When speaking with a defense lawyer, criminal defendants can rest assured that their conversations are confidential. Clients have a right to privacy when discussing the details of their case with a criminal defense lawyer.
The confidentiality of communications between criminal defense lawyers and their clients is preserved by the rule known as “attorney-client privilege.” If the attorney-client privilege did not exist, clients in criminal cases would not be comfortable revealing incriminating details.
If you have been arrested for committing a criminal offense, do not hesitate to get a free, confidential consultation with a Round Rock criminal defense lawyer. Call 254-501-4040 to discuss your particular case.
How Does the Attorney-Client Privilege Work in Criminal Cases?
A criminal defense attorney must ensure the confidentiality of conversations with their clients. Under the attorney-client privilege, any confidential information a lawyer learns while representing a client cannot be disclosed to third parties.
In other words, if a lawyer has access to confidential information entrusted to them by a client, they cannot reveal that information to third parties unless they have the client’s consent to do so.
However, under limited circumstances, the attorney-client privilege can be broken:
- A court order requires the attorney to reveal confidential consultation with their client;
- The lawyer has reasonable suspicion that the client is likely to commit another crime;
- The lawyer believes that concealing the information would cause substantial bodily injury or financial harm to another individual; or
- The lawyer and client have a dispute, and the lawyer must reveal the contents of their conversations to defend themselves.
In all other situations, the attorney needs the client’s consent to disclose anything they told them during private conversations. For this reason, unless any of the aforementioned exceptions apply, anything you tell your criminal defense lawyer is confidential and cannot be revealed to anyone without your consent.
What if the Conversation is Overheard by Third Parties?
The importance of communicating with your criminal defense attorney in private cannot be overstated to prevent third parties from overhearing anything you tell your lawyer.
While a lawyer has a legal duty to keep your conversations confidential, they cannot guarantee the confidentiality of the information if the conversation is overheard by third parties.
Since the attorney did not directly provide confidential information to a third party who overheard the conversation, the attorney cannot be held accountable for breaching the attorney-client privilege.
That is why all consultations and meetings with your criminal defense attorney must take place in a private setting without third parties. The same can be said about conversations between lawyers and their clients in jails.
The incarcerated client has a right to speak with their lawyer in a private setting where no one can overhear the conversation. In addition, because prison phones are often monitored, it is not a good idea to share confidential information even if third parties are not physically present in the room during the phone conversation with a lawyer.
In other words, a client does not have the expectation of privacy when they fail to share confidential information in private to prevent third parties from overhearing the conversation.
Can a Lawyer Defend Their Client if They Know That the Client is Guilty?
Many criminal defense attorneys, especially inexperienced ones, may face a dilemma when they hear their client admit their fault in a private conversation.
Even if the client admits their client to their criminal defense lawyer, they still have the expectation that the client will fight on their behalf to prove their innocence.
In many cases, the client’s confession can help an attorney build a strong defense strategy. However, many criminal defense attorneys may fail to successfully defend their client when they know that the client is guilty.
In fact, an attorney’s personal feelings may get in the way of effective legal representation. The client may sue their attorney for breaching the duty owed to them.
Even if a client admits their guilt to their lawyer, the attorney is ethically obligated to continue defending the client and challenge the prosecutor’s case if it cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime.
At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, our knowledge and experienced criminal defense lawyers are committed to fighting for your best interests and freedom even if you are guilty. We are not here to judge you for your actions. We are here to defend you against the charges to help you get your life back on track.
What About the Information Discovered by the Attorney During the Criminal Case?
Many states, including Texas, expand the attorney-client privilege to include the information discovered by the lawyer while representing the client.
It means that in Texas, information is not privileged only when the client communicates it. Rather, any information the criminal defense lawyer learns about their client while representing them, including from third parties, cannot be revealed to anyone without the client’s consent.
Since this requirement can be limiting, many criminal lawyers attempt to bypass it by having their clients sign contracts that contain a clause permitting the lawyer to break the attorney-client privilege as long as doing so is necessary for legal representation. Before signing any contracts with your criminal defense attorney, pay attention to such clauses.
Contact a Criminal Lawyer
It is not uncommon for people who have been arrested for a crime to worry about the confidentiality of their conversations with their criminal defense attorney. (Learn more about resisting arrest in Texas)
However, anything you tell your criminal lawyer during your conversations in private settings cannot be disclosed to third parties without your consent. Remember, your right to counsel also guarantees your right to confidentiality.
At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, our attorneys respect the information you want to share with our criminal defense lawyers during a consultation. We will not judge you for what you have done. Our goal is to provide you with successful representation to achieve the best possible results in your criminal case. Do not hesitate to schedule a free and confidential consultation with our knowledgeable lawyers by calling 254-501-4040.