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What if I don't like my attorney? You have options.

If you don’t like your attorney (or don’t get along with them) then you always have a right to fire them.

You have a right not only to retain counsel but to choose counsel.

Some of the factors weighed on appeal in deciding if the defendant was denied the right to counsel of his or her choice when forced to trial with unacceptable counsel are outlined in Rosales v. State, 841 S.W.2d 368, 374 (Tex. Crim. App. 1992) (quoting Ex parte Windham, 634 S.W.2d 718, 720 (Tex. Crim. App. 1982))]:

  1. The length of the delay requested;
  2. Whether other continuances were requested and the court’s rulings on them;
  3. The length of time that trial counsel had to prepare;
  4. Whether another competent attorney was prepared to try the case;
  5. The balance of convenience or inconvenience to the witnesses, opposing counsel, and trial court;
  6. Whether the delay was for legitimate or contrived reasons;
  7. Whether the case was complex or simple;
  8. .Whether the denial of the motion resulted in some identifiable harm to the defendant; and
  9. The quality of the legal representation actually provided.

Of course, this is decided on appeal and during the course of the criminal proceeding, it would be up to the judge whether to accept an attorney withdrawal from your case or you firing your court-appointed attorney. Often the court will ask you why and most any reason will suffice absent some attenuate circumstance.

Options For Future Representation

If you are dissatisfied with your trial counsel in a criminal case, you have options to seek different representation. Here’s what you need to know:

Public Defender or Court-Appointed Attorney:
1. Request for a New Attorney: If you have a public defender or a court-appointed attorney, you can request a new one, HOWEVER you will need to demonstrate good cause.

Good cause may include:

  • A conflict of interest.
  • Ineffective assistance.
  • A breakdown in communication.
  • A significant disagreement on how to handle the case.

2. Filing a Motion: You will typically need to file a motion with the court explaining why a new attorney is necessary. The judge will review your request and determine if a new counselor should be appointed.

Private Attorney:
1. Hire a New Attorney: If you have the money to hire a private attorney, you can choose to switch attorneys at any time. However, it’s important to consider:

  • Timing: Switching attorneys close to the trial date can lead to delays.
  • Costs: You may lose money that you’ve already paid to your current attorney and you will incur additional costs with the new one.

2. Notifying the Court: If you decide to hire a new private attorney, you need to inform the court and your current attorney of the change as soon as possible.

Steps to Take if You Want a New Lawyer

So you’ve decided you want to get a new attorney…you need to immediately:

  1. Document Concerns: Clearly document your reasons for wanting to change attorneys. This can include lack of communication, disagreement on case strategy, or lack of trust.
  2. Communicate: If possible, discuss your concerns with your current attorney to see if the issues can be resolved.
  3.  Consult Another Lawyer: Before making a final decision, consult with another attorney to ensure they can take on your case and meet your needs.
  4. File a Motion (if necessary): For a court-appointed lawyer, file a formal motion with the court explaining why you need new counsel. Provide detailed reasons and any supporting evidence.
  5. Prepare for a Hearing: The court may hold a hearing to consider your request. Be prepared to explain your reasons in detail.


  • Impact on Your Case: Changing attorneys can affect your case timeline and strategy. Ensure the new lawyer has adequate time to prepare.
  • Judicial Discretion: The judge has discretion to grant or deny your request for a new court-appointed counsel. They will consider whether your concerns are valid and whether changing attorneys will delay the proceedings.

You have the right to effective legal representation in a criminal case. If you believe your current counselor is not providing the level of representation you need, you can seek a different attorney. Ensure you have clear and valid reasons for wanting a change, and take the necessary steps to request a new lawyer either through the court or by hiring a new private lawyer.

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