Fees In Criminal Cases

Every so often, a perspective client will ask me if I will charge on a contingent fee basis for a criminal case. A contingent fee means that the amount of money due is dependent on the outcome of the case. Just today, a lady asked me if she could pay me half the fee up front and the other half if I win her husband’s case.

This is a reasonable question, because some types of lawyers normally charge on a contingent basis. However, criminal defense attorneys are simply not permitted to do this. Rule of Professional Responsibility 1.5(d)(2) states clearly that a lawyer may not charge a contingent fee in a criminal case.

So, much as a lawyer might want to make such an agreement with a client, it is simply unethical to do so.

1 Comment on Fees In Criminal Cases

  1. By the way, this rule does not extend to the so-called “quasi criminal” cases. I have handled asset forfeiture cases, for example, on a contingent fee basis, or a split fee basis.

    Split fee means some cash up front in exchange for a reduced contingency fee.

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