How are criminal attorney fees calculated?

Criminal defence attorneys are legal professionals. They represent individuals charged with criminal offences. Facing criminal charges, you might be curious about the expenses involved. Specifically, you may wonder about the cost of hiring a criminal defence attorney. Here is how illegal attorney fees are calculated in Canada.

criminal attorney fees calculated

Factors that Affect Fees

Criminal defence attorney fees depend on various factors. These factors include the attorney’s experience, education, and average local fees for similar services. Other aspects like case complexity, attorney reputation, and fee arrangement also play a role. This includes client or case time constraints and the skill needed to represent the client effectively.

Types of Fees

Criminal defence lawyers charge hourly rates in many regions. The rates are based on time, not flat rates covering the whole issue at a fixed amount. Contingency fees, however, entail a percentage of the recovered amount in a case.

Hourly Rate Legal Fees

Under an hourly rate agreement, the attorney receives a fixed hourly rate for their work. This fee is typically less than the client’s pay if billed hourly.

Average Rates

Criminal defence lawyers can charge you using hourly rates. The charges also vary based on regions; 

  • In Ontario, the average hourly rate for criminal defence falls within a range and can be as much as $400.
  • In Quebec, criminal defence lawyers’ hourly rates typically range from $100 up to $300.
  • The average hourly rate for criminal defence lawyers in all of Canada hovers around $58.

The rates range based on different factors. 

The amount may change based on the lawyer’s; 

  • Experience
  • Reputation
  • The complexity of the case

Advances and Capped Fees

Lawyers are entitled to require advances for their services, and capped fees are an excellent option to limit the costs of legal representation.


Detailed retainer terms and transparency in bills and work completed are essential.

Flat Rate Legal Fees

A flat fee means the lawyer will quote the total cost for the entire case representation. This flat fee may include all motions, discovery, trial prep, and trying the case.

Contingency Fees

Contingency fees are not allowed in criminal cases in Canada.

How Rates are Calculated

Lawyers can decide how much to charge, which might need to be clarified. They consider factors such as their level of experience, the intricacy of the case, and their estimate of the time required. This makes fees for legal services vary and sometimes unpredictable.

Additional Costs

Beyond the fees, there might be additional costs for your legal support, like filing fees. Lawyers might ask for an upfront payment, usually called a retainer.


Paying a criminal defence lawyer can be confusing. The price depends on how much the lawyer knows, and also how complex your case is. You can choose to pay by the hour or a fixed amount; you may even agree that he will take some share of what you win from this whole process until all legal disputes are settled (or both sides have given up). It’s also necessary to talk about how much you will pay and in what form before hiring a lawyer. This way, you’ll better understand the costs, making it less confusing. This ensures a clear understanding of the expenses involved. It is necessary to know the permitted fee structures when seeking legal representation.