In British Columbia, if you’re not satisfied with your lawyer, you have the right to change counsel in the middle of a criminal case. However, it’s not simple and may not be the best decision.
You will likely need permission from a judge to changelcounsel. The judge will consider many factors before agreeing to the change, including but not limited to:
- Any delays that may inconvenience the Crown, other witnesses, or the police
- How far along you are in the case and the complexity of the case
- Whether your trial would need to be re-scheduled
- Whether you have found another lawyer that is willing to take over your case
- Whether there are any co-accused that your change in counsel would inconvenience
The judge will decide whether to agree to your change of counsel, balancing your Charter of Rights to attain your counsel of choice against any of the above factors. Even if the judge agrees to your request, it still may not be in your best interest.
Disadvantages of changing your lawyer
You’ve likely tried to resolve your issues with your lawyer, but if you haven’t, that would be a great first step. It could be as simple as miscommunication between you and your lawyer. An honest conversation could settle all your problems without the added burden of change during this time.
Finding another criminal lawyer
Finding a new lawyer is likely your biggest challenge. Criminal lawyers in British Columbia are in high demand with limited time, and most are not likely to want to take your case mid-stream. You could end up with a lawyer that’s more difficult than your original one or perhaps more expensive. The search for a new lawyer may be time-consuming and frustrating. In addition, you’ll need to prepare your expectations and goals in writing for your new lawyer, ensuring you’re both in agreement with those expectations.
Doubling your costs
Before you can hire a new criminal lawyer, you need to settle your account with your original lawyer. You’ve been charged for all the time your original lawyer has spent reviewing and preparing for your case. Now, with a new criminal lawyer, they will also need to spend time preparing your case, thus increasing your costs. Your new lawyer will have to prepare quickly and may need to charge more than your original lawyer.
Starting over at a disadvantage
Another drawback of changing your lawyer in the middle of a case is that you are losing valuable time that could have been used to prepare your defence.
Your new lawyer is taking on the difficult task of researching the case, formulating a strategy and a defence in a short time. Unfortunately, the Crown will be completing their analysis and strategies without any learning curve, making it easier for them to present a solid case.
Before you change lawyers
There are, in some cases, valid reasons for changing lawyers. Our article, Five Signs You Should Fire Your Defence Lawyer, highlights these reasons. If you’re seriously considering changing lawyers, you should get a second opinion first.
Hire a Criminal Lawyer
If you’ve decided to change legal representation and are searching for a criminal lawyer in Vancouver, contact us at the law office of Tom Doust.
We’ll help you determine whether your challenges pertain to your current representation and provide you with clear advice on the best way to move forward. You can trust the expertise of Tom Doust. He’s a successful criminal lawyer with over two decades of experience who believes foremost in protecting your interests, helping you understand your options and achieving the best possible outcome for you.