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Replacing Your Public Defender: Everything You Need to Know Before You Fire Your Court-Appointed Lawyer

Posted by Admin Law Office of Henry Nguyen Criminal Law
June 17, 2013

If you’re ever charged with a crime, you have the constitutional right to have an attorney represent you. Depending on your locale and the type of crime you’re charged with, the courts may offer an attorney to work on your behalf if you cannot afford one yourself. A public defender is an attorney who is paid by the state to represent accused persons who cannot afford an attorney. They aren’t working with the state, however, and their main goal is to advocate for their client.

The courts may also give a person a court-appointed attorney. This is a private attorney who is sometimes brought in by the state to represent a person. This is often done when a person faces serious charges such as murder. Unfortunately, there may be times when you and your lawyer may clash. This could be because of their personality or a difference in how they view the case.

Though they’re not guaranteed to be successful, there are a few methods in which you can go about getting a new attorney.

Requesting a Different Attorney

One way of getting a new attorney is by simply requesting one. You will likely have to submit your request to the public defender’s office or the judge themselves, and you will need to have a very good reason behind the request. If your reason is legitimate, and you haven’t already changed lawyers once, there’s a good chance that you will be successful.

It’s also possible to have an attorney request that the court remove him. In this case, you have to make sure that the judge understands that you want a new court-appointed lawyer or public defender. Judges will sometimes mistakenly believe that this request means that you somehow found a way to afford private counsel.

Picking Your Own Attorney

Even if a judge grants your request for new counsel, you’re not going to be able to personally pick your attorney. To do this, you’ll have to hire your own private attorney. This usually costs money, but it’s a guaranteed way to get the attorney you want. In fact, if your financial circumstances happen to change during a case, and the court believes that you can afford your own attorney, you’ll often be required to do so.

Additionally, you may be able to find a private practice attorney who will take your case at a reduced fee or for no fee at all. Many state bars require a certain amount of this charity work from attorneys each year.

Going It Alone (Pro Se Representation)

As in all criminal matters, you also have the option to represent yourself in court. This decision shouldn’t be made recklessly, though. Attorneys attend school for years to learn their profession. This shows that law isn’t easy to understand, and you may spend valuable time simply learning the basics of your case. Some jurisdictions will require that an attorney still assist you in these instances, but going it alone should be a last option.

It’s always important to remember that a change of attorney isn’t guaranteed to be granted. The court will decide on this. This makes it imperative to try to work well with your appointed lawyer.

Call the Law Office of Henry K. Nguyen, P.C. at 713-222-1800 if you would like to hear more about working with court-appointed lawyers.

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