Placentia, CA asked in Criminal Law for California

Q: Can a defendant relieve his retained / private attorney without any reason? Even 3 days before trial?

Is a defendant allowed to no longer use his private attorney and request either a public defender or pro per / pro se? Does the judge have authority to make you keep private retained counsel? See People v. Manila (please explain)

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2 Lawyer Answers
Dale S. Gribow
Dale S. Gribow
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Palm Desert, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: a defendant can move to discharge, but a judge may ask for proof of why it is being done at the last minute.

i assume it is because of a difference of opinion in presenting evidence and what evidence would be presented.

it would be a good idea to have another lawyer retained to advise the court they are taking over and request a short continuance to prepare.

Paul Samuel Geller
Paul Samuel Geller
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Pasadena, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: A defendant has a right to hire the attorney of his/her choice, so you may request to have your private attorney relieved. The Judge may want to inquire why, and if they feel it is simply a delay tactic, there may be an issue. If your attorney claims a conflict of interest, that too may be inquired upon separately by the Judge (or your attorney may file a declaration under seal explaining the conflict), but generally that would be allowed. You only get a public defender though if you financially qualify. I agree with Mr. Gribow, that you may want to simply have a new private attorney standing by ready to go if the Judge sees this as a delay tactic and your new lawyer tries to request more time.

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