What Is Attorney-Client Privilege?

Written by Mesenbourg & Sarratori Law Offices, P.A. on . Posted in Blog

If you have read the news lately or watched a court drama, you might have heard about the concept of attorney-client privilege. Previous court cases have paved the way for determining what types of privilege are covered with your attorney communications. They set the precedent for the modern idea of privilege in the courtroom.

Thanks to attorney-client privilege, in most cases, your attorney cannot be called to testify against you in court regarding statements you could have made to this person. Your attorney cannot tell everybody the confidential information you have shared with them, and often the law has no right to ask for information or documentation regarding your statements to your attorney.

If you are unsure whether or not you have attorney-client privilege with your criminal defense attorney, read on. Every American should be aware of their rights in the courtroom.

When Attorney-Client Privilege Exists

Attorney-client privilege does not exist in every situation. Your situation must contain several components in order to meet the requirements of allowing privilege.

First, you must be a client of the attorney or be trying to establish a relationship with the attorney. The discussion you have with the attorney must be related to legal assistance and your attempt to receive help in legal proceedings. Your conversation must include the desire to receive help and an establishment of your relationship.

Next, the communication between the attorney and client must be exclusive to the two. Privilege does not extend to any other individuals connected to the client. Any third parties listening to the conversation, excluding associates and office staff members, will eliminate the privilege. Even family members not necessarily associated with the charges can defeat your claim. Spouses are the main exception to this rule.

Finally, you must claim attorney-client privilege in court if somebody you had an attorney-client relationship with is called to testify against you. You can talk to your current attorney to ensure that past communications with other attorneys meet the requirements for privileged communication.

When Attorney-Client Privilege Can Be Denied

Sometimes, an attorney is obligated to share information about a client. Complex issues involving security and the safety of others might mean that your attorney has the right to speak about specific conversations you have had.

Some uncertainty surrounding corporations as clients exists in the legal industry today. A fiduciary duty exception would allow an attorney to make statements outside of privilege.

The death of a client could allow for an attorney to breach privilege, especially if litigation involving the decedent’s family is ongoing. If an individual expressed their wishes to you but has since passed, you may be an asset to the case.

If a client seeks advice from an attorney regarding how to commit a crime or conceal a potential crime, the attorney is not bound by privilege. In order for privilege to exist, a crime must have already been committed. Information linked to perjury, criminal evidence, threats, and missing persons investigations may actually require legal disclosure by your attorney.

Another exception to the rule is known as common interest. If two individuals share the same attorney, neither client is allowed to assert privilege against another as part of the court case.

How to Learn More about Attorney-Client Privilege

Each case is different. You need to discuss the specifics of your case with your attorney to determine how your situation would be best handled. No matter the offense you are charged with, you have legal rights.

Do you have questions about a criminal court case? Call the Mesenbourg & Sarratori Law Offices, P.A., to set up a consultation with a professional.

 

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Mesenbourg & Sarratori Law Offices, P.A.
2601 Coon Rapids Blvd
Coon Rapids, MN 55433
Phone: 763-754-5555