Can I hire a private attorney after first choosing a public defender? 73 Answers as of June 11, 2013

After arraignment, if I chose to have a public defender, can I hire an attorney if the public defender is insufficient?

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Austin Legal Services, PLC
Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
Yes, you can always retain your own private attorney to replace your public defender at any time.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 8/31/2011
Clifford Clendenin & O'Hale, LLP
Clifford Clendenin & O'Hale, LLP | Locke T. Clifford
Yes, but your private attorney is going to need ample time to prepare, so don't wait until the last minute to hire him.
Answer Applies to: North Carolina
Replied: 6/14/2011
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
You can substitute private counsel as long as it is not right before the trial date and unreasonably delays the trial.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/8/2011
Harris Law Firm
Harris Law Firm | Jennifer C. Robins
Yes, you can hire private counsel after being appointed an attorney. Keep in mind your next court date, however; your new attorney will need time to get up to speed and some courts don't allow for many continuances.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 4/19/2011
Harris Law Firm
Harris Law Firm | Lauren Schmidt-Dipaola
Yes, you can always change from having a court-appointed attorney to a private attorney. If you want to hire an attorney you will just need to notify your court-appointed attorney and then the attorney you hire with file a document with the court that your attorney has changed.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 4/7/2011
    Law Offices of Scott G. Hilderman
    Law Offices of Scott G. Hilderman | Scott G. Hilderman
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 6/11/2013
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    You may hire private counsel if you choose to do so.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 4/4/2011
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    Yes. If you are thinking about hiring a private attorney, it would be worth getting a consultation about your case before the arraignment date. A lot of attorneys offer free initial consultations. If your case is in southern california, feel free to contact me through my website to discuss your case in further detail. If you decide not to hire a private attorney before the arraignment, you can later hire a private attorney and have that attorney "sub-in" as attorney of record.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    Yes. You may retain counsel at any stage of the proceedings. Should your case be in the Detroit Metro Area, you may contact my office to review your case and discuss attorney fees.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Yes. However, there are limits. If you are days away from a hearing or trial, the court can decide there is insufficient notice for change of counsel, unless the new attorney is ready. Do not delay if you intend to change.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    Yes, you can retain counsel of your choice at any time. Obviously, the closer you are to trial the less patience the court will have. Also, a private attorney may not be able to "undo" something the PD has done so sooner is always better than later.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Allan & Summary
    Allan & Summary | Justin Summary
    Yes, once you hire a private attorney the public defender will withdraw from your case.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Absolutely, as a criminal defendant, you have the right to counsel of your choosing as long as you can pay for him or her.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Sure. You can always hire private counsel at any point, as long as the court doesnt think youre doing it to delay the proceedings. You still [always] face the courts analysis of what to charge you for the PD, either way. You had to qualify for appointment of the PD, based upon your income and lack of ability to pay. If you now have found a way to pay for private counsel, so be it. If serious about hiring counsel, feel free to contact me.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    Yes, you can change attorneys at any time.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Sharifi & Baron
    Sharifi & Baron | S. Yossof Sharifi
    Yes, you are entitled to choose your own counsel at any point in the case. Occasionally, a judge may put up a fight if he has good cause but that's extremely rare.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
    You can hire a private attorney at any time, for any reason. There does not have to be a problem with the public defender.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    Yes, you can replace a hired attorney or a court appointed attorney with an attorney you choose and hire at any time.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    Yes. In Texas, an attorney is an employee at will. That means that you can fire your lawyer at any time for any reason. The Attorney however, due to ethical rules, can only quit under certain circumstances - you don't pay (if the attorney was retained) you ignore advise and do things contrary to the Attorney's instructions (this makes the attorney's job difficult if not impossible, which is the central theme in the other reasons he/she can quit), you insist on doing something illegal, you conduct yourself in such a way that renders effective representation unduly difficult if not impossible, or you refuse to cooperate with your own attorney in the case, refuse to appear in court, etc. So, the short answer to your question is yes, you can replace your public defender with an attorney of your choosing. Hire a lawyer, he or she will file a motion to substitute counsel, you will indicate your desire by signing it, the new lawyer will contact the old lawyer, notify the court, etc.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    You can hire a private attorney if you can afford it.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    The Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC
    The Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC | Justin C. Olsinski
    Yes, just find the attorney you want to hire and let them know. Then let your PD know and they will withdraw from your case. Usually this is allowed but if it is late in the case then it may be denied. If you have any questions or need an attorney in the Mecklenburg/Gaston County area please feel free to give me a call.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Bloom Legal, LLC
    Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
    It is possible to fire your public defender and opt for a private attorney. In order to do so will you will need to inform both your public defender and the court in writing of your intention to seek new counsel. It is important to include specific reasons for seeking new counsel but also making sure not to give away any specific details or incriminating information to the court. Under most circumstances, if your request is reasonable, the public defender should work with you to properly file the necessary items which will allow you to enroll a new attorney in your case. If you are seeking private legal representation in this matter in Louisiana, we invite you to contact our firm at the information on this page for a free case evaluation to determine how we might be able to assist you.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Hedges & Tumposky
    Hedges & Tumposky | Michael Tumposky
    You can always hire an attorney as long as it is not seen as a delay tactic.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Lori C. Obenauf LLC
    Lori C. Obenauf LLC | Lori C. Obenauf
    Yes. You always have the right to hire an attorney of your own choosing.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    Absolutely. It happens all the time. Often, the public defender gets appointed to defendants that are in custody at the time of arraignment or who haven't otherwise made arrangements for a lawyer. You can have your privately retained attorney substitute in at any point.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O.
