Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

How Much Does A DUI Lawyer Cost?


Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

DUI fees range from $1,500 to $15,000. Many people ask why there is such a difference. The reason has a lot to do with facts, circumstances and skills. For example, the facts of a DUI case are critical. You may have aggravating factors, and an aggravating factor would be DUI with the higher blood alcohol level. A DUI with a serious bodily injury is a felony right off-the-bat, and when you are looking at DUIs with serious bodily injuries, or DUIs with manslaughters, suddenly you are looking at a much higher fee, simply because of the liability, and the liability causes there to be a great deal of work that is necessary.

When you see DUI fees quoted on the bottom-end, that is usually a scenario where someone wants to get it over with as quickly as possible, they do not want a defense to be mounted, and they are looking for the least expensive, yet the safest way to get through the case. Unfortunately, many times people are quoted fees that are low. To be true, the reality is that fee is quoted with the attorney going into a case with a mindset that they are going to be the absolute minimum, and the person is not going to get what they really need. Therefore, it is very important to be very careful with whom you hire, and what their experience level is.

Circumstances can be such things as it is a simple DUI, meaning that there is no high blood alcohol level. There are aggravating factors, but the individual involved is a commercial airline pilot, or a professional driver. Well, that is how a first offense DUI could turn into a $15,000 DUI, while staying a misdemeanor. If that individual pleads no contest, or guilty, their career as a pilot or professional driver may be over. In their case, it might be appropriate to have a level of aggression regarding defenses, than would normally be the case in other DUI cases. In other words, the stakes are so high that a person has to fight no matter how long the odds, in order to protect their career.

When we are looking at facts, and circumstances of a DUI case as well as other factors, these are going to determine what kind of a legal fee is set. Your better lawyers are going to charge more to get better results. Another thing to look out for lawyers who quote a low fee, is when they begin filing leading pleadings that sound really good, like a motion to suppress evidence. This is a fancy way of saying throw the breath test out, and then the client uses the motion to suppress, the lawyer promptly blames the judge, and then suggests an appeal to the circuit court. Well, this results in an appeal fee. When that appeal is denied, the lawyer then recommends an appeal to the first district court of appeals. When that is lost, the lawyer recommends an appeal to the Supreme Court of Florida. The fee quoted was very low, but it keeps going up overtime.

Instead of doing something like that and filing garbage motions which do not have a chance of winning or do not have a realistic chance of winning, I think the better course of action is to be upfront, and truthful with people, just tell them “I don’t know” if a lawyer does not know. In circumstances where there is not a good motion to suppress that is likely to be granted, I do not think one should be filed unless there are compelling reasons to do so. In other words, quoting a low fee just to nickel and dime a client to death is inappropriate in my view, and unfortunately, legal consumers need to keep a look out for that, because that is something that has been going on for as long as I have been a practicing lawyer.

How Much Do Defense Lawyers Cost For A First Felony Offense?

Felonies are a serious level that you are looking at $5,000 and up for felony defense. A lawyer cannot even handle a felony case in Florida without complying with the special Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure. Back when I first started, there were no special rules regarding the handling of felony cases, and there were no special rules to even handle death penalty cases, which looking back, is shocking to me now. Back when I started practicing in criminal law, I was promoted very quickly in the public defender’s office. I began handling felony cases less than a year in practice, and I had my first felony jury trial approximately six months into my career.

This is entirely too fast, there is not enough training before such a thing happens, and when it comes to death penalty cases, there are special rules that I was allowed to handle death penalty cases under circumstances as a public defender that would never be allowed now. The reason I bring this up is because when I say $5,000 and up, someone will find a lawyer who will charge less than $5,000 to handle a felony. The problem is you have to ask yourself “Is that lawyer 100% criminal law”, “Is that lawyer certified as a specialist”.  “Is that lawyer working as part of a legal team, or are they working like the lone ranger against an arsenal filled out by a large number of people in the office of the state attorney with a virtually unlimited budget to prosecute you”.

When looking at legal fees, you need to ask yourself “Am I going to get my money’s worth?” In other words, do the lawyer and the legal team in question have the skill and experience to produce the kinds of results that you need, there are no guarantees with this, which makes it frustrating for consumers. It is like dealing with the doctor, and the doctor makes the diagnosis, the doctor cannot give a guarantee about a cure that is just how it is in law, and medicine. Therefore, it is critically important when it comes to finding a heart, or a brain surgeon that you get the best you can possibly afford, and do not nickel and dime something as serious as legal surgery when it comes to a felony case. If something goes wrong in a felony case, jail is just a stopping point on the way to state prison for many, many years. Felonies are not cases that you play around with, or try to handle on your own.

There is a reason that all through the process, people say, “You have the right to be represented by attorney”, and this is because the legal system is filled with legal landmines. The minefield of Florida Criminal Law does not exist in a world where all of the legal landmines are clearly marked with little flags and sirens to prevent you from stepping off them. It is just the opposite. The criminal justice system is set up to encourage people to accidentally step on those legal landmines which can blow their lives up entirely. When it comes to legal fees of a felony nature, expect to pay $5,000 as a minimum fee. There may be some costs related to the defense of the case, such as the services for subpoenas for witnesses, the taking of testimony out of court, and that is known as the deposition, or there might be no extra expenses depending upon the facts and circumstances of your case.

Legal fees should be covered very thoroughly and very carefully with your lawyer. There always should be a written agreement for representation.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

For more information on Cost Of Hiring A DUI Attorney, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 466-1522 today.

Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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