How to Fire a Public Defender

When you are charged with a crime, you have the right to choose your own attorney. If you can’t afford an attorney, the court appoints one for you without any charge. Such an attorney is known as a public defender.

The public defender must help you defend yourself against your charges. It is the responsibility of your court-appointed attorney to speak with you, discuss your case, and make a genuine effort for defense. However, that is often not the case simply because public defenders are inundated with the workload.

When your attorney fails to help your case, you may consider switching to someone else. You can legally request a change of your public defender. However, the courts typically reject such requests in a majority of the cases. You can also hire a private criminal defense lawyer, automatically removing the public defender from your legal representation.

The Marsden Hearing

If you believe that your appointed legal counsel is not fit to help your case, you can seek a change of counsel. This is done by filing a Marsden motion. You basically submit a legal document summing up your request for a substitution of attorney. The court then holds a Marsden Hearing, which is where your request is considered.

In the hearing, both you and the public defender are present in the court. The judge asks questions from both parties to determine why there is a disagreement. If your public defender is guilty of legal malpractice or if you two really have irreconcilable conflict, the court may grant your motion. The court then appoints a different public defender to help you with your case.

If the court finds that your request is not sound or based simply on anger or frustration, it is likely to reject the motion. In this case, you will be stuck with your public defender.

Hiring Private Legal Counsel

Your right to legal counsel is enshrined in the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. When a court appoints a public defender for you, the scope of the amendment becomes limited. In such a case, you have the right to legal representation but not to decide who will represent you.

In contrast, you have complete freedom to choose your attorney if you hire private legal counsel. Depending on the nature of your criminal charges, it is typically advisable that you hire private legal help. This ensures that you get dedicated legal advice, guidance, and support.

Get Help with Your Criminal Defense Today

If you have been charged with a crime, you need a tenacious legal defense. Criminal offenses can lead to a wide range of penalties including jail time, fines, license suspension, and more. A Chicago criminal defense lawyer can help you defend yourself and have the charges dismissed or reduced.

At Chicago Trusted Attorneys®, we help you build a robust defense for your charges. Call us now at 312-931-5411 or fill out the form for free advice.