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O. | Eric R. Chandler
    Yes, you can hire your own attorney at any time during the criminal litigation process.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    I am a former state and federal prosecutor. The simple answer to your question is that, generally, if it is not too late, you CAN retain a private criminal lawyer to represent you. I would encourage you to do so as soon as possible, so that your attorney will have sufficient time to prepare and help you. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Ferguson & Ferguson
    Ferguson & Ferguson | Randy W. Ferguson
    Yes. It happens all the time. Many of our clients call us after they find out who has been appointed to represent them.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Harrison & Harrison
    Harrison & Harrison | Samuel Harrison
    Yes, you can change your mind and hire private counsel.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    The Law Offices of Mark Kotlarsky
    The Law Offices of Mark Kotlarsky | Mark Kotlarsky
    Yes. You can hire a private attorney at any time. A public defender is not likely to do anything.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
    Yes, but be sure you make no misrepresentations to the court. You could have family pay for the attorney and still, yourself, be indigent.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Law Office of Gary Lazar
    Law Office of Gary Lazar | Gary Lazar
    Absolutely! You still have to pay a public defender, but not as much as a retained attorney would charge. If you use the public defender's services, you will still be charged for them. At the time you hire an attorney, he/she will file a substitution of attorney form and other than paying the public defender for any work done on your behalf, your obligation to him/her is over.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Rothstein Law PLLC
    Rothstein Law PLLC | Eric Rothstein
    Yes. I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me if you wish to retain counsel.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Law Offices of Lawrence Wolf
    Law Offices of Lawrence Wolf | Lawrence Wolf
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/11/2013
    Crippen & Cline, LC
    Crippen & Cline, LC | Stephen Howard
    The short answer is yes. The slightly longer answer is that you are generally entitled to choose your own attorney, if you are hiring the attorney yourself. If you are accepting the services of a court-appointed attorney, you get whoever you get. Often, the public defender will be a highly qualified attorney who has made a deliberate choice to work as a public defender. But if you are not satisfied with the services of your attorney, and you have the money to do so, you are free to hire anyone you like. (Having said that, I will add that if you do have the money to hire an attorney, you should do that rather than create additional work for an already overloaded public defender system. There are people who truly cannot afford to hire an attorney who really need the help of a public defender.) One of the few times a judge may not allow you to switch attorneys is if your case has reached a critical stage (such as the day before trial). So if you have concerns with the attorney who is representing you, you should address those concerns immediately.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Law Office of Tim W. Avery
    Law Office of Tim W. Avery | Tim W. Avery
    Yes, you may hire a private attorney at any time.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Leone, Throwe, Teller, & Nagle
    Leone, Throwe, Teller, & Nagle | Adam J. Teller
    Yes, you can always hire a private attorney. However, if you do not do it early in the process, a judge may not give the new attorney extra time to prepare the case or get ready for trial. Also, if the prosecutor has already made a plea offer through the public defender, they may be locked into a position. So, the best advice is to hire your private attorney as soon as possible. Also, please note that all public defenders are licensed attorneys and many are of very high experience and ability.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady | Kevin O'Grady
    You can always hire a private attorney even though you initially start with a public defender. However, you should hire a private attorney as quickly as possible because a public defender can do or not do things that cannot be corrected later when you hire a private attorney. If you want the best representation, you should seriously consider hiring a private attorney quickly.
