If you’re searching Broward criminal defense attorneys for hire, you’re likely wondering how much it’s going to cost. You’ve probably heard at least one attorney advertisement with the phrase, “We only get paid if you win.” Important to note: This does NOT apply to criminal defense lawyers – and for good reasons, which we’ll explain more later.
However, those with limited financial resources still have options.
If you’ve been arrested in Fort Lauderdale, it’s important to both carefully plan your next move and try your best to stay within budget. The right attorney can help you do that. Attorneys are ethically bound to only charge “reasonable” fees for their services. If their charges are excessive, they could face action from the state Bar Association.
Here, we’re going to break down how payments to Florida criminal defense lawyers work and what you can expect when hiring an attorney.
Your Right to Free Counsel
Most people have heard the phrase, “You have the right to an attorney… If you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you at no cost…”
This is part of the “Miranda Warning,” a required statement made prior to custodial interrogations (questioning that occurs after police have arrested or detained someone). However, people mistakenly assume that this right to free legal counsel applies to all criminal defendants. It does not.
Let’s start with the fact that the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is what gives criminal defendants the right to counsel – regardless of whether they can afford it – in federal prosecutions. However, most criminal prosecutions in Florida occur at the state level, pursued by state-level prosecutors, who are referred to as state attorneys. The right to counsel was not applied to state prosecutions for felony offenses until the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright. The incorporation doctrine applied this right to state felony cases, but it does not apply for certain misdemeanors.
In Florida state-level prosecutions, you do have the right to a state-appointed criminal defense lawyer if:
- You are facing jail time AND
- You cannot afford one on your own.
If you can afford to hire your own lawyer, it’s a good idea to do so. We have known excellent criminal defense lawyers working for the Florida Public Defender’s Office. However, they are often carrying heavy caseloads, and may not have a great deal of time to dedicate to your case. Hiring a private criminal defense lawyer is typically to your advantage.
It’s a common misconception that because you aren’t appointed a criminal defense lawyer that you don’t need one. While lower-level misdemeanors may not involve jail time, a conviction can often have a significant impact on your life – one that a qualified criminal defense lawyer can work to substantially mitigate. It is typically to your advantage – financially and otherwise – to hire a Broward criminal defense lawyer even for misdemeanor cases.
Why Can’t Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers Be Paid on a Contingency Fee Basis?
The phrase, “We don’t get paid unless you win” refers to a contingency fee arrangement with an attorney. Continue reading