Most people don’t expect to be charged with a crime, and almost no one is prepared for the cost of fighting a criminal charge in the North Carolina court system. If you plan to hire an attorney, you’ll have to pay attorneys fees and if you are found guilty, there will be court costs and fines. Depending on the type of case, there may also be restitution and treatment program fees. A good criminal attorney might have fees starting at a few hundred dollars for minor cases up to six figures for major crimes and complex cases. So how is one supposed to pay those fees, especially when they are unexpected?
Many criminal attorneys accept payment plans for cases. Others don’t. For some, it depends on the situation. There are many decision making factors as to why an attorney would choose whether or not to accept a payment plan.
Why An Attorney Should Accept Payment Plans
- Accepting payment plans will make hiring an attorney more affordable for more people, meaning that an attorney will be able to be hired on a greater number of cases.
- Accepting a payment plan builds trust in the client-attorney relationship.
- Payment plans allow clients to potentially afford a higher caliber attorney than they might other wise be able to afford.
- Attorney’s like to have a flow of income based on payments due on a rolling basis from their clients – this provides financial stability.
Why An Attorney Might Not Accept Payment Plans
- The attorney’s client profile is based on people that can afford to pay fees in full up front.
- The attorney is so in demand the he can command full fees up front if someone really wants to hire him.
- The attorney wants to weed out a certain type of client.
- The attorney is concerned that the client won’t pay on a payment plan.
- The up front investment in the case will be so great that the full fee needs to be paid at the beginning.
- The attorney wants to get as much money up front as possible to take advantage of the fee.
- The case will be resolved quickly.
- The client has waited until the last minute or after multiple court dates to hire an attorney.
At The Chetson Firm, we accept most clients on payment plans because we believe it’s the right thing to do. We believe it sends the wrong message to try to get as much money as possible up front from a client because it might impact their ability to bond out of jail or get the treatment they need to be successful. While there are certain cases where we do make the determination that we need to be paid in full up front, those cases are rare.
The other thing that is very important to us is not to bleed a client dry. If we can see that a client is really going to struggle financially, we don’t want to take their last dime. But we also tell them not to just hire a cheap attorney, because you get what you pay for. You should hire the best attorney you can afford, and if you can’t afford one, then get a public defender. A cheap hired attorney can sometimes be much worse than a public defender. Many people have a bad impression of public defenders and believe that they must hire a private attorney at all costs. But there are some excellent public defenders in Wake County that can usually offer a better service than a cut rate attorney. A cheap attorney is a cheap attorney for a reason – they don’t have experience or a good reputation and their services are in demand, so they take what they can get. It’s harsh to say, but it’s true. If you call 10 DWI attorneys and each one quotes you $2,000-$2,500 and one quotes you $750, instead of being relieved you should run the other way. Beyond this, if we see a client struggling trying to hire us and we don’t think that we will get a better result than a public defender, we’ll decline the case and advise the client to save the money and request the public defender.
We’d rather be known for compassion and not trying to get rich of the backs of our clients, providing excellent legal service in the process.