If you choose to speak to a defense attorney about legal advice on your criminal charges, you may be protected by the Attorney-Client Privilege. This privilege allows you to communicate the facts of your case in confidentiality, without fear that the attorney may tell the police or the prosecution.
Many people who’ve never spoken to an attorney before are unsure how much they should say. This privilege was created to let you to be honest with the attorney, so that you can get the full legal assistance you need and so the attorney can be fully prepared to help you.
If you’re facing criminal charges, you can connect with a criminal defense lawyer today. Simply fill out our free case evaluation form or call 877-445-1059 to speak with a criminal lawyer in your area.
Elements of Attorney-Client Privilege
The attorney-client privilege is one of several privileges established by common law. Certain privileges also protect some communications between spouses, priest-penitent, and doctor-patient.
These types of communication are generally protected under law, and an attorney cannot be forced to break the privilege under most circumstances. Attorneys also have an ethical obligation to keep privileged communication privileged.
Privilege allows you to speak honestly about the charges you face, and it may help the attorney prepare a more successful defense.
For example, if you confess to the attorney that you committed the crime you are charged with, the attorney may choose to focus on the police investigation in your defense. If you confess that you were present, but did not commit the crime, the attorney may be able to use that to your advantage.
Each state has its own statutes about when attorney-client privilege begins and when it ends. However, privilege is generally believed to exist when:
- the person asserting privilege is a client (or is seeking to become a client)
- the other person is an attorney acting in such a role
- the communication is not extended to a third party
- the communication is made regarding legal advice, opinion or services
- the privilege may only be claimed or waived by the client
Attorney-client privilege may also extend to employees of the attorney, such as paralegals and receptionists in the attorney’s office.
Some states allow privilege to extend to the client’s spouse or other family member who is present at the time, but not all. You can discuss this with your defense attorney.
Privilege may apply to any communication you have with your attorney, from the time you contact the attorney about representation, through any court proceedings, and even after your case has ended.
In most states, privilege applies to all types of communication that fall under the guidelines listed above, including verbal communication; email; phone communication; and written case files. However, some types of evidence may fall outside of privilege.
A few types of communication are not considered privileged. For example, if you ask an attorney for advice on committing a crime, or provide information about a future crime, the attorney has an obligation to report it.
Discuss Criminal Charges with a Defense Attorney
If you’re facing criminal charges, you don’t need to fear speaking with a criminal lawyer. An attorney can help protect your rights and prepare your defense – but only with your help. Attorney-client privilege lets you be honest without being afraid.
Connect with an attorney today. Simply fill out our free case evaluation form or call 877-445-1059 to speak with an attorney in your area and begin your attorney-client relationship.
The above summary of attorney-client privilege is for informational purposes only and is not all-inclusive or legal advice. For the latest information on these laws, speak to a local criminal defense lawyer in your state.