The cost of hiring a criminal defense attorney can vary significantly from attorney to attorney, jurisdiction to jurisdiction, case to case, and trial to trial. Several factors contribute to this:
Attorney Experience, Track Record, and Reputation
The defense attorney’s trial experience, success rate, and even reputation can affect how much you should expect to pay as a retainer. It follows, of course, that a more experienced attorney with a high win rate is likely to charge more.
Reputation, however, is much more subjective. For example, an attorney who has a relatively run-of-the-mill record but has represented several famous clients may be more expensive than a much more experienced yet low-profile attorney.
Case Complexity, Severity of the Charge, Motion Practice, and Expert Witnesses
The complexity of a case can also affect the amount required for a retainer. More complex cases will, of course, cost the defendant more. This is also true for the severity of the charge being brought against the defendant. Hiring a lawyer to defend you against a murder charge, for example, will cost you more than a simple misdemeanor.
In certain cases, however, a relatively minor charge can cost the defendant more. Notable examples include cases that require an attorney to engage in extensive motion practice or to call in expert witnesses to help bolster the defense.