I'm writing a drama and need some help. Can a criminal lawyer in a rape case switch sides from the person they are representing to the victim if they have been fired by their client?

  • Note that there have been cases where a prosecutor (or someone then employed in the prosecutor's office) subsequently represented a defendant on appeal - but I understand that this would normally be spotted by the opposing party. – Strawberry Jul 16 '18 at 16:43

No. As the defendant's lawyer, they will have been privy to privileged communications. As such, it would be unfair to the defendant if they now started prosecuting.

Also note that a victim very rarely has their own lawyer in a criminal case. The prosecution lawyer is acting for "the Crown" (essentially, "society as a whole"). (There are exceptions, if the victim is bringing a private prosecution - but this is very rare for serious cases such as rape).

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  • Thanks Martin. I'll amend my tags but this is really useful. Thank you. – Ayeesha Jul 16 '18 at 10:29
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    @Ayeesha you might also consider whether a civil action would fit your purpose better than a criminal trial, since both parties in a civil action would be represented by lawyers in private practice. The principle identified in this answer would still apply, however, so the lawyer would not be able to represent the former client's victim. Whether civil or criminal, though, there could be other kinds of relationships that might arise between the accused's former attorney and the victim or the victim's attorney. Some such relationships might be improper, but that might be fruitful in a drama. – phoog Jul 16 '18 at 15:04

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