January 13, 2018
If you’ve been accused of a crime, you might be tempted to talk about it with friends and family. You definitely shouldn’t. Anything you say can be used against you later in court. But there’s one person you can talk to – your criminal defense attorney. Anything you tell them is protected by attorney-client privilege, meaning your criminal defense attorney can’t reveal what you’ve told them to the police or jury.
What Information Is Confidential?
Not everything you tell a lawyer will be held in confidence. Instead, your communication must have been made in confidence for the purposes of seeking legal advice. If your communication doesn’t meet these requirements, it might not be confidential.
For example, you might meet with your lawyer in a busy restaurant and loudly talk about your case. If a third-party overhears you, your communication probably isn’t privileged. For these reasons, you should communicate privately over the phone, using email, or by meeting with your lawyer in their office so that you preserve the confidential nature of your communications.
Who Can Waive the Privilege?
The client can waive the attorney-client privilege if they want their lawyer to relay information to another person. However, your attorney cannot disclose information unless they have your permission. In other words, only you hold the key that can unlock your confidences.
The situation is quite different if you just tell a friend or family member something about your case. In that situation, they have no duty to maintain your confidences and can instead show up in court and tell the jury what you told them. For this reason, it’s best not to try and defend yourself. Instead, by using a St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney, you can bounce ideas off someone else while maintaining the confidentiality of all information.
Can the Lawyer Ever Disclose Confidential Information?
Sometimes, yes. The law makes an exception when you hire a lawyer and ask them to help you commit a crime or fraud. For example, your lawyer can go to the police and report you if they suspect you are using their services to commit a crime. This does not mean you can’t confidentially confess to your lawyer that you have committed a crime. It means you can’t hire a lawyer to help you commit a future crime.
If I Fire My Lawyer, Are My Communications Confidential?
Yes. Your lawyer must maintain your confidences even after they stop representing you, which includes situations in which you fire your lawyer because you no longer want to work with them. In fact, lawyers must maintain client confidences even after their clients pass away. If your lawyer discloses something without your permission, you can report them to the state’s ethics board and claim ineffective assistance of counsel.
Call a St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney
Criminal defendants need someone they can speak openly with as they prepare their defense. At Khonsari Law Group, we zealously guard our client’s confidences and respect their wishes as to what information they wish to disclose. Call us at (727) 269-5300 or fill out our online contact form. All consultations are free.