What is a co-defendant in a criminal case
Co-defendant(s) in a criminal case in the District of Columbia is defined as two or more individuals who have been joined together in a criminal case facing one or more charges in Court.
Co-defendant in a criminal case in the District of Columbia
In the District of Columbia DC Code 23-311 allows two or more people to be tried together may be charged together in the same indictment or information if they are alleged to have participated in the same act or transaction or in the same series of acts or transactions constituting an offense or offenses. The co-defendants may be charged in one or more counts together or separately.
So how do you sever a trial
First in foremost in may not always be in your best interest to sever a trial where your co-defendant has a strong defense that may blend over to your case. However, there are generally 3 reasons why a co-defendant trial may be severed. (1) irreconcilable defenses where a jury will unjustifiably infer that both are guilty (2) one co-defendant is seeking to call a co-defendant as an exculpatory witness (3) where the evidence against one of the parties is de minimis. See Johnson v. United States, 398 A.2d 354, 368 (D.C. 1979) and Rhone v. United States, 125 U.S.App.D.C. 47, 48, 365 F.2d 980, 981 (1966))
Routinely in the District of Columbia prosecutors prefer to charge and try all the co-defendants together because of economics and witness testimony. So if you are charged with a crime and lumped together with other co-defendants – see if any of these apply to you. At Rollins and Chan we fight to sever co-defendant cases because it usually not to your advantage to have a co-defendant especially at a Jury trial. Want more information feel free to contact us.