What is the Actual Cost Involved in the Indigent Defense of a Capital Case?


The constitutional right to counsel for those who cannot afford their own lawyer means that the government foots the bill for the defendant’s legal counsel. This is true for a great many criminal cases (and the expansion of the right to counsel continues with the United States Supreme Court), but it is especially important when the state is seeking the death penalty in a criminal matter.

There are many articles written that provide detail on the practicalities of representing the indigent defendant in a capital case. Perhaps lawyers assume that other lawyers know what’s being talked about – but that presupposes that others (including every taxpayer in this country) are not interested in the details.

Actual costs involve not only legal fees and the expenses directly attached to the lead attorney’s efforts, as well as the additional legal counsel that must be involved in a capital case, but the expenses involved in a wide variety of other vital and necessary areas. These include expert costs, transcription fees, travel expenses, and other needs that rapidly contribute to the high cost of these death penalty cases.

Perhaps when more people understand how big the battlefield is, and how much work is involved in each of these cases, then the availability of funds to address the current financial crisis will be more easily found.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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