A public defender is an attorney appointed by a court of law to provide legal representation in a criminal case to someone who cannot otherwise afford an attorney. The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees the right to legal representation in a criminal case. If you are accused of a crime and you cannot afford to hire private counsel, the court of law will review your financial position to determine if you qualify for a public defender. If the court of law agrees that you cannot afford private DUI counsel, the court will assign a public defender to you.
If you believe the public defender assigned to your DUI criminal case is not providing you sufficient legal representation, you have several options. First, you should speak with your public DUI defender to be sure they are aware of your concern. It is possible that something your public DUI Lawyer is doing that does not make sense to you is in fact for a valid and perhaps necessary legal reason.
However, if speaking with your public DUI lawyer does not resolve the matter, you can petition the court of law to assign a new public DUI defender to your DUI case. Whether the judge in your DUI case will assign you a new public DUI defender will depend on your specific DUI case and if the judge agrees that your public defender is not providing you sufficient legal representation. The failure to provide you sufficient legal representation could be because of something inappropriate your public DUI attorney is doing or because of something your public defender should be doing that he is not.
If your financial position has changed such that you want to hire a private DUI lawyer, you have the right to do so. You should notify your public defender as well as the DUI court of law that you want to change to a private DUI lawyer (or put more harshly, that you want to fire your public defender). The judge will review your petition for change of counsel and make a decision about allowing you to change to a private DUI lawyer.
Keep in mind that depending on the circumstances of your criminal DUI case and when you notify the judge of your desire to change to a new attorney—whether it is a new public defender or a private DUI attorney—the judge may deny your request for new DUI representation. A judge may deny your request to change to a new DUI attorney if they believe you are making the request simply to delay the DUI trial; there must be a legitimate issue with how your public defender is representing you in order for you to switch to a new public defender or a private DUI lawyer.
The best approach to obtaining a new DUI attorney is likely to notify your public defender that you want them to file what is known as a Marsden motion with the court, which is the formal name of the request to change to a new DUI lawyer. Have your public defender schedule a hearing for the judge to review this request at a time before the DUI trial itself is scheduled, so that it will not be seen as an attempt to delay the DUI trial.
Finally, remember that if you switch to a private DUI attorney and your financial position changes again such that you can no longer afford the services of a private attorney, the court will need to appoint you another public defender. Although the judge may not be pleased with the need to change DUI attorneys multiple times during a DUI trial, you still have the right to adequate legal DUI representation in your DUI case.
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