Many citizens of the United States are aware that a level of confidentiality between a client and their criminal lawyer has been extended by the court system in our country. Attorney-client privilege was granted in order to allow those charged with crimes the opportunity to be effectively involved in their own defense.
The Reason for Protected Communication
Everyone has the right to a fair trial and that is only possible with effective representation by educated and experienced attorneys. Fortunately, clients have been given the right to nearly unfettered communication with their lawyers in order to build their defense cases. Privileged information between a client and attorney includes that which is communicated in private. Lawyers cannot be called to testify in court against their clients. They are also barred from revealing this information to anyone else, regardless of their involvement in the case.
There are Some Exceptions
Most often, attorneys will encourage private meetings with their clients in order to protect the attorney-client privilege. This is because the environment or presence of others can remove a client’s right to claim confidentiality. Exceptions to attorney-client privilege include any conversations held in public or on a jailhouse telephone. Additionally, any information from an attorney-client conversation that is later shared with others can lose its state of confidentiality. When this happens, the other parties that have heard the information may then be questioned by law enforcement and could possibly be called to testify in court. Not only that, but an attorney may reveal any information about a potential criminal act that he or she reasonably believes may result in substantial bodily harm or death to another individual. However, many lawyers will inform their clients if the information they have provided is subject to this allowance.
Seeing that not all attorney-client communication is actually protected, awareness is the key to keeping a client’s information confidential. The surroundings, mode of communication and the presence of others must be considered in order to preserve the attorney-client privilege. A client must also be aware of what their attorney is allowed to reveal and be careful about making even the most idle of threats. Regardless of popular opinion, attorney-client privilege is not all-encompassing. You never know who may else may be listening.