Why Attorney-Client Privilege Might Save Your Bacon
One of the most important principles in the US legal system is attorney-client privilege. This privilege means that all communications between attorneys and their clients are legally protected. Just as information that you reveal to medical professionals must be kept confidential, there are similar protections that apply to your legal conversations.
Here’s why attorney-client privilege is such an important tool for both clients and attorneys.
You Can (And Should) Be Honest With Your Attorney
Attorney-client privilege is a concept of fundamental importance to our democratic system because it enables clients to be completely open with their attorneys. Whenever someone is accused of a crime, no matter how minor or serious, they need to have proper legal counsel. That means that they need to know that they can speak openly with their attorneys about the details of the case without worrying about that information being used against them.
The precise laws surrounding attorney-client privilege vary from state to state. For example, it is covered by rule 4-1.6 in the state of Florida. However, throughout the US, the concept of attorney-client means that you can always talk to your lawyer about the details of your case without prejudicing your trial.
Attorneys Can’t Turn Against You
Sometimes, attorneys and their clients just don’t get along. It isn’t uncommon, especially in more difficult and complex cases, for legal counsel to change partway through. It is vital that anyone going through the court system is able to choose the legal representation that they think is best for them. If defendants are concerned about a vindictive attorney working against them, it could deter them from seeking new counsel when they want to.
Thanks to attorney-client privilege, clients can be assured that even if they switch attorneys, they don’t have to worry about possibly being blackmailed or railroaded.
Exceptions To The Rule
The attorney-client privilege means that clients are free to discuss crimes that they have already committed and been charged with without having to worry about that information being passed on to the police. However, if you were to reveal to your attorney that you had plans to go and commit another crime or cause harm to another person, then attorney-client privilege no longer applies.
It is also important to remember that the attorney-client privilege doesn’t cover the crime of perjury, which is lying under oath. If your attorney knows that you plan to lie on the witness stand, or you have already done so, they may have to remove themselves from your case entirely.
Finally, the attorney-client privilege may not be used to suppress corporate communications with counsel and employees that are relevant to an internal investigation. If a corporation invokes the privilege in these circumstances, it is liable to challenge in court.
It is essential that everyone understands attorney-client privilege, how it works, and what its implications are for our justice system. The privilege is one of the most important legal protections that both attorneys and their clients have. Without this privilege, it would be significantly more difficult for lawyers to render their services effectively.