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.