Explain why most attorneys don't represent criminal defendants. Most attorneys practice civil law because it's more lucrative, they have greater prestige, and they have fewer problems dealing with clients. Compare and contrast the 3 systems to provide indigent court-appointed attorneys. The reasons why an attorney should not represent criminal co-defendants are twofold.
First, there are almost always conflicts between criminal co-defendants. Some conflicts arise because a defendant decides to “turn against another”. Examples include situations where a defendant wants to testify against another or where a defendant confesses and his confession involves the other defendant. In these situations, it is clear that the lawyer cannot maintain his duty of loyalty to both customers.
Many people accused of a crime are concerned about their lawyers' judgment and even whether an attorney may refuse to defend them. The short answer to this is yes, a lawyer can flatly refuse to defend someone. While attorneys may refuse to defend someone, they are unlikely to do so based on whether they are guilty or innocent. A second reason why an attorney should avoid representing a co-defendant is because it's nearly impossible to obtain a valid “exemption from conflict”.
A criminal defense attorney must know all aspects of a case and be able to give a voice to his client so that he can be heard in court. Approximately four out of five criminal defendants do not have the means to hire an attorney and rely on public defenders or court-appointed attorneys. Without adequate public defense, most people who are part of the criminal justice system face the full force of governmental power with nothing more than illusory rights. Defendants awaiting trial who cannot afford an attorney languish behind bars, waiting for the legal representation to which they are entitled, because public defenders are faced with an unsustainable workload.
Third, the lawyer must warn co-defendants that they should consult with outside counsel before signing any waiver. A good defense attorney analyzes the case from an outside perspective with all the facts to ensure that they gather as much evidence as possible on your behalf. If an attorney were to discuss their client's case with someone, they could jeopardize the entire outcome of the case against them. However, it's nearly impossible for an attorney to provide joint representation in criminal matters without violating the rule.
On Gideon's 50th anniversary, former Attorney General Eric Holder observed that “he often witnessed the devastating consequences of inadequate representation, including wrongful convictions, unfair sentences, and the corrosion of integrity and trust in the judicial system. An attorney must always comply with client-attorney protection laws, but a client may waive their right to keep their information confidential. If you are in California and have a criminal defense case where you need help, you can trust that Exum Law Offices will fight for you. If you think you may be at risk of receiving criminal charges or are already facing them, it's a good idea to have an experienced attorney represent you.