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How Much Do Criminal Defense Lawyers Cost in SC?

How Much Do Criminal Defense Lawyers Cost in SC?

Do you need a lawyer for help with a criminal charge? If so, you may be concerned about how much criminal defense lawyers cost in South Carolina. Attorneys have a reputation for being costly, but the reality is legal services are often more affordable than you may think. In some cases, such as in personal injury matters, hiring a lawyer may cost you nothing at all, unless the lawyer gets your results.

For any legal problem you confront, look at your lawyer as an investment. Whether you need an attorney because you’ve sustained a personal injury, were accused of a criminal charge, or are going through a divorce, choosing the right attorney can have a direct effect on your legal rights, your finances, and your life.

Understanding Various Types of Payment Plans

The type of attorney you need will affect how and how much the attorney you select gets paid. Here’s an overview of some typical fee arrangements between lawyers and clients, and the types of legal matters where they’re used.

Contingency Fees

A contingency fee is a fee that depends on the result of a case; or more simply, it’s a fee a client only pays to their attorney if they win. Contingency fees are most common in workers’ compensation and personal injury matters where a lawyer represents a client in a legal matter seeking money from an insurance company or at-fault driver.

Criminal defense attorneys Adam and Chris

In the typical contingent fee arrangement, the attorney and client agree that the fee for the attorney’s services will comprise a percentage of any financial compensation the attorney secures on the client’s behalf. These days the percentage varies depending on the amount of effort the case may involve and the amount of financial recovery at stake. South Carolina laws require that everyone agrees to contingent fees in writing before a lawyer begins work on a client’s case.

Learn More: Understanding Your Miranda Rights in SC

Hourly Fees

Many criminal defense lawyers charge by the hour for their legal services. As with other fee arrangements, the attorney must disclose the fee upfront to the client in a written agreement. Typically, an attorney will charge one rate for their time, and other rates for work performed by other attorneys or legal professionals who may work on a case.

Lawyers who bill by the hour must offer regular billing statements to clients that describe the nature of the work they performed and the amount of time they spent. The expectation is that clients will pay the attorneys' invoices regularly.

Flat-Rate Fees

A flat-rate fee is a one-size-fits-all fee for an attorney’s services on legal matters. Criminal defense lawyers who charge flat rate fees typically do so in matters where they can predict the amount of time and work they'll do.

What Factors Cause Criminal Defense Attorney Costs to Vary?

There are various factors to consider when assessing the overall costs of criminal cases, including:

  • Expert witnesses and investigators. Often, criminal cases have multiple and complicated issues that need expert witnesses or investigators. For instance, a criminal defense attorney may hire the services of a person who specializes in chemical testing to explain the results of a Blood Alcohol Content analysis in a drunk driving trial. Or the services of a psychologist may be needed if the defendant wants to raise a defense of legal insanity. Expert witnesses and investigators charge an average retainer fee of $3,500 and they might charge in excess of $500 per hour.
  • Lawyer’s Fees. Attorney’s fees vary based on several factors. Here are some of the more critical factors that will influence the rate an attorney charges:
    • Whether the case goes to a criminal trial.
    • Whether the lawyer charges a flat fee or by the hour.
    • The skill and experience of the attorney.
    • The number of years the lawyer has practiced criminal defense.
    • The number of years the lawyer has appeared in criminal court in that particular jurisdiction.
    • The severity of the charged offense.
    • The complexity of the legal matter in the case.

Related Content: What is Pre-Trial Intervention?

South Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney Fees Per Hour

You can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $500 per hour to hire a criminal defense lawyer in South Carolina. Often, if a lawyer has a $300 hourly fee, they may require a 10-hour retainer fee of $3,000.

Some South Carolina criminal attorneys and those who are already well known in their legal practice area will often charge their clients by the hour as opposed to using a flat-rate fee. Further, if an appropriate flat fee can't be calculated because of the complexity of a case, the criminal defense lawyer may opt to charge an hourly rate instead. The relative ability of a criminal defense lawyer will cause the hourly rates they charge to differ significantly. For a highly skilled criminal defense lawyer, you can expect to pay $150-300 per hour.

A gavel, scale, and law books on a desk.

Often, criminal defense lawyers who charge by the hour may break up the hour into 20-minute or 5-minute increments. The experienced attorney who charges $300 an hour in 10-minute increments would charge you $100 for that time, while a lawyer who charges the same but in 5-minute increments would only charge you $20.

In addition, criminal lawyers who charge by the hour would require the payment of an upfront retainer. This retainer covers an agreed amount of the attorney’s initial time. Once the retainer is exhausted, you'll be expected to replenish with new funds.

Need A Criminal Defense Lawyer In Greenville South Carolina?

At TF Law our experienced criminal defense lawyers in Greenville, South Carolina will defend your criminal matter with personal attention and always have you and your best interests in their mind when offering legal options and solutions. Call our Greenville law office today for an initial consultation! 

We are knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers and will fight for you to get the best possible outcome. Our Greenville criminal defense law firm will vigorously represent you, so you can get on with your life. Call our legal team today at 864-618-2323 for a free initial consultation.

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