San Fernando Valley Criminal & DUI Defense Lawyers

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How Much Should it really cost to hire a Criminal Defense Attorney

I got an unsolicited email this weekend. A potential client was asking how much I would charge to represent them in a drug possession for sale case. God bless this potential client who said she was trying not to take too much of my time, but wanted to get an idea of what it would cost to hire me. I emailed back that I had some questions: Where is the case, some background information on the client, criminal history, some specific facts about the case, etc. The client indicated she had been quoted about $5,000 from two different lawyers. She seemed to think that this was too much money.

After getting all of my questions answered, I emailed back that I didn’t think $5,000 was out of line, but suggested I would take the case for $3,500. It was a Van Nuys case, with no significant criminal history. There were no aggravating factors like guns or gangs and no actual sale of drugs here.

Van Nuys is the closest court to my office. It’s the court where I do more work than any other single courthouse in Los Angeles or Ventura County. And, while I wouldn’t be happy to take that case for $3,500, I would take it for that fee under these circumstances.

$3,500 is about the least amount of money I would take to get on any felony, anywhere in California. The fees generally go up from there. There are certain things that often affect the prices I quote. Whether or not the client has any significant criminal history is one of those factors. If someone has been to prison or is on felony probation, the fee is usually higher. If the case is in an outer lying jurisdiction like Pomona or Norwalk, I would almost always charge more money than I would if the case were in Van Nuys or San Fernando. Simply put, the farther away the case is from my office, the longer it takes to get there and back and the more money I have to charge my client.

Another thing that affects the cost to hire me is actually the facts of the case. In drug cases, the quantity of narcotics is a large factor; the more drugs, the greater the potential exposure for the client. If there is a gun involved, that makes the case a lot more serious and the fees would likely be higher. If there is a gang allegation, the fee would likely be higher. If there was more than one person arrested and charged, this also complicates the case and would likely affect the cost.

In the case of other types of offenses, there are also factors which affect the fees. In battery cases, the extent of the injuries to the other side usually will play a role in setting the fees. In theft cases, the amount of the loss will usually affect both the charges filed and the cost to hire me.

A few things are always consistent with me when it comes to my fees: First, I always want to find out as much as I can about you and your case BEFORE I quote you a fee; Next, I always want my potential client to meet me in person before I quote a fee; and Third, I always try to find out where my client came from before I quote a fee. If a client is referred, as most of mine are, I really want to take that into account before I quote the fee to the client.

If you or someone close to you are looking for a criminal or DUI defense attorney and you have questions about how much it costs, call me:

Attorney Jeffrey Vallens (818) 783-6473 or (888) 764-4340 or

Email me at: or visit my sites for more information: or