Attorney-Client Privilege: Frequently Asked Questions

Posted on: 20 January 2019


When you are arrested for any reason, one of the first phone calls you should make is to your attorney. Your attorney can help guide you through the process of being arrested and ensure you do not say or do anything that can jeopardize your case. Chances are, you've heard the term attorney-client privilege, but you might not be sure exactly what this means.

Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions you might have about attorney client privilege.

What Exactly Is Attorney-Client Privilege?

If you're arrested or accused of a crime, the first logical step is to hire an attorney. Your attorney will require your complete honesty, but how can you be sure what you say to your attorney won't be held against you later? The basic concept of attorney-client privilege is simple: Any information you tell your attorney pertaining specifically to your case cannot be used in court.

Your attorney cannot voluntarily or be compelled by the court to share this information. This is intended to protect the defendant and ensure they receive fair representation and a fair trial.

How Is Attorney-Client Privilege Established?

To enjoy the protection afforded by attorney-client privilege, there must be an established attorney-client relationship. One of the most common ways attorney-client privilege is established is by signing a contract an exchanging money. If you visit an attorney for an initial consultation and you do not sign any documents or pay the attorney.

However, because there is an implied attorney-client relationship, the information you provide during an initial consultation is also protected. If you are simply asking advice from a friend who is a lawyer, and your friend is later called to testify against you, you cannot claim there was attorney-client privilege. This is because the attorney-client relationship wasn't established.

When Is Attorney-Client Privilege Waived?

Finally, there are several ways that attorney-client privilege is waived. In some instances, the client may not realize they have waived the privilege. For example, if the client writes an email to their attorney on their company computer, which belongs to their employer not them, the information contained in the correspondence isn't protected under attorney-client privilege.

The crime-fraud exception occurs when a client tells their attorney about their intent to commit a crime. Speaking openly about committing a crime can break attorney-client privilege, especially if the attorney is compelled to contact the police because the crime will cause serious harm to another person.

Attorney-client privilege is the most important aspect of your relationship with your criminal lawyer. If you have any more questions, don't hesitate to contact a law firm like Maruca Law.