Can my boyfriend's public defender just quit right before trial? 13 Answers as of March 26, 2012

Today my boyfriend's public defender quit today. He told me he got offered another better paying job somewhere else and he can't pass this opportunity up and is leaving the public defenders office all together. Trial was supposed to start. Is that even allowed? What should he do? I heard that he can maybe get trial dropped or dismissed? Is this true or is he screwed?

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Law Office of Jared C. Winter
Law Office of Jared C. Winter | Jared C. Winter
The answer to your question is yes 99% of the time. Public defenders can leave employment and go elsewhere, just like anyone else can. The only exception might be if the case is a death penalty case. The case will most likely be reassigned to another attorney in the public defender's office. Though you would not be entitled to a dismissal under these circumstances, the court will give the new attorney time to get up to speed on the case and to prepare for trial. In other words, the trial will likely be postponed.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/26/2012
Law Office of Brian K. Wanerman
Law Office of Brian K. Wanerman | Brian K. Wanerman
The mere fact that the particular attorney from the public defender who was representing your boyfriend quit does not necessarily prejudice his case. The public defender will simply appoint another lawyer from his office to take over the case. I imagine this lawyer will ask for time to become familiar with the case. All this depends on whether the judge allows it. No lawyer can simply drop out of a case. He must get permission from the court. Since you say your boyfriend's lawyer has already quit, it sounds lke the court gave him permission. Your boyfriend could always appeal any conviction on the basis of inaffective assistance of counsel if he feels the change in lawyers prejudiced his case.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/26/2012
Law Office of Mark Bruce
Law Office of Mark Bruce | Mark Corwin Bruce
Your boyfriend will get a new PD. though it is questionable for a lawyer to leave a client at the altar, so to speak, the P D office has probably already assigned the case to a new lawyer. If your BF is in custody, this could invoke problems under a case called "People v. johnson.". Under extreme circumstances, it could either lead to dismissal or the jugs ordering the lawyer to stay for the trial. More likely, however, the judge will find good cause and continue the case.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/23/2012
Law Office of Anthony Sessa
Law Office of Anthony Sessa | Anthony Sessa
Your boyfriend's first lesson on this situation is simply "you get what you pay for". This is a complaint I get all the time from people who try to go on the cheap when they are accused of committing a criminal offense. That is why it is critical for anyone accused of a crime to retain a responsible private attorney. As to your question, the judge will probably refer the case back to the public defender's office and a new PD will be assigned. Hopefully the next one will take serious interest in the case and actually prepare a defense. My best advice for both of you is to find some money and engage a private attorney to avoid being railroaded into a conviction.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/23/2012
Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
He's not screwed. They will appoint another public defender. Hopefully, this PD will ask for some time to learn the case.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/23/2012
    The Law Office of Stephanie M. Arrache
    The Law Office of Stephanie M. Arrache | Stephanie Arrache
    A new public defender will be assigned to his case, and will request a continuance. The court will have to grant the continuance. Or your boyfriend can hire private counsel.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    I have never worked at the public defender's office, but I would assume that they will pass your boyfriends case to another public defender to replace the one that is leaving, or your boyfriend can hire a privately retained attorney. In either event, the court would likely grant a continuance in order to give the new attorney the time to prepare for the trial.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    It is up to the Judge, who may rule that a replacement PD is not appropriate at this late stage.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Another PD will be assigned by the office, and the court will continue the case long enough for the new one to get ready on the case. No mystery here.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Law Offices of Matthew Murillo
    Law Offices of Matthew Murillo | Matthew Murillo
    Yes, the Public Defender can do that. No, the charges wont get dropped or dismissed because of that. It is not the DA's fault that the Trial wont be starting on time, so there is no true "Speedy Trial" violation. He doesn't have to do anything, a new Public Defender will be assigned to his case and the Court should allow them time to get up to speed before starting trial. If you can afford it, and you don't like what is happening, I would suggest looking for a private attorney to handle the case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    The Chastaine Law Office
    The Chastaine Law Office | Michael Chastaine
    In most situations - when a public defender is unable to complete a case - the case is transferred to a new public defender who will work towards preparing the matter for trial as quickly as possible. This will not get the case dismissed. Whether getting a new PD is good or bad depends on who the attorneys were. I wouldn't say he's screwed. It is possible that the court could make the old PD do the trial but that is rare.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    He cannot get trial dropped or dismissed just because his attorney left the PD office. I have concerns about the timing of and the complete departure. Depending on the nature of the BF's case , when trial is actually to start, this might be considered an abandonment. Talk to attorney's boss.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/23/2012
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    Your boyfriend is not represented by the one Deputy Public Defender that quit. Your boyfriend is represented by the county Public Defender and all his Deputies. His case will be assigned to a different Deputy Public Defender in the same office. The substitution of one Deputy Public Defender for another is not a reason for the case to be dismissed. However, could be grounds for a continuation. If the original Deputy Public Defender that was assigned to the case was responsible he should have reviewed your boyfriend's case with the person taking it over. He should also introduce your boyfriend to the new Deputy Public Defender.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/23/2012
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney