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Co-defendant Statements

Co-defendant Statements

In a California criminal case, a lawyer may move to suppress statements made by the defendant. In some cases, your defense attorney may also need to fight to suppress statements made by a codefendant. Allowing the statements into evidence unchallenged may violate your rights and severely damage your defense. The skilled California defense lawyers from The Kavinoky Law Firm are well-versed in every aspect of moving to have codefendant statements suppressed.

Defense lawyers use pretrial motions, also called motions in limine, to start the process of challenging a statement by a codefendant. A motion is an official request to the court to take a specific action. Each side will submit a brief that outlines their argument. The judge will then hold a hearing to consider the arguments and rule on the matter.

In cases where two or more codefendants are being tried together, a statement or confession made by a codefendant generally can’t be used against you if that individual doesn’t testify. Under what’s known as the Aranda-Bruton rule, your right to confront your accuser could be violated if your defense lawyer can’t cross-examine your codefendant.

Such a statement, or “declaration against penal interest,” is considered “testimonial hearsay” unless the codefendant agrees to testify. This is unlikely, since doing so would require the codefendant to waive his or her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. One exception to this is when the codefendant is unavailable to testify and the defense has already had an opportunity to cross-examine that individual.

The courts have ruled that in a joint trial, introducing a statement made by a codefendant and telling the jury to disregard it in regards to other defendants will likely violate those individuals’ rights. Merely hearing the statement will be prejudicial even if jurors are told to disregard it.

The Aranda-Bruton rule only applies to joint trials, but even when cases are being tried separately, your defense lawyer can fight to have a statement by a codefendant excluded from evidence if the individual isn’t testifying. Although there are exceptions, generally the same right to confront your accuser applies.

Your defense lawyer may also challenge statements made by a codefendant under the same principles that might be used to challenge your own statements. For example, if your codefendant asked for a lawyer and police continued their questioning without granting that request, that person’s statements may be inadmissible at your trial.  These types of Miranda violations can also apply to codefendant statements.

If you’re facing a California criminal charge and have one or more codefendants, your defense lawyer can challenge the admission of any statements that may incriminate you. To learn more about challenging codefendant statements in criminal cases, please contact a knowledgeable California defense attorney from The Kavinoky Law Firm today at 1-800-NO-CUFFS for a free consultation.