5 Signs You Need a New Criminal Defense AttorneyPublished: Aug 11, 2021 in Criminal Defense
You did the right thing by hiring a criminal defense attorney instead of trying to go it alone, but you may have chosen the wrong person for the job. With so much at stake, there’s little room for error by an attorney.
Here are some of the things to look out for and when to make a change in your legal representation.
1. They Make Big Decisions Without You
Generally, attorneys should make well-measured, tactical decisions that help your strategy. You should be the one making the important calls that shape your defense. If your attorney is acting on their own, that’s a bad sign.
New developments may cause your defense strategy to change. In this case, you should listen to your attorney, be open to their point of view, and be reasonable about your expectations.
However, your attorney ultimately works for you. If your disagreements are strong enough, you should find another attorney.
2. They Are Unprepared, and Filings Are Late
Missing deadlines can impact your rights. Technical, procedural problems – like missed deadlines – can mean your defense won’t get a full hearing. A judge may ignore late filings. If your attorney is showing up to hearings without fully grasping the facts of the case and applicable law, that’s legal malpractice. You deserve better than that. Bad lawyering can not only cost you money; it can put you in jail.
3. They Are Unprofessional
This can take many forms. Examples like not respecting you, your time, or the importance of your case are unprofessional behaviors. This can also look like your attorney being rude to the prosecution, which will not help your case.
Most cases are resolved by plea bargain agreements negotiated with the prosecution. These agreements will be poorly received if the prosecution hates dealing with your lawyer. Being disrespectful to the judge or other court personnel are also serious signs you need another lawyer and can hurt your case.
4. They Are Unresponsive
A successful attorney will be busy, but they should still give each client appropriate attention. If you can’t reach them directly on the phone, you should get a call back within 24 hours. This is a sign your attorney may be having personal problems or isn’t making you or your case a priority.
5. They Make Costly Errors
Attorneys are supposed to use the facts to argue that the law supports your defense, and both sides will have different interpretations. But getting facts wrong and arguing legal points that no longer apply are big problems. This will put your case in jeopardy and lead to an undesirable outcome.
Deciding to Fire Your Attorney
Firing your attorney is a serious step, but it might be right for you. Discuss the issue with your lawyer but if you’re still not satisfied, let them know you’re ending the relationship. Your retainer agreement should state how to make it official.
Your former attorney should work with your future attorney to get your file. They will withdraw their appearance while your new one notifies the court they’re taking the case.
Contact a Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help
If you’re thinking about firing your lawyer, talk to Ned Barnett. You can go over the problems you’ve had and how his approach would be different.