TORONTO – LEGAL – Whether you are guilty or not, if you are accused of a crime in Toronto, it is imperative that you find a local professional to defend you in court. The problem is that hiring a criminal lawyer is not an inexpensive proposition. While it’s necessary, unfortunately not all people accused of crimes have a limitless budget to hire a defense attorney. If you think that you are innocent, and so you don’t need an attorney — think again. Having someone protect your freedom and your reputation is critical for your future. If you are going to hire a lawyer, however, don’t hire them solely based on what they charge.
If you are accused of a crime and you are convicted, that charge will remain on your record. That can hurt your future career aspects, your ability to work in certain industries, and in some instances, even where you can rent a place to live. Even though it’s expensive, given the ways a charge can impact your life, it is necessary to hire the right professional to defend you, whether or not you are guilty.
How much does it cost to hire an attorney?
Just like any other industry, the cost of a criminal attorney Toronto, can vary greatly depending on what you hire them for and their reputation. Because every criminal allegation is different and has its own set of unique characteristics, lawyers typically get paid by the hour. This means the more complex your charges are, the more hiring a lawyer will cost you. These factors will help to determine how much a lawyer will charge:
- How much disclosure or evidence they have to sift through
- Is there any chance that the Crown will agree to either offer a settlement or to dismiss the charges altogether?
- How much documentation do you need to prove your case and how much investigation needs to be done to uncover the trust?
- Is the client willing to try to reach a plea agreement, or are they set on escalating the case to court?
- Are there witnesses and does the lawyer need to do any of their own investigator work or hire resources to do so?
- Are there other mitigating factors to your defense like excessive police force, unconstitutional arguments, rights to counsel or illegal detention that need to be argued?
- Does the witness want to testify on their own behalf?
- Is there video surveillance of the criminal act?
- Does the client have a prior record that will make the proceedings more complex ?
- Is the client able to meet with the lawyer in the lawyer’s office, or are they being detained, which means that the lawyer will have to travel?
It is all those small factors that continue to add up to more time for your lawyer and increase their fees. This mean calculating an average cost for what a criminal lawyer will cost is highly dependent on the circumstances of your individual case.
Block or flat fees versus hourly fees
There are two ways that a criminal lawyer in Toronto will bill clients. They can use either the block or flat fee schedule or an hourly fee. If you are worried about costs getting out of control and have a limited budget to work with, then playing a flat or block fee might be the better and safer alternative to paying by the hour. In Toronto, the average criminal lawyer charges anywhere from $75 to over $750 an hour, depending on their experience and level of expertise.
Many attorneys, especially those in criminal law, have moved away from the block or flat rate fee schedules into hourly fees. That can be extremely risky for clients who have complicated cases. Without knowing how many hours a case will take, agreeing to pay someone by the hour can easily put someone into bankruptcy. In 2012, the average conviction trial in Toronto costs about $3,598 for just one day; a bail hearing can cost as much as $960 or more; and a criminal trial — for one day — is about $4175. For high-profile cases, you can see how costs can get out of control pretty quickly.
If you are arrested for a crime in Toronto, regardless of whether or not you are guilty, it is always best to hire a professional criminal attorney. Although a lawyer may come with a high price tag, if you are convicted you can end up with a criminal record that could cost you way more.