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Can an attorney "quit" a case one month before going to trial.

Greenville, NC |

My husband was arrested on assault charges in January 2012, detained by Ice (he's a permament resident since 2002), and I retained a criminal lawyer to represent him. Even though I am unemployed, I've paid him over half of his fee, but now I've received a letter on 5/18 from him stating that if I don't pay the remainder of the fee before 5/30, he'll not represent my husband any longer and he's scheduled to go to trial in June....isn't it too late to change lawyers this close to trial, and isn't it unethical to demand full payment considering he is aware of my financial situtation.? Is there anything I can do short of a miracle to prevent his refusal to represent my husband at this late date?

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Attorney answers 3


A lawyer may withdraw if the client refuses to abide by the terms of an agreement relating to the representation, such as an agreement concerning fees or court costs or an agreement limiting the objectives of the representation. This close to trial he would need to do a motion to withdraw as counsel and have it approved by a judge. You can find more information relating to the ethical duties of attorneys on withdrawal below.

This information is provided for general purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created with the furnishing of this advice. Attorney licensed in North Carolina only.


His withdrawal from the case is subject to court approval. With it being close to trial, the Judge may not let him out. However, since you have not fully paid for the representation, your lawyer may argue financial hardship if he was to proceed without full payment. A trial takes a lot of work and time. If the judge lets him out of the case, ask for a public defender and see if you can get a continuance.

For informational purposes only. This comment is not intended to be legal advice.


As the other lawyers said, an attorney must seek court approval in order to withdraw. It's certainly frustrating as a lawyer to be hired on a case, promised a fee, and then have the friends or family not pay. Essentially, you're asking the lawyer to work for free as you have paid only a partial fee, and not a fee for trial. It's like taking your car into a mechanic, paying to have the tires changed, but not paying to have the engine rebuilt. But expecting the engine to be rebuilt.

The question for you is why you think your loved one's future is worth so little that you won't pay the lawyer what you promised. A deal's a deal.

<a href="">Raleigh criminal lawyer</a> Damon Chetson represents people in Raleigh, Cary, Apex, and the rest of Wake County, North Carolina. The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as the specific facts may change the potential advice. Consult with a licensed <a href="">Raleigh criminal lawyer</a> or attorney in your jurisdiction about your legal question or problem. For a free consultation about a North Carolina case, call (919) 352-9411 day or night, any day of the week.

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