For someone who has never been arrested before, going through a driving under the influence (DUI) stop and subsequent arrest is a fairly traumatic experience. Arguably, however, the day after is worse because you are now sober and facing the fact that you could end up with a criminal conviction on your record. Among your initial thoughts should be the need to hire an experienced DUI defense attorney; however, if you have never before needed a criminal defense attorney, you are likely wondering how much DUI lawyers charge. Given the multitude of variables that can influence a DUI attorney’s fee, it is impossible to provide a universally accurate answer to that question. It is helpful though to know what those variables are and how they impact the fee you are likely to pay.
Types of Attorney Fees
You may have used the services of an attorney in the past for civil matters, such as contract disputes, divorce, or a personal injury lawsuit. If so, you may be surprised to learn that most criminal attorneys use a different fee structure than civil attorneys. There are three methods for determining legal fees, including:
- Hourly fee – as it sounds, this method involves an attorney charging a set fee per hour, or per increment of an hour. You will typically be required to pay a retainer fee up front from which the attorney will deduct fees as he/she accrues time working on your case. For example, an attorney might charge $500 an hour and ask for a retainer fee of $5,000. The first month, the attorney spends 5.5 hours on your case. Therefore, $2750 is deducted from the retainer fee ($500 x 5.5 = $2750)
- Contingency fee – this type of fee is most commonly used for personal injury lawsuits. The attorney agrees to accept a percentage of the monetary recovery the attorney secures for you from the opposing party. If the attorney recovers nothing, you owe nothing. For example, assume you work injured in a car accident and you retain an attorney based on a 33 1/3 percent contingency fee arrangement. The attorney is able to negotiate a settlement on your behalf for $60,000. The attorney would keep $20,000 ($60,000/3 = $20,000) and you would get $40,000.
- Flat fee — this method is what most criminal attorneys use and involves charging the client a set fee up front that covers all legal work the attorney undertakes on a case. Sometimes an attorney will charge one fee if the case is resolved without a jury trial and an additional fee if the case results in a jury trial. If you were charged with possession of a controlled substance, for instance, an attorney might charge you $5,000 to resolve the case. Some attorneys require the entire fee up front while others will accept payment arrangements.
Factors That Influence How Much DUI Lawyers Charge
The only rule with regard to how much an attorney can charge is that an attorney’s fee must be “reasonable.” Beyond that, individual attorneys and law firms may set fees as they see fit, meaning there is often a considerable range of prices. Some of the common factors, however, that will influence the fee for representation in a DUI case include:
- The severity of the charges against you. Is this a first-time simple DUI or an aggravated DUI? The more serious the offense, the more difficult the representation will be as a general rule.
- Your criminal history (or lack thereof). If you have been convicted of anything before, especially something major, it may be more difficult to negotiate a reasonable plea agreement or to represent you at trial.
- Your expectations. If you tell an attorney that you simply want him/her to negotiate the most advantageous plea agreement possible for you, your fee will likely be less than if you tell the attorney you are prepared to take your case to a jury trial because you cannot afford a conviction.
- The judge and/or prosecutor assigned to the case. It should not matter, but it does. Some prosecutors and/or judges are more difficult to work with, a fact that must be considered.
- Unique facts or circumstances. For example, did you cause an accident or were you under the legal drinking age at the time of the arrest? If so, it could make your case more complicated.
Contact DUI Lawyers at Petersen Law Office
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in the State of Nebraska, it is always in your best interest to consult directly with a DUI defense attorney about the specific facts and circumstances of your case. Contact the Nebraska DUI lawyers at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense lawyer.