How much does a criminal lawyer cost?

The Most Asked Question: Cost

The cost of Criminal Law matters is frequently inquired about. The Australian Criminal Courts have noted that the average cost for a matter at a final hearing is $20,000 per person. However, with the right criminal lawyer, resolving Criminal Law matters can be both cost-effective and beneficial for all parties involved.

Services Offered by Criminal Lawyers

Criminal lawyers offer a variety of services to cater to your legal needs. Below is a breakdown of the services offered by criminal lawyers along with an approximate cost range.


Service Approximate Cost Range
Bail Applications $2,000 – $5,000
Assault Charges $5,000 – $12,000
Drug Offences $4,000 – $20,000
Theft and Fraud Cases starting from $3,000
Domestic Violence Cases $2,000 – $8,000
Murder and Manslaughter Cases $10,000 – $50,000
Appeals $5,000 – $15,000
Sexual Offences $5,000 – $50,000
White Collar Crimes $5,000 – $25,000

This table provides a general overview of the services and the corresponding costs, giving you an idea of the potential expenses involved.

Understanding Party and Party Costs

Party and party costs refer to the costs payable by one party to another under the Criminal Law Rules or by court order. These costs usually include the professional time of a lawyer, work done in a lawyer’s office, and associated costs like process server fees. The costs are calculated based on the Scale of Costs in the relevant rules unless the Court orders otherwise.

Assistance for Those Unable to Afford Legal Fees

If you find yourself unable to afford the costs associated with hiring a criminal lawyer, there are legal aid options available. Legal aid is financial assistance that the government provides to cover the legal fees for those who cannot afford it. A lawyer can help you understand whether you qualify for legal aid and assist you in the application process. This ensures that everyone has access to legal representation, regardless of their financial situation.

Disputing an Itemised Account for Party and Party Costs

A person entitled to costs must serve an itemised account and a Costs Notice on the liable party. Disputing an itemised costs account involves several steps:

  1. Serve a Notice Disputing Itemised Costs Account on the lawyer.
  2. Contact the party seeking payment to discuss resolution options.
  3. If unresolved, either party can ask the Court to rule on the dispute.
  4. The Court fixes a date for a settlement conference, preliminary assessment, or assessment hearing.
  5. Both parties must attend the Settlement Conference or be represented by a lawyer.
  6. The Preliminary Assessment is conducted without the parties’ attendance.
  7. Both parties must attend the Assessment Hearing or be represented by a criminal lawyer.

More information and relevant time limits are outlined in the Costs Notice.

Legal Advice

If you have any legal questions about costs, it’s advised to get legal advice from a legal aid office, community legal centre, or a private law firm. Court staff can assist with questions about court forms and the Court process but cannot provide legal advice. For more information, see Legal Help.

Factors Determining Criminal Lawyer Fees

Several factors influence Criminal Lawyer fees, such as the complexity of the case, the expertise of the lawyer, firm location, and billing methods. These aspects are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Complexity of Case

Criminal law matters can range in cost from $10,000 for minor offences to over $50,000 for serious charges. Complex cases, involving multiple charges or extensive evidence, can exceed $100,000 per person.

Expertise and Experience of Lawyers

Experienced lawyers may charge between $2,500 to $5,000 per day in court, whereas junior lawyers charge less. A solicitor specialising in criminal law deals with criminal law matters more regularly than a generalist. For more information on the cost differences between experienced and junior lawyers, refer to this article.

Billing Methods

Criminal Lawyers may require a retainer ranging from $2,000 to $10,000. Hourly rates can range from $150 to $400. Unused fees from the retainer may be refunded. Fixed fees can also be charged for specific services.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Criminal Lawyer

  • What is your hourly rate and potential rates of other individuals who may work on my matter?
  • Do you charge additionally for travel time, phone calls, meetings, and emails?
  • Can you estimate your initial fees and what do those fees cover?
  • Are there any additional expenses that I can expect? If so, what are they?
  • Are you able to offer a fixed fee agreement for any aspects of my case?
  • What are my billing and payment options?

Maintaining Control of Costs

To minimise costs, be organised, review bills regularly, ask for clarification, consider alternative pathways such as plea bargains, and explore eligibility for fee waivers and payment plans.


Legal fees depend on the unique circumstances of each Criminal law matter. Choosing a good criminal lawyer will help achieve the best result for you, providing value that makes the monetary investment worthwhile.

Understanding the Legal Jargon

Criminal law includes terms like time-costing and fixed fees. Time-costing involves billing based on time spent, while fixed fees charge a set amount for specific services.

Need Assistance?

Choosing a criminal lawyer can be an overwhelming task. However, being equipped with knowledge about the costs and services will help you make an informed decision. If you are unable to afford legal fees, there are options available to you, such as legal aid, which can ensure you have access to legal representation.

Every case is unique, and while this guide provides an overview of what to expect, consulting a lawyer for personalized advice is always the best step forward. With the right representation, you can navigate the complexities of your case effectively and confidently.

Contact Us

If you need assistance with Criminal Law matters or would like more information, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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