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


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.

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