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Did my attorney purposely go forward with trial?

Roseville, CA |

I hired an attorney to get my boyfriend the best possible deal. He did not work with the case to get my boyfriend separated from his codefendant so he was unable to take a deal due to the co-d wanting to go to trial. I paid a flat rate for which only lasted 2 months and now he wants more for trial when we have discussed since the beginning to stay away from trial & get separated from the co-d.

Attorney Answers 5


Do-defendant cases can be problematic. Typically, DA's make a package deal and both co-defendants have to take it or no deal and the case goes forward unless there are issues as to one of the co-defendants. In addition, it is unlikely that one co-defendant can be severed from the case if the charges stem from the same facts and circumstances. Initial retainer fees in felony cases typically cover through a preliminary hearing. There is a separate fee for trial.

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I agree with Mr. Kaizuka. It is very difficult to get co-defendant cases separated. Rather than split a two defendant case, the Cal Supreme Court has stated that in certain instances, separate juries should be impaneled. The DA has the right to try two defendants together if the case involves the same facts and circumstances. They are not required to try two different defendants at two separate trials if the evidence is the same.

The information and legal suggestions made herein do not in any way create an attorney-client relationship. The responses provided herein discuss general principles of law and should not be relied upon by the asker in making legal decisions. Only an attorney who has met with the asker and fully reviewed the facts and circumstances of the asker's individual case should be relied upon for legal advice. If you find my suggestions helpful, please mark the appropriate box as helpful.

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Severance is rarely granted where the charges against the co-ds arise out of the same crime, involving same witnesses, similar evidence, etc. In not in your lawyer's power to get them severed IMKO.

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From the facts you state, the attorney did nothing improper. Attorneys can't guarantee results. They only guarantee they will practice ethically and work as hard as they can. As the other attorneys point out, severance is rarely granted and co-defendant cases almost always involve "packaged offers" where either all take the deal or none can. The reason for this is simple. In a two defendant case, if one defendant takes a deal and is off the case, the remaining defendant's counsel will blame the remaining defendant as being solely culpable for the criminal act and given that the co-defendant plead to the charge, the jury may well believe counsel. Prosecutors understand this game and therefore package deals. As for the fee, it is customary that private attorney charge two fees: one pre-trial and one for trial. Paying for a lawyer in a criminal case is not like hiring someone to build you a deck or something; guarantees are unethical in criminal defense. Good luck.

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If the attorney flatly refused your boyfriend's request to try to get him separated from his co-defendant so he could take a plea and/or truly did nothing to try to implement his wishes, then he committed misconduct. However, I agree with Mr. Kaizuka, Mr. Farina, Mr. Kaman and Mr. Dinakar that the most likely scenario is that the attorney was unable to get the co-defendants separated. As each of them has said, it is rare for this to happen. An attorney has no power to compel a court to sever defendants. As Mr. Farina pointed out, the court can usually resolve an conflicts of interest by impaneling separate juries or taking other action.

As for the fees, again, I agree with the other attorneys. It is standard in felony cases for an attorney to charge a flat fee for representation through the preliminary hearing and another fee for trial.

The response above is not intended as legal advice. This response does not create an attorney-client relationship. Legal questions can only be fully answered through consultation with an attorney to whom you give full and accurate details. Anything you post here is not confidential and is not protected by the attorney-client relationship. It is highly recommended that you seek advice from a criminal defense attorney licensed in your jurisdiction by setting up a confidential meeting.

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