When you need the services of an attorney for a criminal matter, you need to be able to trust that attorney completely. Fortunately, the law is on your side in that regard. Read on to learn more about one of the most important facets of your rights to defend yourself, the attorney-client privilege.
Why does this privilege exist?
To fully understand how to best represent you, your attorney must have the complete picture. Our founding fathers realized the importance of creating a fair procedure for dealing with alleged crimes, and the ability to speak freely with your attorney is but one of the many ways that the justice system ensures that you get a fighting chance to prove your innocence.
What can you expect from this privilege?
This means that anything you say to your attorney is protected, with few exceptions. By protection, you can speak to your attorney about almost anything, and that attorney will never be forced to reveal what you said to them, no matter what. This privilege is broad and far-reaching; it is a lifetime of coverage, and it is not necessary for you to have paid that attorney or even signed a contract with that attorney for the privilege to be in effect.
When you consider the different ways that you might communicate with your attorney, it's important to know that the privilege goes beyond verbal communications. Everything that is texted, emailed, spoken about on the phone, recorded, written, drawn, and any other way you can imagine of communicating is covered. This is the ultimate secret-keeping method, but there are a few situations where you may not be covered.
Exceptions to the privilege
It's vital that you understand some major moments when your utterances may not qualify for the attorney-client privilege. If you are in doubt, it's far better to check first with your attorney before you communicate anything. Avoid the following:
1. Having a third party overhear you. While anything you say to your attorney is confidential, third parties have no such compunctions to reveal what they hear. For example, if you are overheard speaking to your attorney, the person that overhears you could be called to testify about what was said. Be careful about speaking in elevators, crowded restaurants, parties, hallways, in taxis, etc.
2. Having no intention of seeking advice. The intent is the main factor here; if you are just in a casual conversation with an attorney and have no intention of seeking advice, it is not considered privileged. You must be knowingly seeking advice and guidance to qualify for protection against disclosure.
3. Threatening to commit a future crime. As an officer of the court, your attorney has a duty to report any threats of future acts to law enforcement. Future potential "bad acts" are not protected, although if you speak of hypothetical situations in terms of asking for advice, that is protected.
Contact a law office like FUNDERBURK AND LANE for more information and assistance.