Attorney-Client Privilege: Can You Speak Freely?


Hiring an attorney can be a stressful event, without even taking into account the circumstances that may have led you to do so. You know you should be honest and forthcoming with your new attorney, but how much confidence can you have in the attorney's discretion? For more information about how the law protects your communications with your attorney, read on.  

What is Attorney-Client Privilege?

The legal concept of attorney-client privilege means that all communications between you and your attorney is private and protected. Your attorney, with some rare exceptions, can never be compelled to reveal what you say, write or electronically communicate with him or her.

The need for full disclosure in order to plan for your defense is a fundamental benefit of the attorney-client privilege concept. This privilege extends from your first encounter with the attorney, even if you later decide not to retain him or her, to the point of infinity, meaning that it never expires. It's important to note that any past acts you have committed also fall under the protection of attorney-client privilege.

Exceptions to Attorney-Client Privilege

You could easily find yourself in one or more of the below situations where attorney-client privilege does will not cover your communications with your attorney.

1.  The presence of a third party: While it may seem natural to bring a friend with you for support when you meet with you attorney, unfortunately anything you say in the presence of that friend is no longer considered privileged communications. Additionally, discussions held in public places, such as at a party or in a crowded restaurant, may not be considered privileged.

2.  Intent: Casual discussions about your legal issues with an acquaintance who is an attorney may not be considered privileged. You must be specifically seeking legal advice for that discussion to be confidential and protected.

3.  Intent to commit a future act: Communicating your intentions to commit a crime, or to cover up a future crime, is exempt from attorney-client privilege. Moreover, most states require the attorney to report to the authorities any threats to do harm to a person. There is one caveat here; you can ask for advice on hypothetical situations, and still be covered under the attorney-client privilege.

Be sure to check with an attorney (such as one from Bayley & Mangan Law Officebefore you divulge information if you are at all uncertain of the potential for an attorney-client privilege exemption. However, in most situations you can rest assured that you can be open with your attorney, and that doing so can only help your attorney to represent you in a competent manner.


2 September 2015

do you really need an attorney?

There are so many legal situations that you can find yourself involved with, but do those situations really require that you hire an attorney? Some instances you may not need an attorney working with you, but in other situations, an attorney is definitely a necessity. This blog contains tips and advice for working through the different elements of the legal system. You will find information that can help you determine if/when you need to hire an attorney to represent your best interests. Knowing this information can help you avoid the costly mistake of taking on the legal system without someone who knows how the system works.