You get what you pay for; It is an old saying but still true. Sometimes inexpensive means a bargain, and sometimes is just means cheap. I have written before about clients paying too much for some criminal defense attorneys. These are usually the ones who bill themselves as metro hotshots with fancy cars, slick offices, custom tailored suits. They spend a lot of money maintaining an image, and pass the costs on to their clients.

One can also go too far in the other direction. Some of the fees I hear quoted for criminal work are amazingly low, so low that the attorneys involved are either losing money on them, or are doing almost no work for their clients. Handling a criminal case is not just a quick meeting with the prosecutor and striking a deal. While most cases settle based on an agreement, there is a huge amount of work that goes into getting a good deal for your client. Information is obtained from the prosecution, reviewed, discussed with the client, legal issues are researched, in some cases independent investigations are conducted. In many cases pre-trial motions are filed and argued, pre-trial motion work can take months and involve multiple hearings.

If an attorney is willing to take on criminal work at a loss, more power to them. In most cases, low fees mean the attorney is not planning to put much into the case. If all you can afford is a low fee, that is better than nothing. Even a misdemeanor criminal case, if handled the wrong way can have long term negative consequences. If you are dealing with a felony the wrong move can send you to prison. If you do go low budget make sure to bank the money you save, there is a good chance you will need it for your prison commissary account, phone cards and snacks get expensive.