Can the same law firm represent co defendants?

It can be difficult for an attorney to represent the two co-defendants competently and diligently as needed. The United States Bar Association advises against representing co-defendants, but there is no general law prohibiting this. When two or more people are charged with the same crime, they are considered “co-accused”. They can be tried together or have separate judgments.

Either way, the same lawyer can represent the co-defendants. This type of “joint representation” isn't necessarily a problem, unless co-defendants have conflicting interests that make it difficult for the lawyer to organize an equally effective legal defense for all of them. When that is true, joint representation could violate the co-defendant's constitutional right to the effective assistance of an attorney, which is part of the guarantee of a fair criminal trial enshrined in the Sixth Amendment. The information provided on this site does not constitute legal advice, does not constitute a lawyer recommendation service, and no attorney-client or confidential relationship is or should be established through the use of of the site.

If you are considering signing a waiver to allow joint representation with another co-defendant, be sure to thoroughly discuss the risks with your attorney, so that you understand how joint representation may affect your defense. They may prefer that particular lawyer or believe that sharing an attorney will save them money in legal fees. This qualification means that a large number of the lawyer's colleagues rate him at the highest level of professional excellence for his legal knowledge, communication skills and ethical standards. Under the rules that apply to federal criminal cases, courts must consider the possibility of a conflict in all cases involving joint representation, even if the co-defendants do not object.

A real conflict of interest in joint representation can arise when co-defendants have different needs and interests, and the lawyer cannot defend one of them without harming the other. Reviewers can be anyone who consults or hires an attorney, including in-house attorneys, corporate executives, small business owners, and individuals. If you face potential jail time for criminal charges, but you can't afford to hire your own lawyer, the court will normally appoint a public defender or private attorney to represent you free of charge. Even if the joint representation presents a conflict of interest, the co-defendants may want to be represented by the same lawyer.

Courts must also explain to co-defendants that they are entitled to the effective assistance of an attorney, including representation by independent attorneys.

Dawn Launiere
Dawn Launiere

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