How Criminal Defense Fees Work

Criminal defense fees are difficult to reduce to a schedule or chart. We typically do not quote fees over the phone, as it's important for an attorney and prospective client to meet in person if at all possible. It is a serious decision to hire an attorney to represent your interests or the interests of your loved one. The initial interview is an important part of your decision to retain The Ambeau Law Firm as your criminal defense representation.

Quoting Fees

Fees are often the determining factor in who you hire as a criminal defense attorney. Charging fees is an unfortunate reality of running a private criminal defense practice. The fee for our services represents:

  • The difficulty of the representation
  • Estimated hours of work
  • Case complexity
  • Filing and court costs
  • Expert fees (if necessary)

Jarrett Ambeau has owned and operated The Ambeau Law Firm since 2009 and has always quoted fees for representation. When providing a quote, we consider:

  • The facts as represented in the initial interview
  • The nature of the case
  • The stage of your criminal defense matter
  • The time and effort required to achieve the best possible outcome

Flat Fees

The Ambeau Law Firm typically quotes criminal defense clients a flat fee for legal representation from start to finish. The flat fee is the total amount of attorney fees we will charge. Your contract with The Ambeau Law Firm will clearly state:

“This fee is earned upon payment for my consultation and giving you a course of action. This minimum fee is due regardless of the length of time it takes to reach a final adjudication in this matter. The fee is paid in exchange for me accepting your case, and for rendering advice on a plan of action. Upon payment, the fee belongs to me, it will be deposited into my operating account and it will not be held in trust for you. I would not accept this case for a lesser fee.”

And, “This is a flat fee case, I will represent you for the duration of this particular criminal matter, from the date you hire me until the conclusion of this matter by dismissal, deferred adjudication, plea or trial, for the fee of $[total amount of fee].”

This is our commitment to you. If we sign a flat fee contract, we will represent you as long as it takes to adjudicate the matter whether in the trial court by dismissal, pre-trial diversion, plea or jury trial. You will not be billed additional attorney fees in a flat fee case.

Will I Be Charged Additional Fees?

The only time you will pay additional fees is if there are appeals or writs taken to the higher courts of jurisdiction, and only after agreeing that is the best course of action for your case. An appeal of your case after final adjudication is considered a separate representation and can be addressed after the trial-level work.

A writ is asking the higher court to exercise supervisory jurisdiction over the trial court, or asking the higher court to overturn or overrule a trial court decision. Writs are filed during trial-level representation and before final adjudication, but this process would require additional attorney fees and substantial costs. Again, a decision to take this course of action is made in conjunction with our clients only. These matters are also covered in our contract for services.

Expert Fees

In many cases criminal defense cases, we consider the cost of hiring experts. Experts are not necessary in every case. Your attorney will discuss hiring experts and the costs associated with that decision during your initial interview Any expert fees we collect from you are put into our trust account and paid directly from that account. Expert fees remain the property of the client until paid to the expert and any of these fees paid to our firm and not used will be returned to the client.

Payment Terms

Fees in criminal defense cases can be extraordinarily burdensome, which is why we offer the ability to pay fees in stages in limited cases where total fees are excessively high.

We offer limited payment plans, but require at least half of the total fee paid and the signing of a promissory note for the remainder. The choice to enter into a payment plan arrangement for the client's benefit does not affect the total flat fee charged or the client's obligation to complete payment of the fees.

We are here to help you through this difficult time and are willing to speak honestly and openly about your financial resources and the cost of hiring our firm to represent you in your matter. Give us a call and come in and sit down with our principal attorney, Jarrett Ambeau, and we will make every effort to be fair and reasonable in the financial aspect of our representation.

Your Right to the Attorney of Your Choice

It is your constitutional right to retain counsel in your criminal defense matter. Further, you have a right to discharge your lawyer at any time, with or without cause. You always have the right to the attorney of your choice. Your contract with The Ambeau Law Firm will clearly state:

“In the event that you decide to discharge The Ambeau Law Firm, you agree that we are entitled to compensation at the rate of $[my hourly rate] per hour, for the actual work done in your matter, and expenses incurred, as may be allowed by law. Hourly work is tracked in 1/10 hours and the fee earned will be determined by multiplying the total hours worked by our hourly rate.”

REMINDER: DO NOT talk to anyone about your matter before communicating with an attorney. There are times where communication with law enforcement is the best way forward, but that decision should be made with the advice of counsel. If you wish to remain silent the most important thing to do is REMAIN SILENT – DO NOT TALK. If you do not wish to speak, you must invoke your right to counsel by saying something like, “I do not want to answer any questions without speaking to my attorney first.” You have to be clear, if you are not clear, say it over and over again until you get it right – and do not say anything else – REMAIN SILENT – and call an attorney.

IMPORTANT: This is not legal advice. I have provided this in an effort to inform you of what to expect, not to advise you on a course of action. Please consult with an attorney before making any decision that may affect your legal rights, liberty, freedom, or safety.

NEXT: Pre-Trial Representation Initial Steps