When retaining a lawyer most people are concerned and often confused about the fees quoted by lawyers for their case. I will explain some of the basics to help you understand.
In criminal cases most defense lawyers charge a flat earned fee, usually payable at the beginning of the case. This is done because lawyers cannot charge contingent fees in criminal cases, nor is it practical to charge hourly fees paid periodically. In some cases lawyers will require a trust account deposit and then bill hourly against that deposit. This is usually done when it is not clear whether the client will be prosecuted or not.
The flat fee is calculated to pay the lawyer his hourly fee plus incidental costs associated with the representation. Experienced lawyers can accurately estimate the time commitment in criminal cases. Sometimes lawyers will quote a fee for the resolution of the case by plea agreement and then an additional fee if the case goes to trial. When a case is on a trial track it does not mean that the lawyer is being paid only for the days of trial. Trial preparation begins many months before trial, to include witness interviews, motion practice, legal research on trial evidentiary issues and actual preparation for the trial itself. If a lawyer does not do this he/she will not be properly prepared to try your case.
Fees are one area of life where the low-ball fee is not the best deal. Experienced lawyers usually charge more and they are worth it. The client benefits from a lifetime of experience in the trial courts. This provides a much better foundation for the advice the lawyer gives and his/her services in court. After all that is why you want to retain a lawyer, isn't it?