Facing Criminal Charges? You Need Confidentiality
If you've been charged with a crime, hiring a criminal defense attorney is a critical move. Criminal matters can be extremely serious, even if it's a first-time offense. Being honest with your attorney will only help them represent you better and there's plenty of protection for clients when speaking to lawyers. Read on so that you can better understand how the attorney-client privilege works.
Understanding the Power of the Attorney-Client Privilege
Wise authors long ago forged the legal concepts still used today. They understood the chilling effect lack of disclosure could have when dealing with a legal defense. That is why you can trust the attorney-client privilege to speak with almost any lawyer about almost anything and know that your communications stop with them. Lawyers may never be compelled by a court of law to reveal what was discussed with clients, with very few exceptions (detailed below). If you expect your lawyer to defend you properly, you must be willing to tell them everything without fear of reprisals. You can go ahead and admit guilt, for example, and that utterance will only help the lawyer to prepare a better defense for you.
Facts About the Attorney-Client Privilege
Here is what else all clients should understand about this privilege, including its limits:
- It never expires – what you say to your lawyer or their legal team can only be revealed if you die, and even then few lawyers will speak about confidential matters willingly.
- The attorney-client privilege is not just about a relationship – it follows you no matter how many lawyers you speak to. Even if you never hire them to represent you, the privilege applies.
- All forms of communication are covered. That includes verbal, written, email, texting, and more.
- One major exception to be aware of is a third-party presence. If you are speaking with your lawyer and a third-party overhears you, the privilege may be at risk. Be sure you have private conversations with your lawyer.
- As mentioned above, admissions to your lawyer are protected but that only applies to past crimes and actions. If you make utterances that may be construed as threats of future bad acts, the lawyer is compelled to report such threats to law enforcement. Clients can, however, couch things as hypothetical situations and get advice as a result rather than an arrest.
- You might strike up a casual conversation with someone who just happens to be an attorney. Whether or not what you say to them is protected depends on your intent. If you intended the communication to be privileged and were seeking advice, it might be protected. Casual conversations with lawyers, however, may not be.
If you are unsure of the level of confidentiality, ask before you speak. Talk to a criminal defense lawyer about this issue and your case as soon as possible.
If you want to learn more about confidentiality, reach out to a criminal defense lawyer for more information.