If the Criminal Defense attorney you have hired is not providing you with ethical and professional legal representation, there are several options available to you. An attorney that you have retained to represent you in your Criminal Case has certain ethical obligations to provide you with competent and diligent legal help. If you feel that you are not receiving the help that you hired the professional for, then you should look into switching attorneys as soon as possible or explore the option of representing yourself.
After you have decided that you would like to change attorneys, you must inform your attorney as soon as possible. Give them notice and let them know that a new attorney will be contacting them for the file. In criminal cases, the file is generally composed of the discovery (the police/arrest report) the attorney picked up at your arraignment. The attorney may not refuse to let you change attorneys. It is your choice if you feel that you are not being properly represented and the attorney must comply by providing you with a copy of the file. The attorney may charge a small fee for the price of copies and mailing if it is necessary.
In most cases, the retainer fee you have paid to retain the attorney is non refundable. In addition, the attorney may keep a part of your payment for work that has been completed. You are not entitled to a full refund except for in very specific situations. For example, let us assume that a client has retained an attorney for aDUI case and has paid the attorney $500 as a retainer and made a payment of $300. The attorney has been retained for a month and has made one court appearance. In addition, the attorney has spoken to the Prosecutor on several occasions, set up an alcohol rehabilitation and education program for the client to complete and has requested and reviewed the officer’s report. In this situation, the retainer fee will not be refunded and most likely the $300 will also be kept. The client may also owe the attorney more based on the significant amount of work the attorney has also completed for the client. However, the client still has the right to hire new counsel, but must still pay the previous attorney.
In comparison, take a situation in which the client has just retained the attorney to represent them in a shoplifting case. The client has signed the retainer agreement and has just given the attorney $300 retainer fee and has made no payments as of yet. The client leaves the attorney’s office after having hired the attorney and learns that their best friend who is also a Criminal Defense attorney will be able to handle the case for free. In this situation, the attorney has not done any work on the case since it has been a matter of minutes since they were hired. Any payment the client had made would have been refunded. The retainer is a different story. The policy for most attorneys is that the retainer is non-refundable. It’s purpose is to hold the attorney so that they keep their time and schedule open for that client’s case and do not accept other clients if there is a conflict. The attorney may choose to give back the retainer in this situation (and many attorneys would), but are not obligated to do so.
If you are unhappy with yourLos Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer take the necessary steps to change attorney’s right away. Do not wait until you have a court date within the next few days. Give yourself time to make the easy transition and to avoid any scheduling conflicts.