Criminal Lawyers Fees Singapore [The Ultimate Guide]

by | Oct 26, 2023

Criminal lawyer fees in Singapore are decided by the complexity of your charges as well as your background, such as whether you have committed previous criminal offences or not.

How Much Do Criminal Lawyer Fees Cost In Singapore?

The Cost Of A First Meeting

It’s typical to invest a considerable amount of resources for your initial interaction with a seasoned criminal defence lawyer or visiting judge. In specific circumstances, especially when there’s a need for specialised expertise, your legal resources might have to be substantially committed, even if the case involves relatively minor criminal charges.

Nevertheless, our lawyers at The Singapore Lawyer understand that every person and case is important regardless of your financial standing and resources, and we’ll always do our best to help by giving free consultations and discounted or subsidised rates to help whenever there’s a deserving cause.

Getting The Full Cost For A Whole Criminal Case

In most cases, the criminal lawyer will provide you with a rough idea about how much your legal fees are expected to be.

Should I Hire A Criminal Lawyer Who Offers An Hourly Fee Or One With A Fixed Rate If I’m Pleading Guilty?

This is one of the most common questions asked by first-time offenders. But criminal lawyers fees in Singapore could be substantially different if you are pleading guilty than if you are claiming trial for your criminal charges.

If You Are Not Limited By Your Budget

If you have enough money, you should turn down a lawyer’s offer of fixed or capped fees. Instead, they should charge you by the hour. This will cost more than if it is fixed or capped, but it will make sure that they do what you want them to do when you need them to do it.

A criminal lawyer may ask defendants who plead guilty to his services to pay them an hourly rate, which will depend on factors like court fees and other expenses involved in defending you (if any), such as travel cost, etc., but this can be quite costly – especially for those with no income. This is because criminal lawyers charge by the hour, and you could be paying them for every minute they are working on your criminal case.

If You Are On A Tight Budget

If you are not in a position to pay criminal lawyers fees, fixed criminal lawyers fees should be much better. If they give you an indicative criminal lawyer fee based on what they think your case will cost, and it’s over the top, ask them if the criminal lawyer fees can be negotiated.

Be sure to ask for the criminal lawyer’s rates upfront before choosing who to hire. This is because criminal defence attorneys’ charges and fee structures could widely vary depending on their level of expertise and experience defending those accused of criminal offences or handling criminal cases all-inclusive of legal representation from investigations up until trial as well as how complex the charges are against you. Be careful with hiring inexperienced criminal lawyers whose hourly rate may be extremely high since there is no criminal lawyer’s contract to ensure that they will work with you on your criminal case.

When Do Criminal Lawyers Expect To Be Paid?

Most criminal lawyers generally make no exceptions for payment and expect prompt payment of their criminal lawyer fees. However, our lawyers at The Singapore Lawyer understand that clients may often be facing financial and cash-flow constraints and will work out a feasible instalment payment plan to help. 

Representation Before Payment And Back Pay

If you are not able to pay criminal lawyer fees because you do not have a job or your earning is too low, criminal lawyers will be willing to represent you despite that – but they expect back pay from the date of representation. Criminal lawyers typically charge their criminal clients on an hourly basis even if the work done is minimal. If you cannot afford criminal lawyer fees, your only option may be to get a court form called a Legal Aid Certificate (LAC). The legal aid scheme covers select criminal charges and kinds of civil cases. Please refer here for more information.

Non-payment by criminal defendants has resulted in many law offices refusing to accept criminal cases.

Monthly Retainer Basis

Invoices are usually issued on a monthly basis, where criminal lawyers will issue criminal charge receipts as well as an invoice detailing their work and the amount charged for it. After you have paid your lawyer’s invoice, they will then proceed with working on matters such as: getting criminal records removed from court ready folders; appearing in courts to argue on your behalf; contesting negative criminal reports by CPIB or others; and filing criminal appeals against penalties imposed by lower courts.

Offer To Accept Some Payment First

If you are unable to pay your criminal lawyer fees when due, criminal lawyers may offer to accept 60% of the agreed-upon fee until your matter has been resolved. In some cases, if you have additional criminal charges, criminal lawyers will not want to take up your criminal cases because they feel that it is too difficult for them to represent you which could result in criminal lawyer fees.

Singapore Government Legal Aid Scheme

The Singapore Government Legal Aid Scheme (LAS) provides criminal legal aid for criminal offences of 6 months imprisonment and below with a monthly income ceiling of $2,500 (or $1,750 per person). Please refer here to find out the eligibility criteria.

