“Every Concealed Carrier Needs A Good Lawyer” — Fact Or Fiction?

We’ve covered plenty of cases of self-defense on Concealed Nation.  Everything ranging from home security to Good Samaritan comes up on our page from time-to-time.  One of the things we rarely cover, however, is the aftermath.

Not every story ends with a concealed carrier getting a pat on the back.  In almost every self-defense shooting, there will be a police investigation.  Afterwards, the case will be forwarded to (usually) the county prosecutor who will make a determination if the concealed carrier applied deadly force correctly according to state law.

The county prosecutor will most likely examine the following:

  • Was the concealed carrier within bounds of justifiable use of deadly force?
  • What circumstances surrounded the use of deadly force?
  • What did ballistics and forensics reveal about the case versus how it was reported?
  • What was the coroner’s report for any applicable autopsies conducted?

If those prior four questions include reasonable proof that the concealed carrier violated state law, the prosecutor may make the call to have that concealed carrier charged for those suspected crimes.  In this event, the concealed carrier will be detained.  A bond hearing will be set and a court date.

It is the concealed carrier’s job to ensure he has a criminal defense attorney in place for these sorts of events.  Note we said criminal defense attorney — not Saul Goodman.

And when that attorney shows up, unless he’s a public defender, he’s going to lay out a few things right up front.  The big one will be price.  And here’s what you need to know about that part:


A retainer is an amount of money that an attorney (or team of attorneys) requires the defendant to pay upfront.  This upfront cost goes into a deductible for the amount of time the attorney estimates it will take for him to get situated in the case.  Time can be billed towards case law research for a criminal defense or in allocating expert witnesses to pry apart the prosecutor’s case.  Ultimately, the price of this retainer will reflect two things:

  • An estimate of an amount of time.
  • The complexity of the case.

While no defense attorney worth his weight will ever come right out and say that he thinks you’re doomed, generally the higher the upfront retainer is — the more likely that defense attorney believes he has a long road to getting your charges dismissed or reduced.  If the charges can’t be dismissed and the case actually goes to court (with a jury), the retainer will become a “drop in the bucket” towards your actual legal expenses.

Caution: Attorneys promising a low upfront retainer are not necessarily in it for your benefit or because they “believe in your case”.  There are a lot of factors behind a low retaining fee — and one of them is the track record of that attorney in court.

After the retaining fee is paid, the attorney will bill your case (most likely) one of two ways:

Hourly Billing

This is where an attorney sets a price for his time.  It’s not uncommon to run into an attorney with a billable rate of $700 or more an hour.  The mid-range price to be expected can be somewhere around $300 to $1700 an hour depending on experience with your particular style of self-defense case and the level of priority your case needs.

For instance, if an attorney is managing two separate cases — each with the same degree of complexity — and one client is charged $100/hour and another is charged $450/hour, which do you think that attorney will dedicate more man-hours towards?

Now, that doesn’t mean the attorney won’t get the same result in both cases.  We certainly hope he does in the event of a self-defense shooting involving a concealed carrier.  However, in most situations, we can guarantee that attorney will dedicate more time and attention to the higher paying case.  After all, he may take the research from the first case and use it for the second.

Billing By The Case

If you’ve ever gotten a speeding ticket, you’ve likely also gotten a slew of letters in the mail from every attorney in the area offering a reduction or dismissal of your case for the low-low price of $242+ (or some scant amount).  How can an attorney get your $180 speeding ticket dismissed for $242*?

*SPOILER: You’re still on the hook for the court fees.

It’s because he’s doing a whole stack of them at once.

When the judge hears traffic cases, you can bet your attorney will be right there with a HUGE stack of cases nearly identical to your own.  You know what the judge does?  He rubber stamps the vast majority of them.  It’s because that attorney has a set defense for each of them that the judge has heard so many times that he’s sick of hearing it again.  So as long as your case falls between the lines of that pre-made defense, your case is usually dismissed (or charges reduced).  The attorney charges you one set fee for the case and is taking a calculated risk that the judge wants to leave before lunch time.  Plus, in the traffic violation incidences, the court still gets its money.

How does this apply to the concealed carrier?  It applies specifically when your case falls within the purvey of an attorney’s pre-made defense.  Say an attorney has already represented other concealed carriers whom have been stuck in self-defense situations nearly identical to your own.  Your case comes up and the attorney sees you meet most (if not all) of the criteria necessary for a defense which has been successful in most of the other ones he has represented.  He goes up to you and says, “Mr. CCW, for a set amount of money, I can likely have your charges dismissed or reduced greatly.”

You’re already up a creek without a paddle so you’re going to probably put a second mortgage on your house and pay the man.  The attorney goes into it knowing a likely result.  You avoid paying him hourly.

Is It Better To Just Get CCW Insurance?

That’s a hard question.  The actual likelihood of you, the concealed carrier, ever being in front of a judge for a self-defense shooting outside of your home is so statistically negligible that you’d probably be better off buying a lottery ticket every day and putting the winnings into your self-defense rainy day slush fund.

But it’s impossible to know.  Statistically negligible is never zero.  And as we’ve reported in a number of previous cases – self-defense shootings are anything but predictable.  What you may consider to be a just and right use of deadly force in defending yourself or another person may actually stray outside of the law by virtue of something as silly as a technicality.  That technicality, depending on the election year and the political ideology of your county prosecutor, may bloom into a full-blown case of “let’s make an example”.

The great thing about the major CCW insurance agencies is that the attorneys they keep on speed dial likely have the aforementioned pre-made defenses discussed in “Billing By The Case”.  So, they’re going to have access to the right attorneys you want to talk to.  Those attorneys won’t be cheap but thankfully you won’t be footing the entire bill.  You also won’t have to immediately take out a second mortgage on your home just to post bail and pay the retainer.

The difference between hiring a criminal defense attorney and losing everything paying for a criminal defense case is most likely found in a solid concealed carry insurance policy.

The fact is – you don’t need to have a criminal defense attorney on standby, but it may be a good idea depending on whether or not you have concealed carry insurance.  If you need a criminal defense attorney, though, you will almost guaranteeably go bankrupt paying him.  Prepare yourself accordingly.

About James England

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He is currently an advocate for veterans and constitutional carry in the State of New Hampshire. His daily carry is the Glock 19 Gen 4 in an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0.