Trying Co-Defendants Together


Many times prosecutors want to try all co-defendants at once. Oftentimes, one of the defendants wants their severed from the rest if they believe that they will be prejudiced by being lumped together with the other co-defendants.

Criminal Rule 8 permits joinder of defendants if they allegedly participated in the same transaction or act or in the same series of transactions or acts constituting an offense or in the same course of conduct.

Criminal Rule 14 governs relief from prejudicial joinder. If it appears that the defendant is prejudiced by the joinder of defendants for trial, the court shall order severance of defendants. Also, the trial court must order the prosecutor to deliver to the judge for inspection any statements or confessions made by the defendants which the state intends to introduce at trial.

The decision to sever rests in the trial court’s sound discretion. The defendant who seeks severance must affirmatively show prejudice by joinder. Defense counsel should always research Ohio cases where prejudice has been shown and argue the similarities between the current case and the ones that survived on appeal.