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How Much Do Buffalo Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyers Cost?

by | Apr 14, 2018 | Buffalo, Criminal Defense, Firm News

Price varies significantly among attorneys, just like price varies significantly among exterminators. A guy with a rat trap he bought at a department store will charge much less than someone with the latest chemicals. Exterminators far outside Buffalo may charge a premium to come to your house. An exterminator who just received her license yesterday will charge less than someone with years of experience. And the list goes on.

Similarly, Buffalo MN Criminal Defense Lawyers different fees based on a variety of factors. Criminal Defense Lawyers also charge certain kinds of fees, and it’s important to know what each one means.

How Do Buffalo Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyers Determine Legal Fees?

The Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct cover a wide range of topics concerning a lawyer’s ethical behavior. Not many other professions, or many other state bars, have rules that are this extensive. So, when you partner with a Buffalo criminal defense attorney, you are getting one of the best.

Rule 1.5 covers legal fees. Under this rule, attorneys may only take certain factors into account when they set fees. These factors include:

  • Amount of Time Involved: Lawyers do not punch time clocks, in most cases. But the estimated amount of time involved is one of the biggest factors in this area. For example, a case with complicated search and seizure issues may take much more time to resolve that a case with a straightforward fact pattern.
  • Experience: If you only have one rat in the house, you may consider hiring the guy with the department store trap. But if you have a serious infestation, you need to pay additional money for a more experienced professional.
  • Skill Required: Most criminal attorneys charge far less for plea bargained-agreements than they do for jury trials. The latter requires infinitely more skill than the former. Additionally, successful trial attorneys often have a natural talent that other lawyers simply do not possess.
  • Preclusion of Other Employment: This factor relates back to the time factor. If a case will require a substantial time investment, a lawyer cannot take on other projects. Conversely, if a matter will probably wrap up quickly, a lawyer should probably charge less, for the same reason.
  • Customary Fee in the Area: If most lawyers charge $1,000 for a certain service, a $1,500 fee may be a little high and a $500 fee is possibly too low. Of course, there are other factors to consider as well.

Other factors include the seriousness of the charges, the nature of the issues in the case, and any pre-existing relationship with the client (i.e. a “frequent flyer” discount).

Types of Fees in Wright County

The Rules prohibit certain kinds of fees in Buffalo criminal cases. For example, attorneys may not charge any type of contingent fee in criminal cases. They must be paid upfront. That’s the state’s rule and not the lawyer’s rule. However, there are several permissible kinds of fee structures:

  • Flat Fee: The attorney charges a fixed fee for his/her representation in the entire case, whether it ends in a plea bargain or a Supreme Court argument. Because so many things can happen in a Wright County criminal defense matter, straight-up flat fees are rare.
  • Stairstep Fee: This fee structure is very common in criminal cases. For example, an attorney might charge $500 for a negotiated settlement, $1,000 for a trial before a judge (bench trial), and $2,000 for a jury trial. Contingent fees in personal injury cases work in much the same way.
  • Unbundled Representation: The Rules once entirely prohibited limited representation. It was all or nothing. These arrangements are still very rare in criminal cases, but they’re rather common in many family law cases. For example, in an expunction proceeding, an attorney might “ghostwrite” the application but not provide representation at the hearing.

Beware the attorney who charges nonrefundable flat fees, minimum fees, or anything else that is not on the approved list. These arrangements are on shaky ethical ground, and that’s a very bright red flag.

Should I Go with a Court-Appointed Lawyer?

In especially complex, high-profile cases, such as capital murder, Wright County judges sometimes appoint top criminal defense attorneys. Moreover, Wright County has a very competent public defenders’ office. The myth of the overworked and incompetent court-appointed lawyer is, well, a myth.

However, there are some very good reasons to hire your own attorney. Most public-provided attorneys only have limited availability. If you can only meet with your lawyer at certain times, that’s a major disadvantage. Furthermore, especially with regard to misdemeanors, many assistant public defenders are quite inexperienced.

Do not hesitate to ask your public-provided lawyer about the number of cases s/he has handled, where s/he obtained her law degree, and other such questions. If you do not like the answers, you have an absolute right to hire a private attorney in Buffalo.


You have the right to pay a reasonable fee, and your lawyer has a right to charge a reasonable fee. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Buffalo, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Our office is conveniently located near the intersection of Central Avenue and Highway 55.