What is a co-defendant in a drug case? | Ray Lopez, Criminal Defense Attorney

A co-defendant, in any criminal case, is another person who has also been charged by the State or the Government in your case. Often the co-defendant is charged with the same thing as you. You can be charged with more charges or less charges than your co-defendant.

It’s important to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer in any drug case in which you have co-defendant(s). Early on, your defense lawyer can contact the co-defendant’s attorney in an attempt to find a common strategy or to find out if the co-defendant plans on pleading guilty and testifying against you. This is known as flipping – a defendant testifies against another defendant, usually for the person “flipping” to get a reduced sentence.

Another strategy, that is still relatively new, is to have all co-defendant’s lawyers create and sign a Joint Defense Agreement. This usually calls for a lawyer to tell the other co-defendant’s lawyers that they are going to plead guilty and cooperate with the Government.

Your role in the offense is a big thing. In other words, in a case involving co-defendants one person may appear to be more guilty than the others to the State or Government prosecutor. For instance, if you drove someone somewhere to conduct a drug transaction but did not actually do the transaction, the Government may see you as less culpable.

In any case, NEVER speak to a co-defendant about the case if you have already been arrested. That person is no longer your friend and can tell the State or Government lawyer things you said to them hurting your case and helping theirs. Only speak to your lawyer. Many friends and family have turned on each other in co-defendant cases in an effort to obtain a reduced sentence.

It’s important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can speak to the Government attorney about how they see your level of culpability. If you’ve been charged with a crime or have been as a co-defendant in a drug case, call the office of Ray Lopez at 813-221-4455.

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Ray Lopez has practiced since 1990, with prior experience as a Hillsborough County assistant State attorney and lawyer for the Tampa Police Department. He handles all criminal charges, from traffic violations and misdemeanors to serious felonies and federal drug charges. He practices in all state and federal courts of the Tampa Bay area and throughout Florida, as well as criminal appeals, juvenile court, administrative hearings, and civil forfeiture proceedings.

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