What If You Cannot Afford To Hire A Criminal Lawyer?

Pro Bono Criminal Defence

If criminal lawyers fees are too expensive for you to bear, criminal lawyers may be able to offer you a ‘pro bono criminal defence’, which means criminal lawyers will represent but not charge you for criminal lawyer services. The availability of criminal legal aid by court order is another option. However, the public prosecutor (if he agrees that it is necessary) can seek an order from the court directing that a criminal defendant receive paid representation during his trial if satisfied that he cannot afford one and has no relatives who can provide him with some financial assistance.

Giving free criminal assistance or pro bono legal service in Singapore is regulated by section 2(1) of the Legal Profession (Pro Bono Services) Act 2007 (“the Pro Bono Act [Act 4 of 2007]”) and criminal defence under the Legal Profession Act [Chapter 81]. Under this Act, criminal lawyers are required to do criminal legal aid as part of their professional duties and criminal legal aid is not limited to those who can prove financial need. The Pro Bono Act allows criminal lawyers to claim their fees for criminal legal aid cases from the State (Ministry of Law) at a later date. This means that criminal lawyers have not had any increase in criminal lawyer fees since 2007 when they were first allowed to charge the State for pro bono criminal defence services granted by them.

The Implications Of Working With A Pro-bono Criminal Defence Lawyer

If you apply to get a certificate from your criminal lawyer indicating he will represent you without charges, make sure you understand all implications of having pro bono criminal defence. For example, criminal lawyers can only give criminal legal aid in criminal cases that are of public interest and not just any criminal case where you cannot afford criminal lawyer fees or if you feel your criminal charges might be reduced as a result of having pro bono criminal defence.

What If You Want To Claim Trial For Your Criminal Charges?

What Fees May Be Included When Hiring A Criminal Lawyer

Your criminal lawyer fees can include: attending court hearings; preparation of written representation and submissions on matters such as sentence mitigation or a criminal charge reduction; conducting investigations to find witnesses (these criminal lawyers may hire private detectives); applying for Criminal Legal Aid if you have not already got one, and preparing for an appeal in the High Court against any convictions made by the lower courts.

If You Plead Guilty To Your Case

In cases where a person pleads guilty, he is usually charged based on the offence under Section 327 of Penal Code (“Charges based on facts admitted”) which means that there is no need for prosecutors to prove up your criminal case in criminal court for a criminal charge to be made.

What You Get (And Don’t Get) For A Fixed Fee If You Plead Guilty

What You’ll Get For Fixed Fees

The main reason why criminal lawyers charge fixed fees for some criminal cases is that a person may want to plead guilty at the earliest possible stage of the proceedings and be sentenced quickly with the least fuss or criminal lawyer fees involved.

Plea bargaining (which is usually frowned upon by criminal lawyers) has been made easier by having fixed criminal lawyer fees which allows you to get a criminal sentence decided based on an agreed criminal legal aid amount payable up front. A plea bargain can also involve payment of fines which criminal lawyers can also negotiate with prosecutors for you on a fixed criminal lawyer fees basis.

Fixed Fees Charged By Lawyers Experienced With Criminal Law

Typical criminal legal aid services provided by criminal lawyers often involve discrete transactions; spending full days or handling complete cases if you plan to plead guilty in court; and dedicating half-day increments to attend to your criminal defence matters, including the preparation of submissions or pleadings before the courts. All of these services require a significant commitment of resources.

You may contact our defence lawyers for more information. We will assess the specifics of your case and come up with a fee that’s fair and reasonable for everyone.

If You Were To Plead Not Guilty

In cases where the client goes into a criminal court and pleads not guilty, criminal lawyer fees will be based on the actual time involved from the point your criminal lawyer takes up your case as well as other factors like how many hearings he has to attend in court before your case is heard in its entirety. Do note that even though criminal lawyers fees for criminal cases are competitive, criminal legal aid only takes into account the prevailing criminal lawyer fees in the market and not your personal wealth or income.

Conclusion About Criminal Lawyer Fees In Singapore

Whether it’s for a case where you are pleading guilty, or you simply require a free consultation about your case, understanding the fees for your case might be a complex topic. If you are looking for a criminal lawyer in Singapore, we highly recommend you speak to us for a free consultation here.

About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.