If I am a key witness to my friend’s case, is it unwise to share the same attorney?

Is there a large risk that the attorney, which my friend hired, would steer me in the wrong direction to protect his other client’s interests? At the moment it does not seem necessary to go out and hire my own attorney, as I am merely seeking advice on my statement. But I can foresee larger problems in the future and would like to know if sharing the attorney is a mistake?

Asked on October 20, 2011 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Sharing a lawyer is almost always a VERY bad idea. It is almost never the case that two people's interests are precisely identical, and is perhaps most evidenct or most dramatically so in criminal cases. For example, anything you say which incriminates you in some fashion could possible help exonerate your friend; even if you would incriminate yourself on an unrelated matter, that could possibly give your friend something to bargain with (e.g. he agrees to testify against you in exchange for a lighter sentence). If there is *anything* that could be damaging to you in what you might say--e.g. you are in any way involved in any crimimal activity, or did something which could be construed as being involved in criminal activity--do not take the advice of a lawyer who's trying  to help someone else beat their own criminal charges.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.