Despite a massive campaign over the last several decades to warn motorists about the dangers involved in drinking and driving, driving under the influence (DUI) arrests continue at a steady, albeit reduced, rate across the country. Although there are repeat offenders who have a serious drinking problem, the average DUI defendant is an otherwise law-abiding citizen who suffered a lapse in judgment that resulted in an arrest. If that describes your situation, you are undoubtedly worried about the outcome of your case. Your first step toward ensuring a positive outcome is hiring an experienced DUI defense attorney. If you have never needed a criminal defense attorney before, you are probably also worried about the cost of a Sarpy County DUI attorney.
How to Lawyers Charge Clients?
There are three basic methods an attorney can use to charge clients, including:
- Hourly billing – as the term implies, the hourly billing method involves billing clients by the hour, or segment of an hour. If an attorney bills you by the hour, you will typically be required to give the attorney a retainer fee up front. The attorney then bills against the retainer until the retainer runs low at which point you must fill up the retainer again. For example, you might give an attorney a $5,000 retainer. The attorney will keep track of his/her time and bill by 1/10 of an hour (6 minute) segments. When the retainer drops below $1,000 you will probably need to replenish it. With this type of fee, the client does not know ahead of time how much the case will cost. At best, the attorney will provide an estimate.
- Contingency fee – this method is typically used for personal injury cases or administrative cases, such as worker’s compensation or Social Security disability. The attorney only gets paid if he/she secures compensation for you; however, if the attorney does “win” the case, he/she will usually be entitled to a nice chunk of the proceeds, typically 30-40 percent. Contingency fee billing is prohibited in criminal cases.
- Flat rate – the flat rate method is often used by criminal defense attorneys, particularly for less serious cases that they handle frequently. A driving under the influence case, for example, might be charged a flat fee, meaning you will know up front how much the entire case will cost you.
There Is No Universal Fee Schedule
Attorney set their own fees for criminal cases. As such, there is no universal fee schedule nor is there any way to know what an attorney will charge without consulting with the attorney about the facts and circumstances of the case. Some of the factors an attorney is likely to consider when setting a fee, however, include:
- Severity level of the most serious charge – as a general rule, the more that is at stake for the defendant, the more work the attorney must do and, therefore the more the attorney will charge.
- Defendant’s criminal history – if a defendant has a lengthy criminal history, even negotiating a favorable plea bargain becomes difficult.
- Mitigating/aggravating facts about the case — aggravating circumstances, such as a collision, will usually result in more work for the attorney
- Prosecutor assigned to the case — although this shouldn’t matter, it often does.
- Defendant’s expectations — if the defendant wants to take the case to trial, that obviously requires considerably more wok
The Cost of Not Hiring a Sarpy County DUI Attorney
A decision of how much a DUI attorney costs would not be complete without a discussion of how much it will cost you if you choose not to hire an attorney and you are convicted. That conviction will ultimately result in:
- Court costs, fines, and fees
- Probation monthly fees
- Fees for classes through probation
- Expenses to install an ignition interlock device
- Increased car insurance rates
- Lost work
Contact a Sarpy County DUI Attorney
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in the State of Nebraska, contact a Sarpy County DUI attorney at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense lawyer.