Legal Fees and Costs
Most criminal defense matters are handled for a flat fee paid in advance as a retainer. The flat fee, which is usually between $6,000.00 and $10,000.00 for District Court cases and $10,000.00 and up for Superior Court cases, covers all aspects of taking the case all the way through trial to verdict.
The only costs not included in the flat fee are those things that need to be done in the case that require money be paid out, such as hiring a private investigator and summonsing witnesses for trial. Those costs, which will be discussed with and authorized by the client before they are incurred, must be paid by the client either directly or by reimbursing me.
Because most criminal cases end in plea bargains before trial, a portion of the flat fee, usually 2/3rds, will be refunded to the client if the case is settled by a plea bargain or dismissal at least 30 days before any scheduled trial date.
Divorce, Paternity, Custody, Contempt, Modification, and most Civil Litigation.
These cases are handled on an hourly basis plus out of pocket costs. My current hourly rate is $300.00. An advance payment, or retainer, typically in the amount of $2,000.00, is required. The amount of the retainer can vary based upon the circumstances of each case.
Each month I send a statement to each client setting out what has been done in the case, the time it took, the dollar cost of that time and the amount left of the retainer. If the case is resolved before the retainer is used up, the remaining balance is returned to the client. If the retainer is gone and the case is ongoing, the client must pay the stated balance due or make arrangements for a further retainer payment. Unpaid balances are charged interest at the rate of 12% per year after 30 days. Balances left unpaid for any significant period of time will result in me withdrawing from the case allowed by the court under the applicable laws and court rules. There is never any charge for time spent discussing billing matters. It is important that all my clients completely understand the fees and costs related to their cases.
A copy of a typical hourly agreement, the contract between my client and me for legal services, follows below.
Personal Injury and some Civil Litigation (Collection)
Personal injury cases, such as those were my client is suing the driver of the other car for causing an accident, and some collection cases, such as suing someone for non-payment of a legitimate bill for goods sold or services rendered, are often handled on a contingent fee basis. A contingent fee is a percentage, typically 33.3%, of whatever amount of money may come from the settlement or trial of the case plus out of pocket costs paid by me or my firm.
Contingent fees are prohibited by court rule in criminal, divorce and other family law cases.
HOURLY FEE AGREEMENT
I, ___________________, the "Client," hereby agree to retain Peter C. Alessio, the "Attorney" in connection with the following matter or matters:
Representation and legal advice in connection with __________________.
CLIENT UNDERSTANDS AND ACKNOWLEDGES THAT NO LEGAL REPRESENTATION, APPEARANCE, OR PREPARATION WILL BEGIN IN THIS MATTER UNTIL PAYMENT ON ACCOUNT AS SET FORTH IN PARAGRAPH ONE IS PAID IN FULL.
We, the Client and the Attorney, have read this Fee Agreement and agree to its terms and have
signed it as our free act and deed on _____________________.
Peter C. Alessio, Esq.
The Client acknowledges receipt of a copy of this agreement.
Client _____________________ Date: ___________________
THIS IS A LEGALLY BINDING CONTRACT. ASK TO HAVE EACH TERM YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND FULLY EXPLAINED TO YOU SO THAT YOU UNDERSTAND THE AGREEMENT YOU ARE MAKING.