You and a friend were charged with committing a crime together, but when you retained an attorney he said he would ask the judge to separate the cases and have yours tried alone. There are several common reasons why an attorney might make this request.
- The evidence in the case might point more heavily toward your co-defendant than it does toward you. If your cases are together, the jury will have a hard time keeping that in mind, and it will make a lot of work for your attorney to keep pointing it out. It is better in some cases to have separate trials so that much of the evidence linked to your charge-partner cannot be used in your trial.
Force the State to Make a Choice
- It is much less expensive for the state to prepare for one trial than it is for two. If the state has less evidence against you than your co-defendant, your attorney might try to get them separated with the hope that the state will drop your case and focus on convicting the co-defendant.
- If you hired an attorney and your co-defendant is going with a public defender, your attorney might not be pleased to keep the cases together. Public defenders can do a good job but are typically overloaded with cases. Your paid attorney could end up doing the majority of the work for your case, thereby preparing your co-defendant’s case by default. Getting them separated means he is only working for you.
- A co-defendant whose criminal record is much worse than yours can be a liability to you. An attorney who sees this difference in your records might try to separate the cases so you are not tainted by your charge-partner’s past.
You Decide to Help The State
- Deciding to turn state’s evidence or testify against your co-defendant is a personal choice that should be made after discussing it with your attorney. If you decide to do this, the cases need to be separated for obvious reasons.
Final thoughts: There is nothing noble about going down with the ship where prison is involved. If your attorney believes it is in your best interest to separate the cases, give his advice careful consideration.