Criminal Defense: Co-defendant cases

Posted on Posted in Accomplice, Co-Defendant

Result of Acquittal of Co-defendant

The acquittal of one accomplice or co-conspirator does not bar conviction of another. Standefer v U.S. (1980) 447 US 10; People v Summersville (1995) 34 CA4th 1062;  People v Palmer (2001) 24 C4th 856.

Under Penal Code 1100, the court may grant an acquittal of a co-defendant if there is not enough evidence to hold that particular defendant to answer.  The co-defendant may still be a witness in the trial either for or against the witness.  If the court grants the acquittal during a trial, the co-defendant may not be retried.  The acquittal granted by a court does not mean the person is factually innocent.  It only means that the court dismissed the charges against the co-defendant.


Statements Made by Co-defendant

A qualified officer may relate a non-testifying codefendant’s out-of-court confession that incriminates the defendant, as long as the magistrate finds it reliable. People v Miranda (2000) 23 C4th 340.

A defendant may challenge the admissibility of a statement made by a co-defendant outside of the court on the grounds that it was involuntary, if the statement goes against the interest of the defendant.  The defendant is able to introduce evidence that the statement was involuntary.  People v Johnson (1989) 47 C3d 1194, 1226. People v Jones (1980) 105 CA3d 572, 581.

However, a co-defendant witness’s testimony is subject to suppression only when the trial testimony itself, as opposed to pretrial statements that were allegedly coerced, is the product of continuing coercion.  The non-testifying defendant must prove that the statement’s admission would deprive the defendant of a fair trial. People v Badgett (1995) 10 C4th 330, 344; People v Douglas (1990) 50 C3d 468, 500.


Statements Made By Non-Codefendant

The defense may seek immunity of a witness they seek to have testify in favor of the defendant.  The defense must file a written motion with the court to seek the immunity, and the court has full discretion whether to grant the immunity.  The attorney will include in the motion an offer of proof that the immunity granted will not harm the prosecution’s case, that the expected testimony is clearly exculpatory, and that the testimony is essential to the defense’s case.  People v Hunter (1989) 49 C3d 957, 974; People v DeFreitas (1983) 140 CA3d 835, 837.


Evidence Obtained Through Co-Defendant

When a defendant claims that evidence at trial, such as a murder weapon, is the “fruit” of unlawful police coercion of a co-defendant, the defendant must show some connection between the evidence and the coercion that makes the evidence unreliable. People v Lee (2002) 95 CA4th 772, 788.


Contact the Law Office of Stephanie M. Arrache, a criminal defense firm, if you have any questions about a Co-defendant case.

Law Office of Stephanie M. Arrache

A Criminal Defense Firm

PO Box 3297

Palm Springs, CA 92262

Office: (760) 237-8295

Cell: (760) 668-8295


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