On a simple DWI an attorney will, at least, defend the administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing and appear at several court dates – let’s assume three court appearances, which in my experience is on the low end. Assume with travel time and waiting time in court, each court appearance is a half hour. For the ALR, first we must request the hearing, then request the discovery, then review the discovery, then go to a hearing. Let’s just assume it’s 2.0 hours for all of that. Initial interview? Let’s assume an hour. Watching the video with the client will be another hour for purposes of our hypothetical. In all, we have about 4 hours invested.But what if there were a possible suppression issue needing a couple hours of research? Add two hours. That gets us to six. And if we actually litigate the motion to suppress, add another two hours. That gets us to eight. What if we must make five total court appearances? Now we are at 10 hours invested. Believe me, these time estimates are on the low end of reasonable. If any experienced criminal lawyer actually counted their hours in a case they'd be surprised how quickly the time adds up.Let's build on the hypothetical. Let’s assume a board certified criminal lawyer with 15 or so years’ experience. She wants $350 per hour. Let’s assume also the more reasonable scenario of the time counted above, plus the modest preparation time of one hour out-of-court per one hour in-court and about four hours invested into the suppression issue. At $350 dollars per hour, that makes about 15 hours or so, (if my math is correct) or a total bill for fees of $5,250.00. This does not include the lawyer's out-of-pocket costs for online research, etc., which are typically absorbed by the lawyer and not charged out to the client.
So, when comparing the hypothetical hourly fee against the $4,500.00 flat fee, we see the flat fee is a bargain. Beyond this, in many cases the criminal lawyer will include any trial fee within their flat fee, which makes the flat fee all the more economical for clients.
Consequently, when folks ask me why I'm killing them with fees, I trust they see their advantage when paying a predictable, reasonable, and yes, affordable attorney fee to obtain the best defense against their criminal charges.