Corona, CA asked in Criminal Law for California

Q: Question; in regards to my son who is incarcerated presently.. can he request a different public defender?

He has been incarcerated since 7/06/20. He hasn't understood what exactly he is being charged with at this time. There are several charges. He is not understanding his public defender. He feels he has agreed to a bargain he really doesn't comprehend. Can he change his mind and not accept this bargain as long as papers have not been signed??

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
John Karas
John Karas
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Temecula, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Addressing the last part of your question, yes, your son can change his mind regarding changing his plea to guilty in exchange for mutually agreed upon sentence to be imposed especially if he doesn't understand what's happening. Is it a language issue? If so, an interpreter would be furnished to translate everything in the language he understands.

As far as changing PD's (Public Defenders), that's not how the system is set up. If your son does not understand what he's being charged with and has some type of communication problem with his PD, he can ask for a Marsden hearing. Most judges, most of the time will appoint a new lawyer to represent a defendant.

However, don't get your hope (or that of your son) up that he's going to get a 5 star rated criminal defense lawyer. Every county has a different rate structure to pay such attorneys a flat fee. In Riverside County where your son's case is venued, the flat fee is only $500 for the entire case unless it goes to trial in which case the attorney can make up to $1,500 which is chickenfeed.

Such low rates attract attorney's will "twist your son's arm" to accept whatever the DA is willing to offer because they have a financial incentive to rid of the case as quickly as possible. If done in 1 appearance, they make $500 for about 1 hour of their time. But, if they have to come to court 2 or at most 3 times their hourly fee drops to about what an auto mechanic makes so they will dump your son by declaring a conflict of interest (client not doing what they attorney is telling them to do) and a new conflict panel attorney will be appointed and the same drill will happen all over again.

I suggest you think about hiring a skilled and experienced and criminal defense lawyer to represent your son than go through that merry-go-round I described above especially if your son is facing serious jail time or is charged with a sex related offense which will haunt him for the rest of his life.

Just like auto mechanics, doctors, etc. not all criminal defense lawyers are the same. Some are better than most if not all of the others.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.