How much do criminal lawyers charge for their services?

By Last Updated: May 17, 2023

Criminal lawyers typically charge a flat rate for different services provided rather than charging an hourly rate. The cost for legal services depends on the lawyer’s experience, as well as the complexity and nature of your case.

At Strategic Criminal Defence, the initial consultation is typically free of charge. During this initial consultation, a lawyer will perform a preliminary review of your case, and provide you with information about the Court process, possible outcomes, and options moving forward.

If you have not yet been charged with an offence, but believe that you will be charged with an offence, it is possible to obtain pre-charge advice. There is a fee associated with pre-charge advice, which is to be paid prior to the consultation. During this consultation, your lawyer will provide you with advice about any steps you should take prior to being contacted by the police, as well as advice about your rights when being questioned by the police. Your lawyer will also be on standby if you are arrested and need assistance obtaining release on bail.

If you have been arrested and the police are opposed to your release, it is in your best interest to hire a lawyer to assist you in securing your release on bail. The fee associated with hiring a lawyer to represent you for the purpose of securing bail will depend upon the seriousness of the charges, and the likelihood that your criminal record may complicate getting bail. This fee will cover assisting you in creating a strong release plan, negotiating with the Crown Prosecutor, and performing a bail hearing if necessary.

If you have been charged with an offence, have secured your release, and are looking to a hire a lawyer to assist you in your defence, the initial fee is a retainer. A retainer is a flat rate paid in advance of a lawyer beginning work on your file, and it covers ordering and reviewing disclosure, attending your court appearances, and negotiating with the Crown Prosecutor on your behalf. Depending on the seriousness and complexity of your charges, an additional investigation and file review fee may apply.

A trial fee will apply if your matter proceeds to trial, and the payment of this fee is due several weeks in advance of your trial date. Preparing for trial is labour intensive, time consuming, and essential to a successful defence. The trial fee covers both the preparation and execution of your trial. An additional fee will apply to subsequent trial days.

A trial can sometimes be avoided if your lawyer is able to come to a resolution with the Crown Prosecutor. This is sometimes referred to as plea bargaining, and is beneficial because avoiding a trial can prevent unnecessary risk and anxiety if a resolution with which you are satisfied can be achieved through negotiation. A resolution fee will apply if you decide to accept the plea bargain your lawyer has obtained.

A guilty plea fee will apply if you decide not to proceed to trial, and a plea bargain cannon be reached.  The fee for a guilty plea is typically less than a trial or plea bargain fee, but may still be substantial depending on the complexity of the case. Sometimes even if person pleads guilty, good sentencing submissions may result in no criminal record.  Alternatively, well structured sentencing submissions can shave years off a jail sentence. Most cases are fact specific in that regard, and the guilty plea fee will be discussed and structured according to the specific case at hand.

About The Author

Michael Oykhman

Managing Partner

Michael Oykhman is a senior lawyer and founder of Strategic Criminal Defence, a full-service criminal law firm with central law offices across Western Canada and Ontario.

My professional experience consists of countless court appearances and thousands of successful defences and satisfied clients. Over the last 10 years, I have worked to build a law office where all the lawyers share our collective experience, resources, and passion to help people. Our team approach to legal representation is client–rather than only law–centred. We look for opportunities to add value to our clients through strategic thinking and creative solutions.

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