Many of us are familiar with the adage, “you get what you pay for.”[1] This axiom basically means that cheap things are, well, cheap things. A licensed contractor charges more than an unlicensed handyman, but a licensed contractor usually does a better job. This aphorism isn’t always true. In many cases, the same overseas company supplies plain hoodies to Target and designer hoodies to Hollister. Be advised that this logic often doesn’t sway teenagers during back-to-school shopping.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to counsel for a reason. A Rochester criminal defense lawyer makes a huge difference in a criminal case. Most of us have bought vehicles at dealerships, so you know that the salesperson basically dictates the price. That’s the way plea negotiations, which resolve almost all criminal cases, usually go if the defendant doesn’t have a lawyer. But the reality is that many defendants spend so much on jail release that they don’t have much left over for legal fees. In this post, we’ll evaluate some low-cost criminal defense options.

What’s at Stake

Most judges do not allow cases to move forward unless the defendant has a lawyer. If the case doesn’t move forward, many defendants eventually violate a bail condition and wind up back in jail, usually until the case is resolved.

Jail time, court supervision, and fines are bad enough. An affordable criminal defense attorney in Rochester can evaluate your case, identify possible defenses, and reduce or eliminate these direct consequences.

Quite often, the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction are worse than the direct consequences. DUI conviction is a good example.

These convictions usually double auto insurance rates.[2] New York law usually requires these drivers to obtain high-risk SR22 insurance and maintain these policies for at least three years. Higher insurance rates usually make up most of the eye-popping costs of a first-time DUI. Legal fees usually make up most of the remainder.

Are Court-Appointed Attorneys Effective Legal Assistance for Budget-Conscious Clients?

Frequently, even experienced defense lawyers take appointed and private cases. If Mike hires his own lawyer and the judge appoints a lawyer for Jesse, these two miscreants might have the same lawyer.

Here’s the difference. Mike chose his lawyer based on that lawyer’s experience, dedication, and other qualities. Jesse took his chances and got lucky with quality legal representation—but he could have just as easily been unlucky.

Criminal defense shouldn’t be left to chance. When you go through a drive-through line, you might zip right through, or you might wait forever. Additionally, if the clerk messes up your order, you can get another cheeseburger. But if a court-appointed Rochester criminal defense lawyer messes up your case, real trouble ensues.

Furthermore, only indigent defendants are entitled to court-appointed lawyers. Different judges define indigent, or poor, in different ways. Most Monroe County judges assume that if the defendant had sufficient resources for bail, the defendant has sufficient resources to hire a lawyer.

Flat Fees and Hourly Fees

All court-appointed lawyers aren’t created equally, and all criminal defense fee structures aren’t created equally. The difference between a flat fee and an hourly fee could save a defendant a lot of money.

Flat fee lawyers typically charge stairstep fees, such as X for an agreed or open plea, X+Y for a bench trial, and X+Z for a jury trial. Bench trials and jury trials are much more time-consuming than pleas. The price is the same regardless of how much time the lawyer spends on the case.

As one of our colleagues once said, hourly fee lawyers typically charge the client every time they take a breath in his/her name. When considering all the work that goes into a criminal case, like investigations, court appearances, witness interviews, phone calls, emails, and so on, the bill gets very large, very fast.

The fee structure isn’t the only way to save money on an affordable criminal defense attorney in Rochester. Fees are negotiable. Furthermore, New York has more lawyers per capita than almost any other state. If one lawyer charges too much, a lower-priced alternative is probably down the street.

A good lawyer is also an affordable lawyer. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester traffic violation attorney, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. We routinely handle matters in Monroe County and nearby jurisdictions.






The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.

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