2024 How Much Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Cost in Los Angeles, CA?

Gibbons & Gibbons a law Corporations

In Los Angeles, a criminal defense lawyer’s costs will depend on your situation. All legal cases come with inherent complexity, but criminal law cases can be particularly complicated. How much a criminal defense lawyer costs in Los Angeles, California, is dependent on your unique criminal case, the lawyer you select, and other contributing factors. Before partnering with a criminal defense lawyer, it can be helpful to understand the fees and factors that add up to the total cost.

Types of Fees

There are a few different ways that you may be able to pay for a criminal defense lawyer. The two main types of payment methods for criminal defense lawyers are flat fees and hourly rates. It is also possible that you will pay with a combination of the two. Contingent fees are not available in a criminal law case, although they are available in civil cases.

Why Contingency Fees Aren’t Available in Criminal Cases

Contingent fees are ones that a lawyer will collect only after they have won a case or recovered money for their client. This usually looks like the lawyer claiming a certain percentage of money recovered from the case. For example, a lawyer may agree to a 20% contingent fee in a trucking accident. If the lawyer wins the case and the client receives $10,000, the lawyer will receive $2,000, and the client will keep the other $8,000.

In a criminal case, however, they are both impractical and unethical. They are impractical in that criminal cases do not result in the defendant recovering money. Unethical as the result of the case determines the lawyer’s financial gain and may sway the lawyer in unhelpful ways.

Flat Fees

Flat fees are a set price that a client will pay a lawyer, often for a particular stage of the criminal case process. A flat fee can protect the client, as regardless of the number of hours or amount of work the lawyer puts in, the fee remains the same. On the flip side, many lawyers will not choose a flat fee option if your case is particularly complicated, as they may anticipate working extra hours on your defense.

Hourly Rates

For more complex cases or stages of the case, it is common for a lawyer to instead request an hourly rate. This ensures that they are compensated for all their hours of research and work on your behalf.

Hourly rates will depend on factors such as your defense lawyer’s experience and education. If your criminal defense lawyer asks an hourly rate of $250 and then works on your case for 4 hours, you will owe your lawyer $1000. It is also not unusual to pay a retainer or deposit, from which your lawyer will draw the appropriate amount as they complete work on your case.

How Are Criminal Defense Lawyer Costs Calculated

Each criminal law case is unique, which means that a lawyer often will set an hourly fee or a flat fee based on your specific set of circumstances. When calculating costs, your lawyer will consider details such as:

  • If the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony
  • The time and resources required to understand the laws pertaining to your case and apply them to prepare a solid defense
  • Strengths and weaknesses in your defense
  • Potential witnesses, their testimonies, and how they will help or hinder your defense
  • If hiring another professional, such as a private investigator, could strengthen the defense

Your defense lawyer will also take into consideration the experience and skills they have to offer, their years of education and employment, and their degree of success with cases like yours. You can also consider these factors when deciding if the price offered is one you think is reasonable.

Additional Costs to Consider

When you are evaluating the costs of your criminal defense case, you should also consider fees beyond the hourly or flat rate that your lawyer will charge. These can include additional costs your lawyer may ask you to cover, post-conviction legal fees, and other additional costs.

  1. Post-conviction fees: These include costs for getting your criminal record expunged, removing bench warrants, and addressing any violations of your probation.
  2. Additional lawyer fees: These can include a wide range of costs, such as court filing fees, costs to pay investigators or witnesses, travel costs if your attorney needs to travel while creating your defense, etc. You should ensure that you discuss the details of what you are responsible for paying and outline it clearly in writing.


Q: How Much Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Cost in Los Angeles, CA?

A: The cost of a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles will vary significantly based on the severity of the crime you have been charged with, the complexity of your particular case, and who you choose to hire. For an accurate cost estimate, you will need to talk with potential defense attorneys. That being said, misdemeanor cases have been known to range from $1,500-$6,500 and felony cases from $4,500 to $15,000 for lawyer fees. Your unique case may be more than this, however.

Q: What Do Most Attorneys Charge Per Hour?

A: There is no standard hourly rate charged by criminal defense attorneys in California, but on average, you can expect hourly fees to range from $250 to $500. Expect a higher range if you choose a particularly seasoned lawyer to represent you or if your case is exceptionally complex.

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

A: There is no cap on retainer fees for lawyers in California. The fee could range from $1000 to $5000 or more. As with all fees, it is important to understand precisely what you will owe your lawyer, whether you will receive part of your retainer fee back, and whether you could be refunded the entirety of your retainer fee. Be sure you understand any written agreements you make with your criminal defense attorney.

Fighting Criminal Charges

If you are facing criminal charges and are looking for a seasoned criminal defense lawyer, the Gibbons & Gibbons team is ready to support you through the process. With over 60 years of experience, we have worked to establish ourselves as a respected and reputable criminal law firm. If you have any questions or are looking for support, reach out to us today.