Legal Question in Criminal Law in California

My friend has secured a lawyer and fees in excess have been paid. She was to appear in court this morning, and was unable to appear due to medical circumstances. She was charged with a felony probation violation and felony cultivation of marijuana and sales. Her lawyer presented information to the DA that included information related to past abuse, serious effects of confinement and clastrophobia to the severity that she has a mental breakdown.

The DA stated that she could not appear in court without being incarcerated. This is a serious outcome for her given her years of abuse as a child from age two to early adolescents, all has been well documented and presented. She was locked in closets, abused and left in darkness. Thus incarceration and the presence of men of authority at this level is so terrifying.

She fled a raid at her home and was willing to go through blackberry brambles to flee the terror of poss. prison.

This is background information for you to understand the severity of her situation. she was more than willing to show up for the court and face whatever outcome that best fit the crime, so to speak, but prison for who knows how long is a real threat to her well-being. She would rather die than go to jail.

So here is the current issue. She was supposed to be in court this morning, she is in true and absolute distress and can not. Her attorney has said that because she will not appear that he has no further obligation to represent her. I would think that the lawyer who has been paid, including fees for a court appearance should at least present the case to the judge and represent her to his best ability. The judge has not heard the evidence nor her willingness to comply but not be jailed.

She is not a threat to society. She pays taxes. She is in a sense a political prisoner and the jails are filled with them.

So does her lawyer have a obligation legally to appear in court for her when she has asked that he do so, in her behalf before the court and has paid him. At this time he is screaming at her saying that he has no client, because she will not appear and he has no further obligation.

She is terrified obviously

Asked on 11/07/13, 8:31 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Zadik Shapiro Law Offices of C. Zadik Shapiro

For a felony the defendant must be present at the initial hearing. The attorney cannot appear without the defendant. If the attorney does appear the court has no duty to listen to the attorney. If the attorney was only paid to go to court once and since he was unable to make a general appearance he has no further duty to the client or to the court unless further arrangements are made with the client.

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Answered on 11/08/13, 6:42 pm

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