When it comes to facing criminal charges, it is natural to feel hesitant about discussing the full details of your case with anyone, including an attorney. You might be afraid to share some details because you do not want to incriminate yourself, or you may believe that certain information is too embarrassing or difficult to disclose. However, when you retain counsel for a criminal defense case, it’s important that your attorney has all the information necessary to provide you with the best defense possible.
In this blog, we will explain what attorney-client privilege is and why it is essential for criminal defense attorneys to have all the information you can provide in order to build a strong defense for you.
What Is Attorney-Client Privilege?
Attorney-client privilege is a legal concept that protects communications between an attorney and their client from being disclosed to anyone else. This means that anything you tell your attorney is strictly confidential and cannot be shared with anyone else without your consent. The purpose of attorney-client privilege is to encourage full and open communication between clients and their attorneys, so that clients can provide their attorneys with all the information necessary for the attorney to provide effective representation.
When you meet with an attorney, anything discussed is protected from disclosure and cannot be shared without your express permission. This includes in-person conversations, emails or text messages, phone calls, and any other forms of communication between the two of you.
Is The Initial Consultation Protected By Attorney-Client Privilege?
Significantly, an initial consultation is also protected by attorney-client privilege. This means that if you have a phone conversation with a potential lawyer or meet in the lawyer’s office, but you end up deciding not to retain the attorney, your initial consultation is still protected by attorney-client privilege. The reasoning for this protection is to ensure full, open, and honest communication between a potential client and the potential attorney. During an initial consultation, we need to learn everything about you and your case, the good and the bad. Hiding details from your potential attorney will only harm the attorney’s ability to represent you properly and to the best of their ability.
At Barnes & Fersten, if we believe a potential client may be hiding information from us during the initial consultation, we make sure to inform the potential client of attorney-client privilege and how it applies even if they do not end up retaining us. At the end of the day, this allows us to create a personalized defense strategy starting on that very first day of the initial consultation.
Should I Tell My Lawyer I Am Guilty?
This is a difficult question that many people facing criminal charges ask themselves. The short answer is yes, you should tell your lawyer if you are guilty. The more information you provide your attorney, the better they will be able to understand the charges against you and help you achieve the best possible outcome.
Additionally, it is important to remember that attorney-client privilege applies to all communications between you and your lawyer, regardless of whether you are innocent or guilty. Even if you are guilty of the charges against you, your attorney is still bound by the confidentiality requirement and cannot share your information without your consent.
It is also important to remember that just because you are guilty of a crime, it does not mean that you will be convicted or that you will receive the maximum sentence. There may be extenuating circumstances, such as a lack of intent, that can affect the outcome of your case. Your attorney will be able to help you understand the charges against you, any potential defenses, and the best possible outcome for your case.
If I tell my lawyer that I am guilty, is there anything they can do to help me?
Even if you’re guilty, it’s important to work closely with your attorney to put together the best defense possible. This might include negotiating a plea deal, which can result in a reduced charge or sentence. With proper legal representation and a well-constructed defense, you may be able to reduce the potential consequences you may face.
Even if you are technically guilty of an offense, your lawyer still may be able to get a reduction or even get your case dismissed based on mitigating circumstances or suppression issues. The facts and circumstances of your life and how the conviction may impact you can play a role in your lawyer’s ability to negotiate your case. Moreover, many times, the arresting officer may have illegally obtained evidence or proceeded with his or her investigation improperly. At Barnes & Fersten we will review the body camera evidence and all the physical evidence to use any illegal arrest, seizure, or search issues to your advantage in plea negotiations and potentially in filing and arguing a motion to advantageously resolve your case.
When it comes to facing criminal charges, the truth always comes out in the end. It is important to remember that the attorney-client privilege is there to protect you, and it is always better to be upfront and honest with your attorney, whatever the outcome may be. Even though you are guilty, there are many ways to mitigate the situation and work towards a better outcome.
In conclusion, if you’re facing criminal charges, it is important to be honest and open with your attorney about the details of your case. Attorney-client privilege ensures that the information you provide will be kept confidential, and your attorney will work to provide you with the best possible representation. If you are guilty, your attorney will help you understand the charges against you, any potential defenses, and the best possible outcome for your case.
Can A Lawyer Snitch On Their Client?
The short answer is no, a lawyer cannot snitch on their client. As mentioned earlier, attorney-client privilege ensures exchanges between you and your lawyer remain private. Any information or discussions shared with your attorney are strictly forbidden from being revealed to anyone else without explicit permission from the client.
Additionally, lawyers are also bound by professional ethical rules and regulations that prohibit them from disclosing any information about their clients without the client’s consent or a court order. This is known as the “duty of confidentiality” and it is a fundamental part of the attorney-client relationship.
It is also important to remember that the lawyer’s duty of confidentiality extends beyond the attorney-client relationship. Even after the representation is finished, a lawyer is bound to keep information learned during representation confidential, unless the client consents to it being revealed.
It is worth noting there are some exceptions to attorney-client privilege and the duty of confidentiality. As previously mentioned, communications that are made specifically for the purpose of committing a crime or fraud are not protected by attorney-client privilege. In such cases, a lawyer may be required to report the crime or fraud to the appropriate authorities, as is their ethical and legal duty. Additionally, if a lawyer is subpoenaed by a court and is ordered to disclose client information, the lawyer must do so. However, the lawyer will make all reasonable efforts to protect their client’s interests and inform the client of their rights to fight the subpoena. This is only in rare and extenuating circumstances.
Consult With A Criminal Defense Attorney
At Barnes and Fersten, we understand the complexities of criminal defense law. We are committed to providing our clients with the best possible representation and will do everything in our power to ensure that they receive a positive outcome. Our experienced attorneys have extensive knowledge in criminal defense matters and can help you navigate through this difficult time. If you are facing criminal charges, don’t hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation.
Attorney At Law, Managing Partner
Brandon D. Fersten is an esteemed Knoxville attorney practicing DUI, criminal defense, and juvenile law. Known for his empathetic approach and commitment to his clients, he brings a record of favorable case outcomes including dismissals and not guilty verdicts at jury trials resulting in Brandon being recognized as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” in Criminal Defense, U.S. News’ Best Lawyers: “Ones to Watch,” and Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars”. Brandon’s professional accolades, combined with his passion for justice, position him as a reliable criminal defense advocate in the East Tennessee legal landscape.