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How likely will a judge give a continuance on short notice if my counsel is not adequate?

Harrisonburg, VA |

I requested a court appointed counsel for a show cause hearing for viol. of misdemeanor probation. I have a suspended sentence of 90 days for 2nd DUI in 5 yrs and elevated BAC which I served 30 days for. I have called his office several times and left messages and he has yet to return any calls. My court date is on the 21st. I would ideally like to dismiss him as counsel and retain another lawyer rather than discussing the case 5 minutes before trial. I contacted the clerk and she said no and to contact my lawyer. If I go today before the Judge to request a continuance to retain counsel how likely is it to be granted? I would have requested before, but I did not imagine my lawyer would ignore me as he has. Also what is the specific things I should do to request(ie forms, letter, etc)

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Attorney answers 1


My suggestion is that you NOT assume that the judge would grant you a continuance if the court date is tomorrow. There is no set rule for these things, but in general judges are not inclined to grant a continuance, particularly if a witness has been subpoenaed for the court date.

My suggestion is that you hire a DUI lawyer TODAY and go to court with him/her tomorrow morning. At least you would have some opportunity to prepare for the trial and the privately retained lawyer can then ask for a continuance on your behalf. If the continuance is not granted, you can then have the privately retained lawyer represent you.

Some court appointed lawyers do a good job for their clients. (In courts where there are full time public defenders, they usually are very dedicated and experienced.) However, court appointed lawyers are paid $150 per case -- not per hour -- and so it is often the case that they do a very minimal job representing criminal defendants.

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