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Can a person testify against their co defendant or is that considered a conflict of interest?

Lubbock, TX |

My nephew is involved in a case and the co defendant has already been sent to prison. He is still waiting on his trial and asked this question. Also he was granted a speedy trial in April 2012 and has not received it yet. So I would like to know how to help him.

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Attorney answers 3


Co-Defendants may testify against each other or even in favor of each other. It is not uncommon for co-defendants to testify against each other. However, there must be something more than the co-defendant's testimony to convict. And even though the court may have sustained a motion for speedy trial, is still no guarantee he will receive a speedy trial.

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Well it doesn't sound like he got his speedy trial. His attorney should file a motion to dismiss based on a violation of his right to a speedy trial. Of course if his attorney has been the cause of any resets in the case, he may not be able to make this argument. And yes, co-defendants testify against each other all the time.

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In Texas, the rule is that co-defendants can testify against the defendant. The more technical term for this is that an "accomplice" can testify against a defendant.

However, unless the testimony of the accomplice is "corroborated", it cannot be considered as evidence in the case for any purpose.

"Corroborated" does not mean that each and every thing the accomplice says is supported by some other piece of evidence in the case. And, it does not even mean that ANYTHING the accomplice says is supported by another piece of evidence in the case.

What "corroborated" means is that there is some other evidence that tends to tie the defendant to the case in a way that tends to make the defendant appear guilty.

This other evidence, however, does not have to be proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Rather, proof beyond a reasonable doubt can be built out of what the accomplice says plus the other evidence.

Yes, it is complicated. But, if read step by step, not that confusing.

As far as the delay in getting to trial, 8 to 10 months is, unfortunately, not that long a delay in a criminal case.

Answers on Avvo are for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. No attorney / client relationship is created by providing this answer. For specific advice about your situation, you should consult a competent attorney of your choosing.

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