• January 02

Firing or Removing Your Defense Attorney

Firing or Removing Your Defense Attorney


Criminal Defense Lawyers

A criminal trial is complex, frustrating, tiresome, and anxiety-inducing for the individual on trial. Because of the stew of mixed emotions and concerns, it is not uncommon for tensions to rise, spurring conflict between the defendant and their defense team. Do not assume occasional emotional blowouts are reason enough to swap attorneys before or during your trial. However, if you believe your current lawyer does not have your best interest at heart or is incompetent, it is crucial to understand your rights.

Firing a Personal Lawyer Before or During Trial

If you hired a personal attorney, you and the lawyer are under contract. Typically, a contract will include a termination clause, allowing you as the hirer to dissolve the professional relationship whenever you see fit. However, before you commit to firing your lawyer, you will want to understand how fees will be paid. See, even though the lawyer did not reach the conclusion of the case or even its start, they likely have completed work for you, including paperwork, witness prep, investigations, etc. You will need to compensate the lawyer for their work regardless of how things ended.

If you wish to terminate an attorney during the trial, the judge might raise some objections. However, as the attorney is a privately contracted worker, the decision is ultimately yours to make. The Judge will probably specify that the removal of your current attorney will not be an adequate reason for a mistrial or appeal.

Firing a Court-Appointed Attorney

Unlike with a private attorney, the termination of a court-appointed attorney is much more involved and difficult. Because a public defender is a free representative for defendants who cannot afford a private attorney, a service provided by the state, you cannot pick and choose without good reason. Telling a judge you want a new lawyer because you don’t like the one you have is not reason enough for removal. You will need to compile a list of valid reasons compelling you to request the change.

Even if you provide a good reason for the request, a judge might still deny it because of the case. If the trial has already started, swapping attorneys could present a disservice to you and your defense, meaning the judge is justified in the denial.

Ultimately, firing a private attorney is up to the defendant, but removing a court-appointed attorney is up to the judge. Contact a criminal defense lawyer, like the attorneys at Tuttle Law, P.A., if you would like more information.

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