So, you’re in trouble with the law. Whether you are facing jail time, losing your children, or simple fines, you need a lawyer. But lawyers are expensive, and you can’t afford one. You need to know how to pay for a lawyer with no money: find a lawyer with a payment plan.

Fortunately, there are many courses of action. In this post, attorney Belen Olmedo Guerra lists the possible recourse for anyone strapped for cash who needs a lawyer.

Phoenix Criminal Lawyer with a Payment Plan

Contingency fee cases, which we will talk about later in this post, are very common for personal injury cases. Knowing how contingency fees work is essential when you need to know how to pay for a lawyer with no money.

But in a criminal case, there are no damages, and your defense attorney cannot promise you results. There are also no monetary rewards for successfully defending a case. Defense attorneys have to eat just like the rest of us, after all. They can only do that if their clients pay their fees. 

So if you need to know how to pay for a lawyer with no money in a criminal case, what do you do? Get a lawyer in Phoenix with a payment plan. 

The good news is that criminal defense attorneys often work on payment plans. This is beneficial to both client and attorney. Attorneys need cases, but they know that there aren’t many people who can afford to pay 100% of their legal fees upfront.  

A criminal defense attorney will usually ask for some percentage of their fees at first, and then allow you to pay the rest in monthly installments.

Lawyers are not required to offer payment plans; they do it to enable their clients to hire them. Each law office will be different, and you should speak to your attorney directly about their options for payment plans. But in general, lawyers are much more aware of their client’s finances than, say, doctors.  

How Do Lawyers Charge Their Clients?

If you want to know how to pay for a lawyer with no money, it helps to know exactly how lawyers determine their fees. 

Standard legal fees do not exist because each case is unique. Many cases require only a quick consultation with a prosecutor or a judge. Clients can expect to pay much more for full trial representation.

Lawyers’ fees vary based on many factors, including:

  • Geography. Just as groceries and gasoline cost more in some areas, so do attorneys. If a lawyer is practicing in an area with high costs of living and high wages, they will naturally have higher fees. 
  • Complexity. Most attorneys charge higher fees for felonies than for misdemeanors. Felonies carry higher penalties and require more court appearances. They will also likely demand more research time from the attorney and their team. 
  • Experience. Less experienced attorneys will set lower fees than more experienced attorneys. If you encounter an extremely low hourly rate in an attorney, be cautious. An experienced attorney with a high hourly rate may resolve your issue with a few hours of work. A more novice attorney may take hundreds of hours to resolve the same issue. Thus the attorney with the higher hourly rate costs you less in the long run.

What is a Lawyer Retainer?

When a defense attorney is asking you to pay a significant amount of money, it helps to know exactly what you are paying for. If you are short on cash and need to know how to pay a lawyer with no money, this information is absolutely vital. 

When you are paying for a lawyer, you’re not only paying them to show up to court or to talk to a judge. You’re paying them for their time and experience in law, as well as the time it takes for them to conduct research into your case. For every hour your lawyer spends talking to you or talking to a judge or defending you in court, they and their team have spent many more researching and preparing. 

Interview Several Options 

If you’re considering how to pay for a lawyer with no money, the best thing to do is interview several different law offices and ask about their payment plans. Offices that allow you to speak directly to an attorney will be best; an attorney will be more sympathetic than a large corporate intake department.

Make sure you ask about a payment plan upfront. If the attorney is not forthcoming or does not answer to your satisfaction, look elsewhere. When you are figuring out how to pay an attorney with no money, you need transparency with the attorney you choose. 

Contingency Fee Cases

For some clients, contingency fees are how to pay for a lawyer with no money. The contingency fee arrangement means that the lawyer’s payment is contingent on winning the case. The client will pay nothing or very little out-of-pocket. At the end of the case, if the attorney wins, they take their fees out of the client’s award. If the attorney loses, the client pays nothing. 

This works in favor of both client and attorney. The client doesn’t accrue costs upfront, and the attorney has an incentive for a quick and rewarding outcome.

This fee structure works best for cases with large payouts and short timelines. This makes the attorney’s eventual reward worth the risk of taking the case on. Thus, contingency fee bases are common in liability, personal injury, auto accident, and medical malpractice cases. They are less common for family courts, bankruptcy, contract disputes, etc.

Contact the Belen Law Firm

In an ideal world, cost wouldn’t be a factor when you need an attorney. Nobody would be wondering how to pay for a lawyer with no money. But the world isn’t always ideal. 

Belen Olmedo Guerra is an experienced criminal defense attorney dedicated to serving the people of Phoenix. If you need legal counsel in the Phoenix area, call the Belen Law Firm at 602.715.0908. You can also fill out a short form on our website to schedule a completely free and confidential consultation.

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