If you are charged with a criminal offence in the Toronto area you should definitely seek out the services of an experienced criminal lawyer. A skilled criminal lawyer can help you navigate through the complexities of the legal process and ensure that you mount an effective defence against the charges. While hiring a criminal lawyer does not guarantee that you will beat the charges, it significantly boosts your chances and will likely help secure the most favorable outcome possible.
When faced with the prospect of hiring a criminal lawyer , many people initially balk due to concerns about cost. This is perfectly understandable given that the cost of professional legal services in general are high. But if examined on a cost/benefit basis, paying for the services of a criminal lawyer are almost always worth the preservation of one’s freedom and/or otherwise limiting the severity of potential penalties.
So, how much does it cost to hire a criminal lawyer in the Greater Toronto Area?
There is no simple answer to this question because costs are dependent upon numerous factors ranging from the lawyer’s experience to the complexity of the criminal case. Naturally, a Toronto-area criminal lawyer with years of experience and a solid record for securing acquittals at trial can charge more than a lawyer with limited experience and a small historic caseload. Likewise, criminal defense of complex murder charges will cost far more than defending a simple criminal assault case.
Hourly rates were long the standard in criminal defence billing because it ensured that all costs would be covered no matter how much the scope of defence needed might grow. Basic economics and demand help establish baseline rates, with experience and reputation adding a premium.
The Law Society of Ontario, which acts as the governing body for the profession, lists a proposed schedule of fees based on seniority and experience. The hourly rates range from $165 for lawyers with less than one year of experience to $350 for those with more than 20 years of experience.
However, the schedule is not mandated and many Ontario lawyers do not follow it. In fact, the general consensus seems to be that hourly rates for a defence lawyer in Toronto range from $75 to $750. It’s safe to assume that the lower end of the range primarily represents hourly fees from new or otherwise inexperienced criminal lawyers who are likely practicing solo.
The higher end of the range represents hourly billing by the most experienced and successful criminal lawyers in the city’s most prestigious law firms. These are the criminal defence lawyers that make the news through their defence of rich and/or famous clients in high profile cases. This would include the nationally known and celebrated criminal lawyer who successfully secured an acquittal of former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi’s sexual assault charges.
More and more criminal lawyers in Toronto are turning to block fee rate structures that account for the overall management of the case with a single price. Such structures can include additional block fees that can be brought into play if needed to address unanticipated case management issues. This could include anything from additional trial dates to hiring an expert witness.
Block fee billing is advantageous to clients because it offers more clarity about the costs of their defence than does the hourly fee structure. It also helps motivate defence lawyers to work on securing a positive resolution of the case quickly, an outcome that is also certainly in the interests of the client.
In developing the block fee structure for each specific case, defence lawyers need to assess numerous factors and questions that will determine the time and work needed to bring the case to a successful resolution. These factors and questions include, but are not limited to:
- Complexity of the case.
- Likelihood of getting the charges dropped before trial.
- Likelihood of negotiating a plea deal acceptable to client and Crown.
- Potential need for judicial pre-trial work.
- Does the case warrant a preliminary hearing?
- Is the case proceeding by indictment or summary conviction?
- Will the trial be held before a judge or by jury?
- Number of trial days and/or other interactions with the court.
- Amount and types of evidence held by the Crown.
- Need for further investigation and evidence gathering on behalf of client.
- Number of Crown witnesses and their potential impact on case.
- Number of defence witnesses and their potential impact on case.
- Is there any need for expert witnesses?
- Consideration of Charter Rights violations.
While we cannot tell you specifically how much it costs to hire a criminal lawyer in the Greater Toronto Area, we can offer you the average cost to hire a lawyer for a one-day criminal trial. According to Canadian Lawyer’s 2020 Legal Fees Survey , the average amount of fees charged to defend a client in a one-day criminal offence trial in Ontario came out to $6,111. This is 15 percent higher than the national average of $5,291, but the province tends to lead the nation in most costs, whether for goods or services.
In considering how much it costs to hire a criminal lawyer in the GTA, know that you will likely have to provide a retainer. That is, most lawyers and law firms require an up-front deposit before they will begin working on your case. With block fee billing the retainer typically covers a percentage of the total block fee, while it covers a set number of billable hours in hourly fee structures. Keep in mind that most retainers are non-refundable, even if the criminal charges are quickly dropped with limited effort by the lawyer.
If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges in the Toronto area, consult with the highly skilled and experienced lawyers at Mass Tsang. We will detail how we can defend you against the charges in a free initial consultation and offer a block rate fee structure with no hidden costs. We can work out a flexible payment plan that works for your financial situation and can help you secure financing to pay for your defence.
Our team of criminal lawyers has extensive experience in the field of criminal defence and a stellar record of securing favorable outcomes for our clients. For your free consultation the expert lawyers at Mass Tsang today.