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Can one criminal defense attorney represent two defendants?

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Sometimes clients will come to us in which they are codefendants where let’s say for instance… two brothers are charged with a crime as codefendants and ask that we represent both brothers.

Normally we cannot handle both of those cases, meaning normally there is a conflict of interest between the two codefendants. Jim Story also practices with me, there are some circumstances where we can get the codefendants that there is no conflict and we could represent both brothers in say, an aggravated assault case.

Usually, in most cases the wise thing to do is for those brothers in my hypothetical, to get us to represent one of the brothers and then go to another firm to have the other brother represented. That way both of them can be represented in the fullest and there is no possibility that something could be adverse to codefendant or the other.

Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about…two brothers may come in and tell us, “Hey, neither one of us were involved in this thing and we need your help with this aggravated assault—we didn’t shoot anybody.” Well, six months into our representation, one of the brothers may say “I shot him.” Well, then it becomes a very difficult circumstance where we’re already tied to the hip with people who have said they’re not guilty, and now one of them is claiming that they were responsible for it.

That can create a conflict, which would prevent us from representing those two brothers in our same firm, so it’s almost in all instances best to get separate counsel when you are codefendants when you’re bothers or husband and wife or anything along those lines to make sure you get properly represented.

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