Why take a chance on a case that carries up to one year in jail, a $5,000 fine, five years probation and loss of your right to ever own or possess a firearm again, in addition to difficulty obtaining employment, renting apartments or even entering Canada.
If you are already considering the possibility of an undesirable result, take step to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney now who will be able to pursue every available defense to make sure you are not convicted. Defendants who are wrongfully accused always need the most experienced and aggressive defense.
Absolutely, you can fire your court appointed attorney and hire a private defense attorney. I would suggest gathering all the information you have on your case and scheduling a free consultation with a local practitioner to determine if they believe they can obtain a better result than the one you public defender has obtained for you. Most public defenders are highly skilled attorneys with a great deal of experience, however, they often lack the time to invest in your case which may make a big difference. I would be more than happy to provide you a complimentary review of your case, if you're interested. No matter what you decide, it doesn't hurt to get a second opinion. I hope this helps answer your questions.
Your objective should be winning at TRIAL, where the odds will seldom be better, than attempting to obtain, and then prevail on, an appeal.
If you are not happy with your appointed attorney, scrape up the funds and retain private counsel. The WA and your county bar association can provide referrals.
The foregoing is for general information purposes and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
You would have to have a basis to be able to "go again" and "having a court appointed attorney" wouldn't be enough of a basis. If you plead you would only be able to "go again" if you could show that your attorney was ineffective (a very hard thing to show). If you lose in trial, your conviction would only be overturned on appeal if there were things that went wrong in trial and they were wrong enough to deserve a retrial. Most court appointed attorneys are excellent, dedicated to defense work and know what they are doing. But if you don't like how your court appointed attorney is handling the case then start trying to hire someone you do trust. You probably won't have a chance to "go to court again" once your case is finalized by either a conviction at trial or with a plea.
To answer your specific question: Yes. If you "don't like the results" you can always hire a lawyer later, but that might be a really bad idea.
If a criminal defendant has a trial and loses (I.e., "doesn't like the result"), the defendant could then hire an attorney to either appeal or file some type of collateral attack such as a petition for post-conviction relief. Both of these options are expensive, time consuming, and difficult to win. At each stage, the rules basically get tougher. For example, on an appeal, a defendant would have to prove that the trial judge made a bad ruling, the ruling should have been different, and if the judge had made the right ruling, it would have made a difference at trial. In the other option, post conviction relief, the petitioner alleges a constitutional defect -- most commonly that trial counsel did such a bad job the result should be set aside and the defendant should get a new trial. In either of these options you would first have to win before you get a chance at a "re-do". You might not get that chance (because there were no errors). But even if you did win, you'd be back in the position you're in now -- facing a trial, needing to hire counsel.
To make a metaphor: if you're building a house and you already don't like your architect, don't like the design, and don't like the builder .... Can you just keep going and remodel later? Yes you can. But why do it that way?
If you're considering hiring counsel it is generally better to do it sooner than later.
Please note that the matter discussed above is not intended to constitute legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed. Questioners who post questions are advised to not discuss their matter in public on the internet and that doing so may waive attorney-client confidentiality that they would otherwise have. The foregoing is posted as a public service in order to educate the public about how laws work and function.
I agree completely with the answers provided by my colleagues. As mentioned previously, Clark County has a number of great court appointed attorneys, so it is probably worth at least seeing what progress can be made on your case with the attorney who was appointed to your case. I would note, however, that time can be of the essence in criminal cases. It is important that your attorney begin working on defending your case as soon as possible. Favorable witnesses (on both sides) can sometimes relocate and become harder to track down, and memories fade with time, so the sooner you make a choice one way or the other, the better. Judges also sometimes frown on granting multiple trial continuances as well unless there is a very good reason. And, reiterating what was stated by my colleagues already, if you wait until after trial (assuming you are convicted) it becomes much more difficult to re-litigate the case as there generally has to be a glaring issue that would compel a judge to grant a new trial.
If you get the impression that your court appointed attorney isn't doing the job you feel they should be doing, it would probably be worth sitting down with a local private criminal defense attorney to see if you feel more comfortable with them assisting you with your case going forward. If it gets to that point, I would be happy to provide a free case analysis and discuss your case with, and I work just a few blocks from the courthouse in downtown Vancouver. Either way, I wish you the best in getting this unfortunate set of events cleared up.
Jeff Holmes - Attorney at Law - www.vancouverdefense.com - 360.975.9288. Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. This information is based on general principles of law, as well as my general experience that may or may not relate to your specific situation. This information is not meant to take the place of actually consulting an Attorney in your jurisdiction. If you would like legal advice, I would recommend consulting an attorney in your locale.
The answers and advise provided by my colleagues is well stated. The ability to discharge your attorney and hire private counsel becomes more costly and complicated the further you are in your case. You are already expressing concerns regarding the efficacy of your court appointed counsel. I would strongly recommend you make your change at this time and seek a new attorney to represent you.
John J. Lutgens Attorney at Law (360) 693-2119 The above information is provided as a courtesy and is not to be considered legal advise. For a legal opinion regarding this matter you should contact a licensed attorney.