Anyone accused of a crime is entitled to fair legal representation. This includes the right to a lawyer. If you cannot financially afford to hire your own lawyer, the courts are required to supply you with one. Although you do not get to choose your court-appointed lawyer, you must remember that he or she is required to work hard to represent you.
If you are not satisfied with your appointed attorney, you can submit a request for new representation. You might consider firing your attorney if he or she does not have any experience with cases similar to yours, or you do not feel like he or she understands your specific needs. If you do choose to let go of your court-appointed counsel, you have a few options for legal representation.
Request a New Lawyer
You can always request a new attorney, but the judge does not have to grant your request. If you cannot afford to hire your own lawyer and wish to use a public defender, you don’t get to choose who will be assigned your case.
Depending on the jurisdiction, you will either file your request with the judge or the public defender’s office. The judge will then consider the reason for the request and decide whether or not to allow you to change lawyers.
Your court-appointed lawyer can also ask to be relieved from your case. If this happens, a new attorney will be appointed to you.
Hire a Private Lawyer
If possible, hiring your own attorney is the best option. After dismissing the lawyer who was assigned to you, seek out private counsel willing to take your case for a reduced fee. Some lawyers might defend you pro-bono and other attorneys have affordable payment plans.
Court-appointed lawyers are assigned to defend clients who cannot afford to hire an attorney. If your financial circumstances change during the course of the trial, the judge may dismiss your appointed attorney anyway, and you will be forced to find your own representation.
If you cannot afford a lawyer and do not wish to keep the one who was assigned to you, you may choose to represent yourself in court. However, this option should only be considered as a last resort. Lawyers study the law for years and receive continuous training on new laws and procedures. If you choose to represent yourself, be prepared to spend a lot of time studying the details and laws of your particular case.