The most common questions we get when someone is arrested in Chicago or anywhere else in Cook County are as follows:
- Who is the best Chicago criminal defense lawyer near me?
- What’s it going to cost me?
I’ve had other posts on who the best is. Briefly, it depends on which court you are going to, what you are charged with, your goals, your prior record, and what is unique about your situation.
As for the cost, it also depends. The biggest factor is what are you charged with? If it’s a misdemeanor, which could result in jail time of up to a year, the cost seems to be between $1,500 and $2,500 depending on the case facts.
If you have a felony charge which is more serious, the cost for a good lawyer usually starts at around $2,500 and goes up from there based on the amount of work that needs to be done and the seriousness of the offense. By “good lawyer” I mean one who will do whatever they can to get the best result possible. While probation is sometimes a good result, it’s also a conviction that stays on your record. A good lawyer isn’t going to tell you to accept that when a better result is possible.
In other cases, a good lawyer may be the difference between going to jail for two years versus going to jail for ten. I will never forget a call I got years ago from a mother thanking me because her son was only going to prison for four years when the previous lawyer told them that 12 would be the minimum. Fortunately, I was able to refer her to a very well-connected and experienced Chicago criminal lawyer.
The cost goes up based on the severity of the felony. The cost of a felony retail theft charge for stealing a piece of jewelry is going to be much less than hiring a lawyer to defend a rape charge, attempted murder, aggravated assault, etc. even though all of those cases are very serious.
Just about every attorney I know and recommend for criminal defense cases works on a flat fee basis. That means you aren’t paying them by the hour, but instead it’s a set amount. Sometimes that can include a payment plan after a deposit.
A good private attorney is by far the best option. If you can’t afford a lawyer the next best option is to ask the Judge to appoint a Public Defender. This is a free, court-appointed attorney. The good is that they are free. The bad is that they are overworked, underpaid and it’s not likely they will communicate with you as the case goes on, certainly not to the extent that most people want. That said, it’s a much better choice than hiring a super cheap lawyer who is basically going to hold your hand while you plead guilty and doesn’t do any work to help you.
I get that being arrested can be a confusing and scary time. If you’d like a free consultation with an experienced lawyer, call us at 312-346-5320 any time.