Can two people use the same defense attorney?

What if you and a friend (or husband/wife) got arrested together and charged with the same crime?  Can you use the same defense attorney to represent both of you?

 

The short answer is “maybe”.

If there is no overlap (such as you blame him and he blames you), one attorney *may* be able to represent you both. You’ll need to discuss it with the attorney you select and will need a written waiver of conflict signed by all.

Where this gets tricky is if there is even the potential of a conflict of interest.  If the two of you either have different charges, if one made a statement and the other didn’t (especially if one defendant implicates the other), then one attorney probably cannot represent both people.  How could one attorney effectively represent one defendant to the fullest if it meant a worse outcome for the other?

If there is no conflict, you’re still probably better off with your own lawyer.

Why?

Let’s look at a criminal prosecution. It’s the police department (and all their resources) that investigate.  They forward the case to the District Attorney’s office.  If charges are filed, it’s now the DA’s office (and all THEIR resources too) against you.  Why not do everything you can to level the playing field?  Even if two defendants have the same defense, sometimes it’s very, very advantageous to have two defense attorneys.  That means two lawyers examining the prosecution’s case for weaknesses.  Two lawyers to strategize on your defense.  If the case proceeds to trial, it’s two cross examinations of every witness.  Two closing arguments.  Two, two, two.  Why not double the defense?

To discuss your case (or you and your co-defendant’s), give me a call or send an email.

Joe Dane

714.532.3600

info@joedane.com

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