    Answer Applies to: Hawaii
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman
    The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman | Gabriel Dorman
    Absolutely. There is no limitation or restriction to hiring a new lawyer to represent you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    The Law Firm of Aaron Bortel Esq.
    The Law Firm of Aaron Bortel Esq. | Aaron Bortel
    In most cases you will be allowed to change attorneys. The new attorney will require the court to allow them to sub in, and you may have to pay a fee for already using the PD.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Law Office of Aaron Nielson
    Law Office of Aaron Nielson | Aaron Nielson
    You can hire a private attorney at almost anytime. The sooner you hire an attorney the better.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Law Offices of Carl Spector
    Law Offices of Carl Spector | Carl Spector
    Yes you may chose to hire a private attorney after the court has appointed a public defender to you. You are entitled to the lawyer of your choosing. This is a common situation and you should feel comfortable having the lawyer you want to represent you. Good Luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    The Law Office of B. Elaine Jones
    The Law Office of B. Elaine Jones | B. Elaine Jones
    Yes, no matter whether you are appointed a public defender at first or not, you can always chose to hire your own attorney. If you have a case in the Tampa Bay area, give our office a call for further consultation.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
    Yes you can retain a private attorney at any time.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law | Edward A. Kroll
    Absolutely. You can hire a private attorney whenever you wish. You should be aware though, that the longer you wait to hire a lawyer or switch lawyers, the more difficult it will be for that new attorney to get up to speed.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Of course you can. Retain the private attorney, who then subs into the case, and the court relieves the PD.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Law Offices of Steven R. Decker
    Law Offices of Steven R. Decker | Steven Decker
    Yes, however the court may prevent the substitution if on the eve of trial or if done for the purpose of intentional delay but in most cases the substitution would be allowed.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Berlin Law Firm, PLLC
    Berlin Law Firm, PLLC | Lee F. Berlin
    Yes. This happens all of the time.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    Yes, of course, you can always hire your own attorney. However, if you already have some reservations about a Public Defender, it would be better to hire a private attorney up front so that things get taken care of correctly right from the start. That's not to say that a PD won't do things correctly, but they usually have a large case load and if you want personalized service (for which you will pay) then its better to have private counsel. Of course, the entire discussion carries with it the presumption that you have the funds with which to pay a private attorney and if you do, then why are you even contemplating a PD? Don't forget if you lie about the amount of money you actually have in order to be given a PD, that could lead to further charges if the authorities catch on later. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
    Choosing the right attorney is very important. Especially regarding criminal defense cases. Often, the public defender does not provide as much personal care as a private attorney may. Allow me to answer any additional questions you may have on this matter at my phone number below. I have over 30 years of experience in this area of the law and would be happy to speak with you.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    The Boerst Law Office
    The Boerst Law Office | Bruce Boerst
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 6/11/2013
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    You can always hire a private attorney. Let me suggest that you review my website on how to select a a criminal attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    The Law Offices of Jason Chan
    The Law Offices of Jason Chan | Jason Chan
    In most situations the court will allow you to hire a private attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts | Andrew Stephen Roberts
    Yes you can! Do not wait too long as to delay case from moving forward. But, you are always allowed to hire a private attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You can always retain a private attorney at any time and the court must give you an adjournment to do so. Most serious charges should be handled by an experienced criminal attorney with 20 or more years of experience who has a good relationship with the prosecutors and others in the system so that you can avoid a conviction or jail time. Some public defenders are very good but others are not as experienced or connected and that can hurt your chances of getting the best resolution to your case. Feel free to call for a consultation.I can recommend a good attorney in your area. I have offices in New York City and Buffalo.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    Yes. The court still may require some payment to the public defender, but you are always free to hire your own counsel.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Arnold & Wadsworth
    Arnold & Wadsworth | Brian Arnold
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 6/11/2013
    LT Pepper Law
    LT Pepper Law | Luke T. Pepper
    You can hire a private attorney but you may have to deal with the judge asking questions regarding your resources. In most jurisdictions, you must represent your income to qualify for a public defender but you can technically hire a private lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    The Law Offices of Dustan Neyland
    The Law Offices of Dustan Neyland | Dustan Neyland
    If you are in Texas, you have the right to hire a counsel of your choosing. If you are appointed an attorney and decide to hire your own, you will be allowed to do so.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 3/29/2011
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