor or felony charge?
  2. The Type of Court and Location of the Court. What court is your matter in – is this a State or Federal Matter? Where is the case located – Albany? Troy? Saratoga? Schenectady? Plattsburgh?
  1. Plea Bargain or Trial. Is this a case that will proceed to trial or is this a matter that will be resolved by plea bargain?

The Type of Offense

The more serious the criminal charge the more time it will take a criminal lawyer to investigate the case, research issues relevant to the case, and defend the individual charged.

The Type of Court and Location of the Court

The type (City/Town/Village v. County or Federal) and the location of the court (Capital District v. Outside the Albany Area) can have an impact on the fee that is charged. A lawyer may anticipate spending more time in some courts than in others and that’s a factor an attorney will consider. LaMarche Safranko Law handles State and Federal criminal charges anywhere in New York State. The criminal statutes, policies, and procedures in effect in Albany are the same in Plattsburgh, Syracuse, or Buffalo.

Negotiating a Plea

If your case does not go to trial, you should expect the cost to handle the criminal case will generally be less.  You should be aware that negotiating a positive outcome can take considerable time and effort.  And most importantly, the decision to accept a plea offer is yours and yours alone.  While advice from your attorney is vital in making that decision, you should feel confident that you hold the final say in what direction your case goes.


Litigating a case and going to trial means that lawyers spend significant time preparing your case.  This includes drafting documents and raising legal challenges relevant to your case and participating in pre-trial hearings. If hearings are conducted, you and your lawyer will appear in  court prior to the trial where testimony will be taken regarding legal and factual issues relevant to your case. If a case proceeds to trial, depending on the nature of the charge, you and your attorney can expect not only significant preparation prior to the trial but often days spent selecting a jury and questioning witnesses. Even after the conclusion of a trial there may be additional proceedings after the trial.


How Do I Pay a Criminal Lawyer?

Hourly Billing/Hourly Rate

At LaMarche Safranko Safranko Law our attorneys’ rates range from $250 to $400 per hour. Some cases are handled on an hourly rate basis while other cases are handled on a fixed fee arrangement.  No two cases are ever the same, so even if you’ve heard a friend or family member handled a similar charge one way, yours may be different for many of the reasons already discussed.


What Is The Difference Between Paying An Hourly Rate Or A Fixed Fee?

Hourly Rate

If the lawyer charges the client hourly, the client will typically pay an initial retainer that the lawyer will bill against. If the retainer fee is exhausted, the client may then pay an additional retainer fee that the lawyer will bill against, or, alternatively, the lawyer will send the client an invoice at the end of each month for the work done on the case during the preceding month.

How Do Hourly Lawyers Bill Their Time?

Lawyers charge by the amount of time they spend on your case.  That involves time the lawyer communicates directly with the client, the District Attorney’s Office, or the Court.  It could include any number of other important details in the case including court appearances, conferences at the District Attorney’s Office, researching legal issues, reviewing discovery, drafting written motions, and preparing and conducting trial.  Lawyers typically bill in increments of 6 minutes.

Fixed Fee

If the lawyer and the client agree to a fixed fee arrangement, the client will pay a fixed amount of money for work on the case, or a designated portion of the case. At LaMarche Safranko Law, we often agree to a total fixed fee for the duration of the case or, for a fixed fee for certain portions of the case. For example, we often set a fixed fee for work on the case prior to the need to file written motions.  We will then set another fixed fee for the actual hearing if it takes place and for the trial if it occurs.


How Much Will I Have To Pay My Criminal Lawyer For My Case?

Below is a general idea to assist a new client in understanding the legal fees associated with defending a person charged with an offense.

Cost For Traffic tickets

The price for traffic tickets is generally hundreds of dollars. The price differs based on the number of tickets and the seriousness of the tickets. Is this a ticket for a class D license holder or a person who has a commercial driver’s license? The price may also be impacted based on the need for the lawyer to go to court, the number of times the lawyer may need to go to court, or if the case can be resolved through the mail. This general pricing would not include misdemeanor charges.

Cost For Violations

Violations are generally more costly than traffic tickets and usually require a lawyer to appear in court.

Cost For DWI

Legal fees for DWI charges are generally in the thousands of dollars and will always vary depending on whether the charge is a violation, a misdemeanor or a felony.  Other fee considerations include whether it’s a case that will be resolved by way of a plea, or will proceed through hearings and/or trial.  The location of the offense can have an impact on your fee as certain local District Attorney’s have policies that will affect how your case can be handled.  Billing decisions also include your prior criminal history, whether there was an accident or injury involved, the level of your breath alcohol content (as this may impact your charge/potential penalties), and whether there was a refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test.

Cost For Misdemeanors

Legal fees for misdemeanor charges generally range in the thousands of dollars. Misdemeanor cases generally have lower legal fees than felony cases  Factors for billing include the nature of the actual charge, prior criminal history, the number of court appearances, court conferences, legal research, discovery review, motion practice, working with expert witnesses and meetings to discuss the benefits and risks of proceeding to trial and/or resolving the case.

Cost For Felonies

Felonies range from class E which is the least serious to class A which is the most serious. Felony charges will generally cost thousands of dollars in legal fees while the most serious charges may even cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Factors for billing include the nature of the actual charge, prior criminal history, the number of court appearances, conferences, legal research, discovery review, motion practice, working with expert witnesses and meetings to discuss the benefits and risks of proceeding to trial and/or resolving the case.


How Do I Pay a Lawyer?

Most law firms accept any form of payment including check, credit or debit cards. You will get a receipt, either virtually or in paper, as soon as you make any payments. 


Do Lawyers Offer A Free Consultation To Discuss How Much My Case Will Cost?

Most lawyers offer a free consultation and do not charge for an initial consultation to see if they are the right fit for you.  These consultations are typically done right over the phone but can be done in person.  Whether you retain the lawyer you consult with or not, the rules of ethics and professional responsibility require that the communication is privileged and confidential.  Over this consultation the lawyer can better inform you what may be expected in your case, and because of that, we are generally able to assess the type of retainer we would require should you choose for us to represent you. If you decide you would like us to be your lawyer, an in-person meeting will be scheduled to review your case in greater detail, provide a written retainer agreement and answer any other questions you have.

There are many factors that impact what it will cost a person who is charged with a crime to hire a lawyer. Hiring a criminal lawyer that you trust, and who is honest and transparent with you about the costs you can expect is important.