Hiring the right criminal lawyer to work on your case is essential. Regardless of whether you’re looking to prove your innocence or have the best possible outcome for your sentencing, you need to work with a skilled lawyer who knows their way around criminal law. However, it can be difficult to estimate how much you’re required to pay for the services of a skilled lawyer if you have never needed to use a legal professional in this capacity before.
There are a number of variables to the way that criminal lawyers tend to bill for their time, and you might decide to prioritize looking for lawyers who can handle your case in a way that you can afford. Remember to consider that various factors can add to the expense of your case as it progresses – what can seem like an affordable option at first can escalate to one that you cannot afford over time.
Flat/Block Legal Fees Vs Hourly Legal Fees
Hourly fees for this kind of defence can vary greatly. The experience and seniority of the lawyer that you are working with will also influence their hourly fees. You will want to work with an experienced and skilled lawyer for this kind of case, but you might need to be realistic about how much you can afford to pay per hour of work on your case.
The Law Society of Ontario has set out a governing fee schedule that does not have to be followed by lawyers, but that is often used as a baseline for the fees that are charged per hour by these professionals. Using this schedule, a senior counsel can charge as much as $350 an hour. Meanwhile, you might pay less than $100 for a junior lawyer or someone who has recently opened up their practice in this space.
Block fees are a solution that many lawyers are turning to in the Ontario area to help clients cover the costs of the legal team that is supporting them through their trial and case processes. These structured fees provide a set base charge for certain kinds of cases and representation, with additional blocks that can be added if the need for specialty services crops up as the case progresses. This is a more transparent billing process for everyone involved, and it helps people seeking representation to be sure that they can afford the lawyer that is taking their case.
Factors That Influence the Costs of Your Block Fee Defence
Simple cases are much easier to defend than cases that involve violence or a very serious crime related to drugs and alcohol, or even murder. You should expect the complexity of your case to add to the chargeable hours that your lawyer needs to be compensated for. When there is a need to bring in expert witnesses, expert testimony, and to collect information from a protracted investigation, these charges can also be added to your tab.
As a rule of thumb, complex cases will almost always go to trial, and this can multiply the cost of your case exponentially. You will need to ask about the cost of your lawyer’s time working on a case that goes to court before you agree to work with the lawyer that you have been chatting with.
The jurisdiction that your case needs to be tried in can impact the block fees that you are charged. If you have to pay for travel outside of the office’s local area, this can add to your block fees. Mileage, travel, flights, and more can be covered in a block fee with ease, but they will add quite a bit of cost to your representation needs. You might want to ask your lawyer about this block fee add-on if you think that you will need representation that is going to require travel to be charged to your bill.
Mode of Trial
This is one of the key factors that can cause an increase in your block fees. Your lawyer can advise you about the different costs for trials that have to be heard by the Ontario Court of Justice versus those that will not require a jury or a superior court appearance. The amount of time and effort that goes into cases appearing before the highest court is significant, and the timeframes that can be required to finalize these trials can be quite lengthy as well. Longer trials will be more expensive, and your lawyer cannot promise you that they can predict the length of a trial for more serious charges.
The Seniority of the Lawyer You Hire
High-quality, experienced lawyers charge for their experience in their field. This means that you can expect to pay more for an experienced lawyer than you would for a new associate or someone that has just set up a practice. This factor still applies to block fees, so you will want to be sure that you look at the seniority of your attorney carefully from the standpoint of affordability. Experience is worth it if you have a complex case that involves serious charges, but you do have to be practical about the cost of this representation.
The Average Cost for Criminal Defence in Ontario
The average cost of a criminal lawyer in Ontario is anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000. Cases that must go to trial before a jury can cost twice this much or more. You will need to speak with your lawyer about their fees if you believe that you cannot afford them. It is critical that you find a lawyer that you can afford to have to represent your case.
Working with a skilled lawyer is critical, but being able to afford your lawyer is just as important. At Vilkhov Law, we can help you to understand the cost of your case and make a plan that will work for your budget and the nature of your legal needs. Contact us today for a consultation to see how we can help you with your criminal case.