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Would it be appropriate for the defendants’ attorney to file a cross-claim on behalf of one of the defendants?

Dayton, OH |
Attorney answers 4


Cross-claims are a civil pleading and are not really applicable to a criminal case. If you are charged with a crime and your defense is that your co-defendant did it, then that will be your defense. It will be up to the prosecutor to pursue the case against your co-defendant.



Your use of the term "cross-claim" is a little confusing in a criminal case. As my colleague indicated in his answer, "cross-claims" are really used only in civil cases -- i.e. lawsuits. You can't file a civil pleading like that in a criminal case. Now if what you really meant to describe was: "Can the defendant's attorney point the finger at one of the [other] defendants?" then the answer to that is absolutely, YES! This happens routinely in multi-Defendant cases, where liability for the crimes changes from person to person. If this is what you meant, then YES, the Defendant's attorney can and should raise the fact that another Defendant did much more of the crime than your friend did. You should be aware, however, that even if the facts spill out that way in Court, it might still not be enough to get your friend completely off the hook. There are lots of intricate facts and details that I don't know, so it's impossible to be accurate without knowing that important information.

The bottom line, as suggested by all lawyers who responded to this question have said, is HIRE THE BEST, MOST-EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER YOU CAN TODAY!

I hope this answered your question. Good luck in the case and beyond!

Atty. Dennis A. DiMartino

The above information is shared for educational and discussion purposes only. No Attorney-Client relationship is intended or established through your reliance on the information provided. If your legal rights could be impacted by using this information, you are urged to seek legal counsel before taking action. Atty. Dennis A. DiMartino 1032 Boardman-Canfield Road Suite 103 Youngstown, OH 44512-4238 330.629.9030 Ext. 111 Phone 330.629.9036 FAX


Your question is listed as criminal defense. I agree with Attorney Bangerter that cross-claims do not exist in criminal cases. For example I often encounter clients who are charged with Assault or Domestic Violence that are mad because they got charged and the alleged victim wasn't. I always tell clients to worry less about being vindictive and charging the other person. My job as the defense attorney is to win your case. If both parties get charged and both are convicted and get sentenced to 180 days in jail or worse then that doesn't make the client feel any better. If you are charged with a crime you should hire a good criminal defense attorney to try and win your case. Good luck.

Attorney Chris Beck
Beck Law Office, L.L.C.
Beavercreek, Ohio

The responses of Attorney Chris Beck to any questions posed on Avvo do NOT establish an Attorney-client relationship. Attorney Beck is available for private hire and consultation for a fee. Only after Attorney Beck is retained as counsel, or agrees to discuss this matter with you privately, shall he be legally deemed to be your Attorney. His responses herein are an attempt to assist persons temporarily based upon the very extremely limited amount of information provided by the questioner


I suspect that the asker wants to know, even though his terminology is incorrect, whether or not a defendant can bring criminal charges against a complaining witness. First, this is not something that the defendant's attorney would do; the defendant himself would have to meet with the court's warrant clerk and sign an affidavit, under oath, in support of a criminal complaint. The warrant clerk has discretion as to whether or not to file the charge, and the prosecutor also has discretion as to whether to prosecute it. The goal is to get a mutual dismissal, not dual convictions.

Having said all of that, it is a move that often works in "beer bottle" cases. But every, case is different, as is every judge and prosecutor, so don't even think about doing this without consulting your lawyer first. Finally, it is most effective right after the incident happens...the more time that goes by, the likelier the clerk and/or prosecutor will see the new charge as a transparent attempt at retaliation.

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