How Much Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Cost in North Carolina? [2024 Updated]

How Much Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Cost in North Carolina? [2024 Updated]

How Much Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Cost in North Carolina? [2024 Updated]

On Behalf of The Law Office of Michael D. Cleaves, PLLC |

When you’re accused of a criminal offense in North Carolina, it can be easy to let yourself panic. However, just because you’re accused of a crime does not mean that you will be found guilty. Hiring an experienced Statesville criminal defense attorney gives you a strong chance at fighting the allegations made against you, as you’ll have a powerful advocate on your side.

If you’re searching for a criminal defense attorney in Statesville, NC, it’s crucial that you understand the different elements of retaining one.

What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Charge in North Carolina?

Most North Carolina defense lawyers charge clients hourly, with average prices ranging from $100 to $600 per hour. In some cases, clients may also be asked to pay a retainer fee, which is basically a down payment to reserve a lawyer’s services.

There are a myriad of factors that will impact how much you pay for a North Carolina defense lawyer, including:

    1. Case Complexity. The complexity of your case has a large impact on its cost because it affects the amount of time and resources a lawyer has to spend on you. For example, when someone is charged with a mild offense that can be resolved smoothly, they may pay much less than someone who is facing complex felony charges and has to go to trial.
    2. Location. Much like anything else you buy, the services of a criminal defense attorney are dependent on the area. In a high-traffic area, such as highly populated cities, lawyers typically charge more, as their caseload is higher and quality service is more valuable. In an area that is more rural, like a small town, a lawyer may charge less as their caseload may be less intense.
    3. Necessity of a Trial. In the event that a trial is needed, a criminal defense attorney can cost significantly more than if the case was resolved in pre-trial hearings. This is because trials can be lengthy and require a wide range of resources. Criminal trials can have proceedings that last for months and sometimes even years.
    4. Payment Method. Every attorney accepts different payment methods. Some attorneys use a “pay as you go” approach that, as it sounds, has clients simply pay on set dates as their case continues. Other lawyers may use an “end cap” method, where they don’t collect any money from their client until the proceedings end. It’s important that you discuss varying payment methods with any prospective attorneys so that you can find one who is right for you.
    5. Experience. An attorney who has extensive experience may also charge more. When you hire a criminal defense attorney, you are hiring an individual who has spent years practicing the law and defending the rights of individuals in difficult situations. The more experience a lawyer has, the more reputable and trustworthy they tend to be. When your attorney has comprehensive experience, it’s common that their prices are higher.

Why Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Cost So Much?

One of the biggest reasons criminal defense lawyers are so expensive is because they represent a defendant’s strongest chance at fighting criminal allegations. Without an attorney, it’s easy for the prosecution to build a case that attacks the defendant, who doesn’t know how to properly represent themselves. The United States legal system is a complicated and often overwhelming force that defense lawyers have spent years mastering.

A criminal defense attorney’s time is incredibly valuable, so clients looking to use their resources can expect to pay relatively high prices. However, just because a criminal lawyer is expensive does not mean that you can’t retain one. It’s crucial to note that certain attorneys offer payment plans or even work pro bono. If a lawyer decides to take on a case “pro bono,” it simply means that they have decided they don’t need payment and will represent the client regardless.


Q: How Much Does a Criminal Lawyer Cost in North Carolina?

A: On average, a criminal lawyer in North Carolina will charge anywhere from $100 to $600 per hour. Additionally, some may also charge an upfront fee called a retainer. This is often due to a number of factors, including case complexity, location, necessity of a trial, payment method, and, most importantly, the years of experience that a lawyer has. Don’t hesitate to discuss pricing with a lawyer when you schedule your first consultation with them.

Q: What Is the Highest Retainer Fee for a Lawyer?

A: Much like the other costs for a lawyer, a retainer fee is dependent on the type of case. For example, in an assault case, a retainer fee could range anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000, while a sexual assault case could have a retainer fee reaching $5,000 to $10,000.

Q: What Does the Defense Do in a Criminal Case?

A: In a criminal case, the defense prepares a claim that attempts to prove the innocence of the defendant. This usually involves a lawyer performing a number of services, such as gathering evidence, filing notices, negotiating plea deals, cross-examining witnesses in court, and more. The ultimate goal of the defense is to demonstrate that the client did not commit a crime.

Q: What Are the Four Types of Defenses?

A: The four types of defenses are self-defense, insanity, innocence, and constitutional violations. A claim of innocence means the defendant believes they’re innocent. A claim of self-defense means the defendant acted in a way to protect themselves from danger. An insanity claim means that the defendant may have committed the offense, but they were insane at the time and didn’t understand. Lastly, a claim of constitutional violations states there was misconduct in the trial.

Contact an Iredell County Criminal Defense Attorney

Criminal charges in North Carolina are serious. If you’re facing a criminal accusation, our accomplished criminal law firm is prepared to evaluate your case and work to defend your rights however possible. With over 20 years of experience, you can trust The Law Office of Michael D. Cleaves, PLLC, to handle your case with care. Contact us immediately to schedule your initial consultation today.

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