Over 100 Not Guilty Verdicts At Trial | Over 2,000 Dismissals

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Co-Defendant Cases

Criminal Cases with Co-Defendants

If two or more people have been charged with the same crime, it means that they are now co-defendants. When going through the legal process, they can either have separate trials or have them together, depending on the case.

When going through the criminal process, co-defendants can choose to have the same attorney for the crimes they’ve both been accused of. This type of joint representation is allowed in the courts. However, if there are any conflicting interests between the two or more defendants, then it could pose an issue for the attorney who must provide equally effective legal help in their defense.

It is important to go over the ins and outs of co-defendants to have a better understanding of how a case can be altered and to find out the best way to defend your case.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Getting hit with a criminal charge can be an extremely stressful situation. You may end up feeling lost without anywhere to turn. If this is the case, your first move should be to reach out to an experienced defense attorney in Tallahassee, FL. Receiving quality legal help can make the difference between getting charged with a crime alongside a co-defendant charge or walking away free without legal complications and hang-ups. When dealing with criminal charges, your best bet is to seek out the best possible legal help. At Pumphrey Law Firm, Don Pumphrey and his team have the skill and determination to defend your case. Call (850) 681-7777 today and receive a free consultation regarding your case.

Defining a Co-Defendant

Under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.150, a joinder of defendants—or co-defendants—occurs when two or more defendants are charged under the same indictment or information on which they are tried when:

  • Each defendant is charged with the accountability for each of the charged offenses, and;
  • Each defendant is charged with conspiracy, and the other defendants are also charged with one or more offenses that were committed in furtherance of the conspiracy; or
  • If the conspiracy has not been charged and all of the defendants are not charged with each count, it is alleged that several offenses that were charged were part of a common scheme or plan.

Reviewing the Impact of Co-Defendants in a Case

When multiple people have been accused of the same crime and are co-defendants, there are a few issues that can arise. The biggest concern is if, or when, one defendant confesses to the police. There are then issues around the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

A defendant is entitled to the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and not be forced to take the stand at his or her own trial. When two co-defendants go to court and both elect to use their Fifth Amendment right to not take the stand, it can cause complications if any confession is made. For instance, it would only be the detective who took the confession of the other defendant who can provide that evidence in court.

For the defendant who did not confess, they are unable to confront the co-defendant that accused them. This is because of a rule within co-defendant cases, which covers the severance of defendants to give them separate trials to not be tried together by the same jury.

Common Cases Involving Co-Defendants

For a case to include co-defendants, there must have been several people charged with the commission of the same crime. The following list includes several examples of cases that can have co-defendants:

How Having a Co-Defendant Can Affect Your Case

Under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.152, dealing with the severance of defendants, it covers the event in which a statement from one defendant causes an implication with the other defendant. If this scenario occurs, then the state attorney’s office will have to decide between the following:

  • A joint trial with the co-defendants where the statements are not used at all.
  • A joint trial where the statement has been redacted or edited to the point where only the confession is stated to the jury. The part that implicates the other defendant would then be left out. The detective must make sure that he or she leaves out the part of the redacted testimony. This can be further complicated if the statement was made on a recording where it is difficult to redact.
  • Separating the co-defendants from one another to have a separate trial for each defendant. The issues that arise with this instance are with speedy trial rights or choosing which defendant should go on trial first.

Ethical Considerations for Attorneys Representing Co-Defendants

Rule 4-1.7(b) of the rules regulating the Florida Bar state that “a lawyer shall not represent a client if the lawyer’s exercise of independent professional judgment in the representation of that client may be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client or to a third person or by the lawyer’s own interest, unless:

(1) the lawyer reasonably believes the representation will not be adversely affected; and (2) the client consents after consultation.”

An impassable conflict can arise if the testimony of the co-defendants will differ substantiality, they co-defendants are seeking substantially different case dispositions, or results, and if the lawyer cannot represent one defendant without materially limiting their responsibilities to be the ultimate advocate to the other as well. These ethical considerations are so grave that many ethics opinions advise that a lawyer should ordinarily decline to represent co-defendants unless the interests and motivations of the co-defendants are substantially similar as to make joint representation equally advantageous to both parties.

Finding a Defense Attorney for Co-Defendant Cases in Florida

If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime, your first move should be to reach out to a skilled criminal defense attorney in your area. If there is a co-defendant to the accused charge, it is especially important to receive legal advice on how to proceed through court and whether the trials should be held together or separately. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have worked with co-defendants in the past and knows what it takes to defend your case. Our team has the experience and skill required to provide the best legal advice today. Call (850) 681-7777 and receive a free consultation today.

Written by Karissa Key

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