After an arrest, you can be desperate to find legal representation, but that desperation can lead to mistakes. There are several reasons that you may want to change attorneys after the start of a trial. For example, you and your lawyer may not get along, or perhaps you do not agree with the defense strategy. While there is no rule that you must like your lawyer or respect every decision they make, if the level of trust in the relationship is nonexistent, then you may want a change. However, you may not be aware of the legal ramifications or the ability to do so. Therefore, are you allowed to change attorneys if you are not happy with your representation? The answer depends on the situation.
Did you hire your attorney? Did you sign an attorney-client agreement? If you hired your lawyer, then you are most likely free to change your attorney whenever you see fit. Most contracts include a clause for change of counsel or termination. However, before you choose to let your lawyer go, be sure you understand the potential ramifications. First, the expense. You will need to pay your current attorney for any incurred cost as well as pay the fees for a new lawyer. Second, removing one attorney for another is not grounds for a mistrial or appeal. Therefore, know that changing attorneys does not somehow create an opportunity for a do-over.
While you are free to fire or remove an attorney from your defense team when you personally hire them, you cannot easily remove a public defender or court-appointed attorney. If you wish to remove a court-appointed lawyer, then you must request the removal from the judge. However, you have to have a reason for the request, and that reason cannot be that you just don’t like them. You have to list specific grievances. Although, in the absence of legitimate concerns, the judge is not likely to replace an attorney, especially if they feel that doing so would negatively affect your case.
Therefore, replacing an attorney can be easy or difficult, depending on the situation. If you hire your attorney, then you can replace them as you see fit, but if a lawyer was appointed to you, then you must seek the court’s permission, which is not likely to happen without evidence of wrongdoing. If you would like to discuss your options further, then contact a criminal defense attorney in San Mateo, CA and ask about the specifics of attorney-client agreements.
Thanks to The Morales Law Firm for their insight into criminal law and rules about changing lawyers.