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2024 How Much Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Cost in Texas?

Facing criminal charges, whether a low-level misdemeanor or a Class A felony, is distressing. Regardless of innocence, a criminal conviction has a direct impact on your life, as well as far-reaching ripple effects. It is common knowledge that working with a criminal defense attorney in Houston, TX, can alleviate stress and lead to a better case outcome, but understanding how much a criminal defense attorney costs in Texas requires an understanding of the factors involved.

How Much Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Cost

When hiring a professional to provide you with services such as home repair, you will often pay more for someone who has relevant experience and a solid reputation. This is true for hiring an attorney as well. Hiring the right criminal defense lawyer is key to success. Education level, years of experience, and knowledge a legal professional can offer you will also factor into how much they charge. A seasoned criminal defense lawyer can fairly charge more for their work.

Your case complexity will also factor heavily into lawyer fees. If, for example, you are facing a first-time Driving While Intoxicated charge where you were driving your own vehicle and no one was injured, you are likely to pay less than if you were driving a commercial vehicle and got into a collision where someone got injured. The severity and complexity of your charges increase the time and effort your lawyer has to invest and, therefore, the money you have to invest as well.

Common Cases a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help With

Criminal law covers a wide array of crimes and situations, ranging from DUIs for underage drinking and driving to homicide cases. Some of the types of criminal cases a Texas criminal defense attorney can take on include:

  • Drug crimes
  • Theft
  • Destruction of property
  • Sex offenses, pimping, and prostitution
  • Violent crimes
  • Domestic violence
  • Driving While Intoxicated

Depending on whether the crime committed is a misdemeanor or a felony, as well as the evidence and specific details of the case, a lawyer may increase or decrease the amount they charge. As an example, if you are facing first-degree theft charges, you should expect to pay far more in legal fees than if you are dealing with a Class C misdemeanor theft charge.

Types of Lawyer Payment Structures

There are three general types of payment structures associated with criminal law cases, and a fourth is connected to civil law cases. Understanding these can set you up for success as you discuss and settle on an amenable payment structure.

  1. Hourly Rates: These rates are set by the lawyer and are dependent on previously discussed factors, such as experience and case complexity. Hourly rates protect lawyers from being underpaid, particularly if the case takes more research and hours of effort than anticipated.
  2. Flat Rates: A flat rate is a set amount that you will pay a lawyer to complete either a portion of the casework or potentially all the casework. Lawyers are more likely to do a flat rate if they are confident of how many hours your case will demand. Flat rates protect clients from unexpected charges, as even if a lawyer invests extra time, the total cost should not change.
  3. Retainer Fees: This term can refer to a couple of different things, but in this case, a retainer fee goes alongside a retainer agreement and an hourly rate structure. The retainer fee looks like a separate trust account where you deposit a chunk of money for your lawyer. They will draw out the funds as they put time into your case.
  4. Contingency Fees: These types of fees will not be relevant for your criminal case but may be relevant if you are dealing with a civil case alongside your criminal case. Contingency fees are a set amount, usually a percentage, that a lawyer will take if you are awarded damages and receive a monetary settlement from a case. These fees are only paid to the lawyer if you win the civil case.


Q: What Is the Average Retainer Fee for a Criminal Lawyer in Texas?

A: Retainer fees will vary by lawyer, similar to overall lawyer fees. If you are paying an hourly rate of $250, it is likely your retainer fee will be at least a couple thousand dollars. It is common to need to keep a minimum balance as well, so if the $2000 you set aside for your lawyer to pull out as they work on your case dips below a certain level, you will need to put more in.

Q: How Much Does a Lawyer Charge in Texas?

A: As examined above, there is, unfortunately, no clear answer to this question. Lawyer fees depend on the lawyer’s experience and your criminal case. Hourly fees may be in the $250-$350 range, but to get an accurate estimate of costs, you will need to discuss prices directly with your chosen legal firm. You should anticipate spending at least several thousand dollars in legal fees, if not more.

Q: How Much Is a Lawyer for a Misdemeanor in Texas?

A: A lawyer for a misdemeanor in Texas is typically less expensive than one for a felony case. If, for example, a lawyer charged $350 per hour for a felony case, they might charge $250 per hour for a misdemeanor case. If they have handled similar misdemeanor situations and know how many hours they usually need to work on this case, you may be charged a flat versus an hourly fee, saving you from unanticipated costs.

Q: Do You Have to Pay for a Court Appointed Attorney in Texas?

A: Similar to questions about lawyer costs, the answer is that it depends on the situation. Court-appointed attorneys are qualified legal representatives meant to serve those who cannot afford to hire a lawyer for themself. It is still possible, however, that the court will demand that you pay back the appointed attorney fees as a part of your probation or bond.

The cost of a criminal defense attorney in Texas will fluctuate, but when you are dealing with legal ramifications such as prison time and thousands of dollars in fines, legal advocates who fight for you are extremely valuable. Our team at the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, wants to fight for justice and an optimal outcome for you. If you have further questions about lawyer fees or about your particular case, reach out to us today.

Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC