How Does a Federal Lawyer Decide How Much to Charge?

Posted by Ronald D. HeddingJan 09, 2023

I've been doing this for 30 years, and I can give you an idea of what goes into the process of deciding how much a federal criminal defense attorney will charge you to handle your or your loved one's case.

How Does a Federal Lawyer Decide How Much to Charge?

The first thing I would mention is proximity.  How close is the attorney's central office to the court where the case is pending?  For example, my fees are much more reasonable for cases in the central district, and several federal courthouses are there. 

There's a couple in downtown Los Angeles, the Roybal building and then the main new courthouse on First Street. Then another central district courthouse, the Santa Ana Courthouse, and one in Riverside.

So, in these courthouses in this neck of the woods for me, as a criminal defense attorney doing federal cases, I'm going to charge much more reasonable rates than, say, for example, if I've got to take a case in New York, which is a good distance from my office. 

Good federal defense attorneys can take cases all over the nation because the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are the same everywhere in the United States.  So, the first thing that impacts price is proximity.

Skill Level

The second thing, and I think it's important, is the skill level of the attorney you're dealing with. 

If you've got a new attorney handling federal cases for less than five years, you'll probably get a reasonable rate, but you're not going to have somebody with vast experience. I've been handling federal cases for decades, so I have a lot of experience.

So my fees are reasonable, but by the same token, the lawyers in the category that have been doing it this long are going to charge for their experience to handle a federal case which is time-consuming and can be costly as far as appearances, motion work, dealing with the prosecutors and a host of other things that can happen depending on the type of case and what direction the case takes.

Trail vs. Plea Agreement

Another big thing I think will impact how much you're going to get charged whether the case is going to go to trial or whether it's going to be a case that's going to be resolved by way of a plea agreement. 

If it can be resolved through a plea agreement, you'll get a much better price than if the case is going to go to trial.

Number of Defendants

The next factor would be how many co-defendants are there in the case.  Are there multiple co-defendants, and you have numerous attorneys to deal with, or is it just a one-defendant case?

Suppose it's just a one-defendant case. In that case, you'll get a much better price because the attorney will have to deal with themselves and the prosecutor versus other attorneys who cost time and money when it comes to court and other things related to the case.

Initial Meeting with Defense Lawyer

So, that starts to give you an idea of costs. The best thing to do is meet with the attorney.  Talk to them about it.  Give them some information about the case.

Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers

When somebody calls me and gives me information about the case, I can usually give them a quote over the phone and provide them with an idea of what I would charge for handling the type of case they're talking about. 

That's what you know, and if it's something that's in the budget and you like the attorney and see they've got good reviews, they've got a lot of experience, and you feel comfortable after you talk to them, now you can go into the office and meet with them, and if you like them, you can retain them.

So, suppose you or a loved one needs a federal criminal defense attorney. In that case, I can offer a very reasonable price for the experience I've got having handled many federal cases over the years.   

Pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  The Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles, CA.