two parties on trial

Let’s say a crime is committed where there are two sides, both doing something illegal, but not the same crime. I guess a good example would be bribery. The briber, and the person being bribed, are both committing an illegal act.

Do they have to be tried together? If not, then if one was convicted, then the other one would be convicted by default. But how can they be tried together for different crimes?

IANAL, but in your bribery example, the two would not be tried together. More than likely, one would plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for testifying against the other.
It seems fairly rare for 2 people to be tried together even when charged with the same act.

They are not tried together. Both sides did something illegal, so they will both be accused and tried separately. This does, on the other hand, not prevent evidence collected in one trial from being used as evidence in the other trial, or from one of the both parties from being heard as witness in the other party’s trial; but legally there are two separarate trials with separate accuses and separate verdicts.

If two men rob a bank together, they USUALLY are tried together. If one of the parties demands a separate trial, then a hearing is held on that one issue alone. There had better be a good reason.

In the case of Charles Manson, there were 3 co-defendants. Manson was being tried for both the Tate and LaBianca killings. At least one of the co-defendants was absent for the Tate murder (or was it LaBianca), so she was only charged with 2 counts of murder (for the LaBiancas). Manson and the other 2 girls were charged with 7 counts of murder. That defendant’s attorney was only allowed to cross examine witnesses relating to the LaBiancas.

IANAL? I am not a lawyer?

It sounds funny that you would sooner admit to being anal than admit to being a lawyer.

But wouldn’t the conviction of one unfairly influence the judicial process of the other trial? The lawyer of the second couldn’t be involved in the first trial, and if the first guy’s lawyer did a lousy job, the second guy is screwed.

In general, the rule is that persons charged with participating in contemporaneous and related acts or occurrences or in a series of acts or occurrences constituting an offense or offenses, may be tried jointly unless such joint trial would constitute prejudice to a defendant.

What kinds of things constitute prejudice? A classic example is a confession by one of the defendants that implicates the other. If the confession is admitted into evidence as against the one who made it, and it includes statements that inculpate the other, the jury may well consider that as evidence against the non-confessing accused. Interestingly enough, IIRC, this principle became codified in California law after a jewelry store robbery joint trial was held, and one confession was used against both defendents. The trial judge? Joseph A. Wapner, years before his People’s Court stint…

Anything, in general, that is evidence at a joint trial must be admissible against both defendents, or, at the least, be admissible 404(b) evidence – other bad acts that are uncharged but admissible to show a common plan, scheme, or motive.

  • Rick