WHAT IS THE ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE?
When an individual hires an attorney, they are hiring not only a person who is licensed to practice law, they are also hiring someone who is able to counsel them and provide important insight into potentially sensitive topics. Because of this, the judicial system has recognized and upheld an important privilege that exists between attorneys and clients that prevents disclosures.
The Attorney-Client Privilege
The attorney-client privilege protects communications between a client and an attorney from being forcibly disclosed by a third-party. This is due to the fact that in order to provide competent representation, a client must be able to tell their attorney information that could be damaging to the client, without fear of that information being disclosed. For the attorney-client privilege to apply, a client must:
- Communicate with an attorney about legal advice;
- The lawyer must be working for the client in his professional capacity as an attorney; and
- The client must have either meant the communications to be private or taken steps to ensure privacy;
Generally, the attorney-client privilege is considered a rule of evidence, because it prevents an attorney from being forced to testify against their client or to talk about discussions between the attorney and the client. The attorney-client privilege also has no expiration date, it continues on forever, even after the professional relationship ends or the client dies. Because of this, the only way any privileged information can be disclosed is if the client provides informed consent.
What is Covered by the Attorney-Client Privilege?
Generally, the attorney-client privilege only protects communications between the client and the attorney. This means that although an attorney and client can talk about facts of the case, the only information that is covered by the attorney-client privilege is the actual discussion of the facts, not the underlying facts themselves. Because of this, if the client tells the attorney that they did in fact commit a crime or did something that could cause liability, the attorney can not be forced to disclose that information. However, if the client tells the attorney that he is planning on committing a crime or fraud, the lawyer can and may be required to disclose that information.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney that can help zealously defend your case. Contact Us at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation on your case.
James Minick is founder and C.E.O. of Minick Law, P.C. James is committed to providing top notch legal services through his team of highly specialized legal professionals. James will defend your rights.