Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys

What is a motion for severance and when does it apply?

On Behalf of | Feb 3, 2024 | CRIMINAL DEFENSE - White Collar Crimes

Often, “white collar” crimes involve multiple people. Some may not even know each other. It’s not uncommon for several or even dozens of people to be arrested and charged with the same or similar offenses when their roles in the overall criminal activity varied in severity. Some may be completely innocent of legal wrongdoing. 

Whether you’re facing charges along with one or multiple other defendants, you may have the right to ask for your case to be handled separately. If you had little or no role in any crime and you’re charged with others who seem to have orchestrated or at least played a significant part in it, you don’t want to face a judge or jury along with them. The same is likely true if your case is joined with that of someone with a criminal record.

That’s where the legal concept of “severance” comes in. You may be able to file a motion for severance of your case. That’s not always an easy endeavor. You must have valid legal grounds to be tried separately.

What does Texas law require?

State laws around severance vary. A motion for severance in Texas typically requires being able to show evidence that there is “clear prejudice” against another defendant that will hamper your ability to get a fair trial – like prior arrests or convictions for similar crimes. That case should be made to the judge before the start of the trial unless evidence is presented during the trial you didn’t have before that leads you to believe you have grounds for severance. 

It requires experienced legal guidance to determine whether you have grounds to make a motion for severance and to argue that motion effectively. That’s just one reason why you should never try to deal with these matters on your own. You need someone who will protect your rights and present your defense.