Joint Representation: Can One Attorney Represent All Defendants Charged with the Same Crime?
In mid August, three individuals appeared to burglarize a Deerfield Beach home. They were caught on video by the home’s surveillance system around 2 pm in the afternoon. On the video, it appears that the men are stealing a television, and while two of them are masked, one is not. Currently, the suspects remain unidentified but since one of the individuals did not have his face covered, it is likely a matter of time before someone recognizes him and turns him in to the authorities.
Where three people are accused of committing the same crime, you might think that it makes sense to hire one attorney to defend all three individuals at the same time. After all, wouldn’t it be more efficient and cost less to hire one attorney rather than three? This type of representation is called “joint representation” and it is rarely considered a good practice.
In Most Situations Joint Representation is Not the Best Option
Imagine that the three men in the story above decide to hire one attorney to defend them against burglary charges. Remember, one individual was not wearing a mask but the others were. Accordingly, the prosecution will have a more difficult time proving the identities of the masked burglars but perhaps they decide to offer the third man, whose identity is known, a plea deal to testify against the other two men. What should your lawyer do in this case?
If you were the unmasked man, your attorney may advise you to accept the plea deal and testify against the other two. If you are the masked men however, your attorney should try to discredit any testimony or evidence presented by the third unmasked individual. This is called a conflict of interest. How can one lawyer defend all parties in this situation?
If a conflict of interest such as this arises, the judge will not likely allow the attorney to represent all of the defendants. Or the judge may require that the co-defendants waive any conflict of interest before moving forward. An experienced criminal defense attorney will advise you of this issue from the start, so that you are not left scrambling for a new attorney when it matters most.
You Need an Aggressive Criminal Defense Attorney to Be Your Advocate
In some situations, your criminal defense lawyer may jointly represent co-defendants, but only where a conflict does not exist or where the defendants waive the conflict. Joint representation may result in fewer administrative fees, but you and your co-defendants will not get a “two-for-one” deal when it comes to attorney fees.
If you have been charged with a crime alongside co-defendants, it is in your best interest to find an experienced Miami criminal defense attorney to handle your case. Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. has over four decades of experience providing aggressive criminal defense for not only South Florida crimes, but federal crimes, as well. We will provide dedicated and focused counsel on your behalf, please call today if you have been charged with a crime.