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Double Trouble: Issues in Cases with Co-defendants


In some criminal cases, more than one defendant is charged with the same criminal conduct. You may have been out with a friend and things got hairy, and at the end of the night you find yourselves both in cuffs. This is where the term “guilty by association” comes from, as you may find yourself charged for conduct that is the fault of the other person. Its these times where you may find someone you thought was a “friend” isn’t a friend at all.

Even if you didn’t do the criminal act, you may be charged as a co-conspirator or accomplice in the commission of the crime. An accomplice is someone who acts with the intent of promoting or facilitating an offense, or helps someone else in its commission. For example, if your friend is going to break into somebodies house and steal something, and you act as lookout, you would still be liable for the crime of burglary. As an accomplice or coconspirator, you may also find yourself liable for acts that occur in commission of the offense that weren’t originally part of the plan. A good example of this is the felony murder rule, where a coconspirator kills someone in the commission of a felony (like a bank robbery). In a case like that the others involved in robbing will be on the hook for a murder charge as well.

Codefendants are often tried together. It may be tempting to attempt to retain the same attorney, but in many cases this is impossible. While you and your codefendant may have been on the same team before, when it comes time for a trial, often the primary defense comes down to pointing the finger at the other person.

Cases with co-defendants have special issues well before trial. Police know that each of the accused in a criminal case is looking for any way out of criminal responsibility. Some co-defendants are known to give full confessions implicating either the other person or both parties just at the mere promise of a favorable recommendation from the arresting officer to the District Attorney. One defendant may negotiate a deal involving use immunity for their testimony in the case, leaving the other defendant out to dry.

If you’ve gotten yourself into a tough situation or had the misfortune of being involved with the wrong people, now is the time to team up with someone who really has your back. Attorney Frank Walker is a Nationwide Top 100 Criminal Defense attorney who will fight for you in your criminal case. Walker Law offers affordable rates and top notch criminal defense! Lines are open 24/7 at (412) 212-3878.