What is the average cost of a criminal lawyer?

Average cost of a criminal lawyer

Criminal lawyers play an essential role in Quebec’s judicial system, specializing in the defense of people accused of criminal offenses. Thanks to their legal expertise and in-depth knowledge of criminal law, criminal lawyers can represent their clients in court and guarantee them a fair defense.

If you are charged with one or more criminal offenses, it’s important to retain the services of a criminal lawyer. These legal services involve fees to be paid, which we detail in this article, specifying the various billing methods and the factors that influence lawyers’ rates.

What are the fees for a criminal lawyer in Quebec?

The Code of Ethics for Lawyers in Quebec allows lawyers to set their fees freely, fairly and reasonably, based on the circumstances and the legal services rendered. Thus, a criminal lawyer’s fees in Quebec may vary according to a number of factors:

  • The lawyer’s experience plays an important role in determining fees. The more experience a lawyer has in his or her field, as well as recognized expertise in criminal law, the higher the fee.
  • The time allotted to the case also has an impact on costs. Cases that are quickly resolved tend to cost less than those that may take months to resolve.
  • The complexity of the case often involves the use of various criminal services and procedures, and results in higher legal fees. A summary procedure will cost less than a court trial.
  • The stakes of the case, such as severe penalties or serious consequences for the client, may result in higher costs, given the responsibility assumed by the lawyer.
  • Etc.

In addition to the legal services provided, there are a number of other factors that contribute to a criminal lawyer’s fees. It is therefore important to take into account the lawyer’s disbursements and additional costs, such as file preparation, travel expenses, communication costs and extra-judicial fees.

Who pays a criminal lawyer’s fees?

The client receiving legal services is responsible for paying the criminal lawyer’s fees, as agreed. In some situations, the client may be eligible for legal aid and receive financial assistance. In this case, the government will pay some or all of the lawyer’s fees, or may provide a court-appointed lawyer.

We recommend that you discuss the details of fees with your lawyer from the outset. You can ask for a detailed estimate of fees and payment terms to help you better understand your financial responsibilities.

What is the average cost of a criminal lawyer?

The average hourly rate for a criminal lawyer is between $100 and $300 per hour. You should be aware that your lawyer can propose various payment terms, and that the complexity of your case will have a major impact on the cost of a criminal lawyer.

For a one-day trial, a summary offense could cost between $2,500 and $3,500, while an indictable offense could cost between $3,000 and $4,000. Similarly, for a guilty plea, a criminal lawyer’s fees range from $1,000 to $2,000. For a complex case involving an appeal to the Superior Court for a criminal charge, the lawyer’s fees exceed $10,000.

The different billing methods used by criminal lawyers

When facing criminal charges, the help of a criminal lawyer is essential to defend your rights. Depending on the nature of the case and its complexity, your lawyer can offer you a variety of billing options tailored to the legal services provided.

Hourly rates

The hourly rate depends on the number of hours devoted to the case, and can vary from one lawyer to another, as well as according to the complexity of the case. This billing method is advantageous in cases where the file is fairly straightforward and the hours of work can be estimated in advance. 

However, criminal cases can be unpredictable, revealing unexpected and more complex aspects as the case progresses. In these situations, extra hours of work are to be expected, and consequently higher fees.

Fixed price

Fixed price involves setting a fixed fee for the entire case. This fee is agreed in advance and covers all legal services provided by the lawyer to handle the case, regardless of the time spent on the case. In criminal law, the fixed price is used in predictable cases, where the lawyer already has a rough idea of the workload and estimated duration of the case.

Ceiling price

The ceiling price means that a maximum fee will be set by the lawyer and agreed with his client, and will represent the limit of payments for legal services.  Beyond the fixed price, the client will not have to pay any additional costs to his lawyer.

Percentage tariffs are generally prohibited in criminal law in Quebec. Indeed, the Code of Ethics of Lawyers of the Quebec Bar stipulates that a criminal lawyer may not establish a fee based on the percentage of results in a criminal case. This prohibition is designed to avoid conflicts of interest and preserve the integrity of the legal profession.

There are also alternative or hybrid billing methods that combine two types of billing, such as an hourly rate and a ceiling price. We advise you to discuss all financial aspects with your lawyer. You can also request quotes from different lawyers to compare their offers and choose the one that best suits your needs and budget.

Need the services of a criminal lawyer?

Our law firm specializes in four areas of law, including criminal law, family law, immigration law and divorce law. With over 20 years’ experience, our legal experts offer you personalized service to defend your rights, negotiate and represent your interests in the most appropriate way.

If you’re facing criminal charges, our lawyers will guide you through the legal process, explain the issues and potential consequences of the charges, and suggest personalized defense strategies. 

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