How Much Does a Criminal Lawyer Make an Hour?


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Criminal law practice is a vocation that pays well. A criminal lawyer can earn an excellent income. However, the amount of money earned depends mainly on the city and state in which one practices. For example, in some places, lawyers can make as much as $150 per hour for top-tier attorneys with long track records and years of experience. 

On the other end of the spectrum are states like New York, where top-tier attorneys who practice criminal law in big cities can earn upwards of $200 per hour. The salary for a general criminal lawyer also varies based on their experience level, geographic location and firm size. 

With so many factors determining how much a lawyer earns per hour, one must learn how one’s salary can vary from place to place. Keep reading to learn more about how much you could make as a criminal lawyer.

What is a Criminal Lawyer?

How Much Does a Criminal Lawyer Make an Hour

A criminal lawyer is a lawyer who practices criminal law. Criminal law includes various topics, including federal and state criminal law, criminal procedure, criminal evidence and criminal appeals. While some lawyers focus on a single aspect of criminal law, most lawyers handle criminal defense and civil law. 

A criminal attorney may specialize in either defense or prosecution. The cases criminal lawyers handle also differ depending on an attorney’s specialty. Some attorneys may focus on defending drug or white-collar crime cases. Other lawyers may specialize in representing government prosecuted cases.

Types of Criminal Lawyer

Private Practice Criminal Lawyer: 

An attorney in private practice may represent criminal defendants and plaintiffs in civil cases. This type of criminal law practice is common among firms representing various clients, including private and public sectors. In private practice, a personal criminal lawyer may represent both plaintiffs and defendants, including corporations, individuals and government entities. 

Public Defender: 

A public defender is a lawyer who defends those accused of criminal acts who cannot afford to pay their legal representation. The main difference between a private criminal law firm and a public defender is that personal criminal lawyers often have a set number of clients. In contrast, public defenders represent anyone accused of a crime. 

Federal Criminal Attorney: 

Federal criminal law is the legal code that governs federal crimes, such as drug trafficking, money laundering and terrorism. These lawyers may work for law enforcement agencies, the Department of Justice or the Department of Defense. Some lawyers choose this career path because of its potential for high pay. 

State Criminal Lawyer: 

In a state or local jurisdiction, a state criminal lawyer represents clients in criminal cases, such as murder and assault. State criminal lawyers may work for a single state or a federal district.

How Much Does a Criminal Lawyer Make an Hour?

How Much Does a Criminal Lawyer Make an Hour

Hourly Wage of a Criminal Lawyer

Private criminal law firms generally average $200,000 per year in revenue. State public defenders typically earn $1,000 per week. Federal criminal lawyers generally make $300 per week, and private criminal lawyers earn $2,000 to $2,500 per week. Federal criminal law firms may have revenue levels of $10 million per year.

Weekly Pay of a Criminal Lawyer

You can earn $9,000 monthly or more if you are in private practice and $40,000 per year in a public defender’s office. You can make $2,000 monthly or more as a federal criminal lawyer. And, you can make $3,000 per month or more as a state criminal lawyer.

Monthly Pay of a Criminal Lawyer

Although many factors determine how much a lawyer earns per hour, the most significant is the type of practice a lawyer conducts. In private criminal law firms, an attorney can earn up to $300 per hour depending on the cases the attorney handles and the law firm’s quality. 

In some public defender offices, the salary ranges from $34,000 to $102,600 per year, depending on the location and size of the office. Public defenders handle only criminal cases and have no other responsibilities, such as handling civil cases. 

Due to their specialized focus, public defenders in some areas can earn as much as $200 per hour. An attorney may earn $50,000 yearly in a small criminal law firm. However, a lawyer with 10+ years of experience can make more than $200,000 per year in a large firm. An attorney can earn $300 per hour with a private practice law firm. A partner at a large law firm can reach up to $2 million per year.

Qualification of a Criminal Lawyer

If you are in private practice, you can earn as much as $200 per hour. You can earn $150 per hour if you partner at a large law firm. Public defenders generally earn $35 per hour. Federal criminal lawyers can make $150 per hour, and private criminal lawyers can make $100 to $150 per hour.

Pros of Becoming a Criminal Lawyer

High Income Low-Stress Level
High Potential for GrowthHigh Taxes
High Job SecurityHigh Cost of Living
High Total Daily HoursLow Number of Job Openings
Low-Stress LevelIncreased Number of Working Hours
Good WorkIntense Competition
Life Balance 

Final Word

This article is about the average hourly rate of a criminal lawyer. For a detailed report on the practice of law, see Lawyer.”

It can be challenging to determine what hourly rate a lawyer will charge for their services because that depends on several factors unique to each case. Some of these include the type of case and the time spent on the subject. Criminal lawyers typically charge clients between $300 to $2,000 per hour, but that can vary significantly depending upon the individual. 

A lawyer’s credentials are just as necessary as their legal experience and skill. A good criminal lawyer will allow the candidate to speak the perfect legal jargon without understanding what they are talking about. The best way to find out what hourly rate a lawyer will charge is by asking them directly.


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