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How much does a criminal defense lawyer cost in Washington State?

by | May 20, 2024 | Firm News

The cost of hiring a criminal defense lawyer in Washington State can vary widely depending on several factors including the complexity of the case, the lawyer’s experience, and the specific charges involved. Here’s a broad overview:

  1. Hourly Rates and Retainers: Many criminal defense attorneys charge by the hour, with rates typically ranging from $300 to $500 per hour. More experienced attorneys or those from larger firms in urban areas tend to charge on the higher end. Often, attorneys require a retainer fee upfront, which is a pre-payment that they draw from as they work on your case.  We charge $500 an hour but set most cases as flat fees so our client knows the total cost right from the beginning.
  2. Flat Fees: Some attorneys might offer a flat fee arrangement. This can be common for straightforward matters like misdemeanor DUIs or minor drug offenses. Flat fees can range widely but might start from $4,000 for simple cases and go up to $50,000 or more.  We pride ourselves on our experience and our ability to set flat fees for clients even on my complex criminal matters.  This grants some certainty to a client in an uncertain time.  The last thing one needs, when already facing jail time, disruption to family and other dire consequences, is to also have unlimited legal fees also building up.
  3. Case Complexity: The more complex the case, the higher the cost. Felony charges, for instance, generally incur higher costs due to the extensive preparation and longer court time required. High-stakes cases such as those involving serious felonies might even exceed $100,000 or more in legal fees.
  4. Additional Costs: Beyond attorney’s fees, there may be additional costs for things like expert witnesses, investigators, and other expenses necessary to build a strong defense. These are usually discussed upfront.  And we have significant connections that we can likely help you save considerable amounts on any of these extraneous costs.

Smith & White, PLLC appreciates the work and possible sacrifice of our service personnel. For this reason, we offer a 20% discount to active members and their immediate family. We are also willing to extend payments for a longer period to help our service people. If you feel that you are some kind of person, not a service person, but still deserving of recognition for your service to our city, state or country, please do not hesitate to bring the issue to us. We have discretion to grant the 20% discount.

We generally charge fixed fees that are known before you make the decision to hire us. While individual cases vary in their likely complexity, we generally base rates on the class of offense with misdemeanors costing more than Class A felonies and Class B felonies costing more than Class C. Our Fees include our staff and investigator fees, so they include all fees you will pay to our company.

Traditionally, lawyers charge hourly rates. We firmly believe this is part of why the general public doesn’t care about lawyers. Since the cases are very expensive, the costs are usually for an unforeseen circumstance, and a specific outcome is not guaranteed, attorneys are perceived as adding insult to injury by taking out cases for increased billable hours. Additionally, the lawyer may leave before the case is resolved, despite being paid very high fees because the client has run out of money. This leaves a bad taste as the customer often feels like they have paid thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars with no results. We enjoy our jobs and we do this work to help people. So we prefer it when our customers have a good experience. Knowing what a case will cost is an important part of that, which is why we provide you with a fixed legal fee from the start.