Can I get a new criminal defense attorney?
If you have a retained or court-appointed lawyer and are not confident in your legal representation, it may be time to make a change.
There is NO reason to settle for a lawyer who is not fighting to protect and defend you!
If you face criminal charges, the case’s outcome can impact your life, livelihood, financial stability, family, and reputation. There is no room for errors, false promises, or lazy representation. If your legal defense is lacking, you should talk with your lawyer and see why you aren’t getting the representation you deserve and if there is a way to fix the situation. Any attorney should be able to explain in detail how they will help you. If you are not satisfied that your lawyer will do whatever it takes to ensure you get the best possible outcome, it might be time for you to get a new criminal defense attorney.
The Process is Different for Appointed and Retained Lawyers
The process for getting a new criminal defense attorney depends on whether you have a court-appointed or retained lawyer. You may change attorneys anytime and for any reason if you have a retained attorney (the one you paid for). The process is as simple as finding an experienced criminal defense attorney and hiring that person. They will know how to handle the simple mechanics of taking over your representation and releasing your prior lawyer.
If you have a court-appointed attorney, you must appear in court, usually at one of your regularly scheduled court dates, and explain to the judge you would like to get a new court-appointed criminal defense attorney. You can probably expect the judge’s irritated and impatient response at first. The judge will grill you about your request and will most likely be skeptical of your motives. However, if you have a serious and legitimate issue, the judge will have no choice but to consider it. It would be a good idea to write down a list of your problems with your attorney so you don’t forget what to tell the judge. Bring any documents or communications that may back up your explanation.
Will the judge be angry if I change attorneys?
In a word, no. A change in attorneys is routine, and judges typically take little notice. If you’ve retained a new lawyer, the judge knows you have a constitutional right to a lawyer of your choice. Because you have a constitutional right to counsel, the courts are usually very accommodating when hiring a new attorney. In fact, it is common for the court to permit an adjournment to permit the new attorney to “come up to speed” on your case if necessary. If the new attorney is well-known and experienced, the court is usually happy to have that person take over the case. Judges and prosecutors know that the court process runs smoother with a lawyer familiar with the court and experienced in criminal defense.
If your attorney was court-appointed, judges are reluctant to provide a new court-appointed criminal defense attorney. You may have a right to an appointed attorney, but not a lawyer of your choice. You must have a substantial, legitimate gripe with the lawyer to change court-appointed attorneys to get a new one. If you replace a court-appointed lawyer with a privately retained attorney, the judge will be happy to save the court the money necessary for the appointed lawyer.
What is the process of getting a new attorney?
When you hire a new criminal defense attorney, they will advise the court and enter the appropriate order changing attorneys on your case. The process is usually quick and easy for a seasoned lawyer. An attorney with a track record of success in court and an excellent reputation will likely have experience replacing other less effective or experienced attorneys. The process is as simple as finding a lawyer you trust to fight for you and retaining that person to take over your representation.
The process will depend on the individual court and judge if you request new, court-appointed counsel. Different courts have different procedures for appointing lawyers. You must ask the judge to appoint a new criminal defense attorney with good reason. The process is less complicated if the appointed lawyer agrees it would be best for you to have a new attorney. Switching from a court-appointed lawyer to a retained defense attorney is common and streamlined in most courts.
“If I get a new criminal defense attorney, will I be able to get a refund of some of the money I paid for my previous lawyer?”
“If I get a new criminal defense attorney, will my old lawyer give me some money back?” The answer to this question depends on the terms of the fee agreement or contract you signed with the lawyer. The different contractual terms and conditions are limitless, so there is no one correct answer to this question. The odds of getting a refund are much better if no fee agreement or contract exists. A professional, experienced, and respectable lawyer will always use a formal, written contract called a Fee Agreement.
Can my new criminal lawyer get my file from the previous lawyer?
Almost everything in your file at the prior lawyer’s office is your property; your new lawyer should not have any problem getting it. Many lawyers are familiar with this process, and making a copy of a file is not complicated. Most lawyers charge a nominal fee to the client to cover the cost of reproducing copies of physical documents and paper discovery. In most cases, electronically stored documents are provided without charge.
How do I know if I’m making the right decision in replacing my attorney?
It may not be easy to decide if switching lawyers is right. These are a few objective things to consider:
- Does the lawyer communicate with you about what is going on in your case to your satisfaction?
- Does your lawyer satisfactorily respond to your phone calls and emails?
- Does your lawyer adequately explain why specific actions are being taken in your case so that you understand?
- Is your lawyer rude or discourteous to you?
- Does your lawyer frequently ask for money for things you believe are already covered by the retainer amount? If so, do you get an acceptable explanation?
- Does your lawyer ask for legal fees above the amount you’ve agreed to in a contract?
- Does it appear that the judge respects your lawyer, and does your lawyer treat the judge respectfully?
- Is your lawyer courteous and professional with the opposing lawyer?
- Is your lawyer doing the things they told you they would be doing?
In the final analysis, besides the items above, you will probably have a gut feeling that the lawyer is unsuitable for you. If you have a retained, hired criminal defense attorney, you can act any time you want, within reason. Having the right lawyer can make the difference between freedom and prison, guilt or innocence, and financial liberation or devastation. A conviction can be life-altering, and having the best legal counsel by your side can be invaluable.
Top 10 Reasons to Switch to a Retained Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have an appointed criminal defense lawyer, there is a good chance you aren’t getting the attention you desire, the fight you need, or the defense you deserve. So you are probably asking yourself, “how do I get a new criminal defense attorney?”
(1) A retained criminal defense lawyer may have more time and resources to devote to your case.
(2) A retained criminal defense lawyer may have more specialized knowledge and experience in your particular type of case.
(3) You may have more control over the attorney you choose.
(4) A retained criminal defense lawyer may have a stronger incentive to achieve the best possible outcome for you, as their reputation and future business may depend on it.
(5) A retained criminal defense lawyer may have better relationships with prosecutors and judges in your area, which could lead to more favorable outcomes.
(6) You may feel more comfortable working with a retained criminal defense lawyer, as you can choose an attorney you trust and feel understands your needs and concerns.
(7) A retained criminal defense lawyer may be better able to negotiate with the prosecution or challenge the evidence in your case.
(8) A retained criminal defense lawyer may be able to provide a more personalized and tailored defense strategy that takes into account your unique circumstances and priorities.
(9) You may feel more confident and reassured knowing that you have a dedicated and experienced advocate on your side.
(10) A retained criminal defense lawyer may be able to provide more individualized attention and support throughout the entire legal process, from pre-trial to post-trial proceedings.
Respected and Effective Criminal Defense Lawyers
The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has routinely substituted into cases as new lawyers where clients were dissatisfied with their former attorneys. The dedicated, experienced, and zealous defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Livingston Counties, and throughout federal and state courts in Michigan. Because judges and prosecutors know that our lawyers are experienced yet professional, they generally welcome our intervention in cases that are not running smoothly.
Whether trial, plea negotiations, seeking dismissal, or fighting to suppress evidence, we bring the professionalism, influence, and skill to win! We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation for fair and affordable legal fees while showing empathy and care for each client.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.