December 7, 2016

Can I Change Lawyers During My Criminal Defense Case?

can I change lawyers?

When things aren’t working with your current representation, it can leave you feeling discouraged about the outcome of your criminal case and wondering, “Can I change lawyers now?” It’s important to be able to work with the person that is working for your best interests, but that may not always be easy. How do you know if it’s a good idea to look for someone you can communicate better with?

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So Can I Change Lawyers?

A criminal defendant that isn’t satisfied with their private attorney can fire their lawyer and hire a new one at any time. However, practically speaking, this isn’t always a viable option. For instance, if your trial is just days away and the judge has denied a continuance, hiring a new attorney wouldn’t be a realistic option because the new attorney wouldn’t have time to prepare.

If a defendant is represented by a public defender or court-appointed defense attorney, court approval is normally required to change attorneys. A major goal of the court is efficiency—the judge wants to keep cases moving along. Whenever a defendant changes attorneys, it drags out the process a little longer. For this reason, judges are only likely to grant requests to change public defenders when there are very serious problems with the attorney-client relationship.

Why Should I Dismiss My Lawyer?

Rarely should you dismiss a lawyer because you disagree with their strategic decisions. It is their job to make these decisions, and you should trust them to do so. If you have concerns about the direction of your case or don’t understand something, ask your attorney to better explain their actions to you.

It is also the job of your attorney to communicate information about your case with you, to act professional towards you and on your behalf, and to be dedicated to working in your best interests. If your attorney is failing to fulfill these obligations, it could be time to consider dismissing them.

Disadvantages to Changing Lawyers

The decision to change lawyers shouldn’t be taken lightly—there are some disadvantages to changing lawyers that should be considered. Here are three:

  • Your case will take longer to complete. The new lawyer will need to start from the beginning learning your case and developing his strategy. Normally, the hiring of a new attorney requires the judge to grant a continuance. If you are awaiting trial while in jail, this can add months to your pre-trial detention.
  • It could cost you more. If you change lawyers mid-case, you will essentially be paying two lawyers to do much of the same work. You will still need to pay your old attorney for work they already did, and you will have new legal fees from your new attorney as well.
  • There is no guarantee that a new attorney will be better. Before deciding to fire your attorney and hire a new one, you should really think about why you are feeling frustrated. Make sure you are firing your attorney because of their failings and not simply because the case isn’t developing how you would have liked. If the facts and the law aren’t on your side, hiring a new attorney isn’t going to change that.

Alternatives to Changing Lawyers

Consider these alternatives to changing lawyers before making a decision:

  • Demand better communication from your current lawyer. Oftentimes, better communication between lawyer and client can solve problems.
  • Consult with another attorney. It you have concerns about your attorney’s conduct or strategy, consulting with another attorney can help you gain a better perspective.

If you’re still adamant that you need to change lawyers, get a case evaluation from a criminal defense attorney in Henderson, NV, by calling Marchiano Law at 702-565-0473.