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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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