Attorney Client Privilege
What is the attorney client privilege?
Section 90.502 lays out the attorney-client privilege. The general rule stated is that neither an attorney nor a client are to be compelled to divulge confidential communication that was made between a lawyer and their client. Ethical requirements further prevent the Defense Attorney from revealing attorney-client communications.
Requirements for attorney client privilege?
It’s very straight forward: (1) confidential communication, (2) between lawyer and client, (3) during the course of legal representation.
What happens after case is over? Does Attorney Client Privilege still apply?
Regardless of whether the case is simply over, or the attorney-client relationship has ended, the attorney-client privilege still applies. In other words, the lawyer cannot go around telling people communication, between the lawyer and the client, that was made during the course of the legal representation.
The importance of the attorney client privilege
Understanding that the communication with your lawyer is privileged is a an important realization in any attorney-client relationship. This is because your lawyer will often need to know specific, and sometimes incriminating, details of your case. Without knowledge of these details, your lawyer cannot fully prepare. In fact, without these details, your lawyer could potentially be blindsided by damaging evidence that your lawyer should have had from the beginning. Your lawyer often will need the truth and when he asks for it give it to them. Remember, they are on your team.
An example of where a client doesn’t want to tell his lawyer the truth:
consider the case where a Defendant needs a witness to testify to his whereabouts on a specific occasion. The Defendant knows that the witness is his brother. The Defendant decides it’s important that the witness be someone neutral so he tells his attorney that this guy is just an acquaintance. The brother goes along with this, acknowledging to the lawyer that he’s the Defendant’s acquaintance. During the hearing, the brother is cross examined by the state. During the cross examination it is revealed that the person testifying is actually the Defendant’s brother. Regardless of how petty this small detail might have been, or have seemed to the Defendant, the fact that they lied about an inconsequential point may have cost them the entire case.
Let the lawyer decide how to deal with harmful facts in your case:
Know that even if what you’re telling your lawyer appears damaging to you, the lawyer is not allowed to divulge your conversations and cannot be compelled to testify against you. The attorney-client privilege prevents it. As a general rule, it is better to let your lawyer in on the bad stuff, and to go through the harmful facts of the case with him so that he can help you navigate the process. It is always best that your lawyer walks into each and every hearing being as fully advised as possible.