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Hiring A New York Criminal Lawyer: What Are Your Options & What Does It Cost?

UPDATED: March 5, 2020

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If you or someone you know has been arrested in a criminal matter, it's important to know what types of representation are available to you and how much that representation might cost. Here's a quick summary from a New York criminal law legal expert:

New York Criminal Attorney Elliot Schlissel

Elliot Schlissel, a New York criminal law lawyer whose firm represents individuals charged with criminal matters in Long Island and the greater New York metropolitan area, explained what types of representation are available to individuals who have been arrested on a drug crime:

Criminal law attorney representation. There are basically two types of representation that individuals have, according to Schlissel – one is Legal Aid or 18B, which are court-appointed attorneys; the other is private counsel. He explained how these types of representation differ:

Legal Aid. Legal Aid and court-appointed attorneys are very often working very hard and diligently to try to help represent their clients. Unfortunately, they’re very often overwhelmed with many cases and limited resources. They can’t give their clients the level of personal attention that they would have received from private counsel.

Private counsel. Private counsel, or private attorneys, such as those in our office, are very knowledgeable about alternatives to jail time. We work with organizations specifically designed to assist individuals avoid going to jail. Some organizations have social workers that work with the individuals charged with crimes and we bring these social workers to court, to make presentations to the judge as to what is involved in the programs.

Advocating for alternatives to jail

Schlissel says that attorneys in his practice advocate alternatives to jail sentences, but that the sincerity of the individual's efforts to rid themselves of a drug problem and turn their lives around is an important aspect of having that alternative become a reality. He explained:

By working with the judges, the probation department and these outside placement agencies, we’re often able to convince the court that our client and society are better off leaving this individual in a treatment regiment instead of sending him or her to prison.

Unfortunately, jail often educates people to become better criminals. We've had tremendous success convincing judges that our clients deserve a second chance and they should not be incarcerated, but should be allowed to continue in treatment programs to deal with their drug addiction.

How are New York criminal law attorneys compensated?

What New York criminal lawyers charge for representation depends on which county the case is in, the complexity of the case, whether the individual is a minor or an adult – as well as whether it’s a violent crime, drug crime or the individual has a prior history of criminal convictions, according to Schlissel. He explained how his firm handles criminal matters:

We evaluate the situation. To do the evaluation, we offer all individuals charged with crimes a free consultation by our office. During that meeting, we go through the elements of the crime, the circumstances involved in the crime, the possible defenses to the crime and the possible sentences one could receive if they are convicted of the crime. We discuss the manner in which we would handle the case. We give our clients an analysis of the entire situation and we advise them of their prospect.

If they seek to hire us, we give all clients a written retainer agreement indicating our responsibility to represent them zealously, outline what the costs will be and if there’s a payment program, how that would work. We normally charge a set fee to handle the case up until trial or grand jury, although there may be additional fees for grand jury proceedings, trials and appeals.

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