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Changing a lawyer

Sacramento, CA |
Filed under: Personal injury

Can a defendant in a criminal case change the lawyer more than once(private attorney)? Does it cause any impact in the minds of the DA about the reasons of doing this if the defendant does that? Is there a downside associated in changing the lawyer 2 times?

Attorney Answers 5


The DA probably won't care either way. The Judge may get annoyed because it slows down the progress of the case. Each attorney that enters onto the case must be granted a continuance to review the discovery. The Judge can always deny a substitution of attorney.

Seth Weinstein, Esq.
Southern California Criminal Defense Attorney
(310) 707-7131

This reply should NOT be considered a legal opinion of your case / inquiry. At this time I do not have sufficient factual/legal documentation to give a complete answer to your question and there may be more to the issues you raised then I have set out in my brief reply.

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To an extent, it depends on the nature of a case and the stage that the case is at. For example, if the case is set for a contested hearing such as a trial or a prelim, changing attorneys can cause delays, which judges are not generally a fan of. The largest downside is the fact that you'll presumably be paying more than one attorney. Good luck.

Jasen Nielsen

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YES, but. . . The Judge assigned the case is in charge of its movement through the court system. Current counsel needs to secure leave (permission) of court to withdraw so that new counsel can enter he/her appearance as counsel of record. Courts may become reluctant or outright unwilling to allow a change of attorneys if the Court believes that it is really a disguised attempt to delay the case, since the entry of a new attorney often requires a request from that attorney to continue the case to allow sufficient time for preparation. There is certainly an economic downside to changing lawyers. You will pay more for two attorneys than one and more for three than two. I would suggest you look closely at your relationships with counsel and have a detailed conversation with the current attorney who you are thinking of replacing to discuss your concerns. Communication failures between lawyers and their clients are commonplace and both parties to the relationship usually bear some responsibility for those shortcomings. Make an effort to get this relationship back on track; you will save yourself money and the farther along a case has moved, the harder it is for a new attorney to get him or herself into a position equivalent to the one that has just been replaced. There will be things that the previous attorney picked up on in the course of preparing your defense that can't be transferred to new counsel. Conversations with opposing counsel, police officers, and witnesses will be lost to new counsel in whole or in part dependent upon how counsel documented such things in your file. Many of them never find their way onto a piece of paper, stored only in the lawyers memory banks.

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Typically with permission of the court.

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You can fire a privately retained attorney anytime without the court's permission. If the lawyer were court appointed, such as a PD or CCD attorney, then you would have to have the court's permission, unless you were going to represent yourself. Among other things, having multiple private attorneys means you're spending a lot of money just to have different attorneys look at the same police reports over and over. Better to figure out why you want to hire another attorney than spending cash for no good reason. If there is truly a conflict with your attorney, see if it can be resolved. Does the attorney seem unprepared or unavailable to meet with you? Does he seem to know what he or she is talking about? If things cannot be resolved to your satisfaction, then you can always hire a different private attorney. Neither the DA nor judge will care much, so long it's not the day before trial. Then you might have a problem.

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