If you’re wondering “How much do criminal defense attorneys REALLY make?” there’s no simple answer. Hourly rates for representing someone who’s been charged with a crime vary quite a bit. Factors that affect attorney salary are law firm size, location and the criminal defense attorney’s experience. As a result, criminal defense attorneys charge from $100 to $1,000 per hour.

The Answer Is…It Depends

While this is a common question, the answer is not always simple. Criminal defense attorney fees are based on several factors. These include experience, size of the law firm where they practice, and the state in which they practice.

An attorney is likely to make more at a large firm than a small one. Attorneys who practice law in big cities typically make more than those who live in rural areas.

Attorney salaries can vary widely from state to state as well. For example, criminal defense attorneys in New York usually make more than those in Virginia. This is due to the cost of living. The number of hours lawyers are required to work in their respective state can play a role too.


Salary Ranges for Criminal Defense Attorneys

A general rule of thumb is that the majority of criminal defense attorneys make a salary of between $40,000 and $200,000. Of course new criminal defense attorneys’ starting salaries are at the low end of the range while attorneys with more experience can expect to earn salaries at the high end. A criminal defense attorney can also earn bonuses and other forms of pay.


How to Become a Criminal Defense Attorney

The road to becoming a criminal defense attorney consists of multiple steps. The first step is to get a bachelor’s degree. The next step is to obtain a law degree from an accredited law program. You need to pass the bar exam in the state where you intend to practice. The final step is to get a job with an existing firm or start your own law practice.

Your law school career placement office may have job leads. It’s also important to network with other attorneys and search for jobs online. Last but not least, focus on developing your reputation as a reputable criminal defense attorney. You can achieve this by winning any cases you take on.


Pros and Cons of Being a Criminal Defense Attorney

There are advantages and disadvantages of being a criminal defense attorney. On the plus side, you get to represent people who have been wrongly accused or are facing an unfair punishment. On the flip side, the work can be very demanding and you might not actually believe you are having an impact.

Some attorneys get attached to their clients and lose sight of the big picture. While criminal defense attorneys tend to see the worst of people, they also have the rewarding experience of their clients’ acquittals. As a career choice criminal law is both challenging and rewarding.


Final Words

For those interested in criminal law, “How Much Do Criminal Defense Attorneys Make?” is a common question. The bottom line is that criminal defense attorneys earn a good salary. While the work is rather challenging, many criminal attorneys make a comfortable living. One needs to be emotionally resilient to succeed in this profession. In order to represent their clients effectively, criminal defense attorneys need to improvise and make quick decisions. Most of all, attorneys need to form positive connections with their clients to foster trust.