When can a Criminal Lawyer Withdraw from a Case in Arizona?

The State Bar of Arizona sets the Rules of Professional Conduct that all attorneys must adhere to. These rules outline permissible practices, the rights and responsibilities of lawyers. They also highlight some of the situations in which a criminal defense attorney has the right to terminate client representation. So, when can a criminal lawyer withdraw from a case in Arizona?

When Can Attorney Fire Their Clients

Clients are the ones typically in charge of the process. They have the right to fire a criminal defense attorney when they decide. How about the rights of attorneys? Is there a situation in which a lawyer can decide to fire their client?

According to the State Bar of Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct, declining or terminating client representation is possible under certain circumstances. The most common ones include:

  • A representation that will violate the State Bar of Arizona rules
  • The lawyer’s physical or mental condition keeps them from offering a client the best possible representation
  • The lawyer gets discharged
  • The client insists on the attorney’s involvement in actions that are perceived as either criminal or fraudulent
  • The client has used the services of the attorney to commit a crime
  • The client insists upon actions with which the lawyer has fundamental (ethical) disagreement

The rules state that lawyers should always work with clients facing criminal charges to ensure the best possible outcome under the circumstances. The very same rules, however, recognize situations in which attorneys will either be breaking professional guidelines or the laws through a continuous relationship with the respective client.

It’s not easy for an attorney to drop a criminal case. The circumstances should be quite serious for such a discontinuation of the professional relationship to occur. It’s also important to point out that the lawyer has to notify both the client and the court of such a decision. Depending on the circumstances, the court may keep a legal professional from exiting the case.

Can a Lawyer Quit Due to a Payment Failure?

This question is an obvious one. If you’re facing criminal charges and you’re also experiencing financial difficulties, you may be concerned about losing your legal representative.

An Arizona criminal defense attorney has the right to withdraw from a case whenever their client fails to pay due bills. There are certain conditions for such a withdrawal to occur, however.

A client should have been notified in advance about the situation. Reasonable warnings must be followed by an opportunity to pay the bill. It’s in the best interest of both parties to solve the issue and move forward. If you are being difficult or you refuse to cooperate, however, a lawyer can drop the case.

Difficulties and Complications

As already mentioned, the attorney’s withdrawal has to be approved by an appointment authority, which is usually the court.

The situation can get complicated whenever a lawyer is asked by a client to engage in unprofessional, fraudulent or illegal activities. The court will demand an explanation of the reasons for the requested withdrawal. A criminal defense attorney, however, is bound to protect client confidentiality. Providing details in such situations can be difficult or impossible.

criminal lawyer withdraw from a caseA lawyer’s statement that the current circumstances necessitate termination should be sufficient to allow criminal lawyer withdraw from a case.

Even if the withdrawal is approved, the attorney is still obliged to assist their former client. The client will be entitled to certain legal documents like evidence, discovery, research, pleadings, transcripts, etc. Arizona criminal defense lawyers cannot charge their customers for the provision of such documents after the termination of the professional relationship.

The confidentiality of all matters discussed with a client has to be maintained even after the withdrawal. An attorney cannot later on become a witness in the case. A violation of these rules can eventually result in disciplinary actions against the attorney.