Breaking Down Attorney-Client Privilege: What It Means & How It Can Affect Your Case

The attorney-client privilege is a longstanding legal rule dating back to the 16th century. It’s a rule that exists to protect communications between lawyers and their clients. If you’re dealing with a legal issue, it’s helpful to understand what the attorney-client privilege is and how it works. Doing so helps you be better prepared to communicate effectively with your legal team. 

With that in mind, here’s an overview of attorney-client privilege and how it can impact your case. 

What Is Attorney-Client Privilege? 

The attorney-client privilege rule protects confidential communication between attorneys and their clients. The privilege covers spoken and written communications. That said, it’s limited to communications about your case. 

The attorney-client privilege rule prevents your lawyer from being forced to share confidential information that you disclose to them. If your lawyer shares privileged information, courts can strike it from the record. 

The result is that clients can feel comfortable sharing all relevant information with their lawyers without fear that it will be disclosed.

How Do You Know if the Attorney-Client Privilege Applies?

There are often disputes about whether communications fall under the attorney-client privilege. To ensure you’re protected, it’s helpful to know the factors that make communication privileged. 

Communication is privileged if: 

  1. You were seeking legal advice from your lawyer in a professional role. 
  2. You thought your communication was confidential. 
  3. You made reasonable efforts to ensure your communication stayed confidential.

Before sharing confidential information with your attorney, consider these factors. You can also talk with a Providence criminal defense attorney about any concerns. 

Exceptions to Attorney-Client Privilege 

There are some important exceptions to the attorney-client privilege rule. 

Notable exceptions to attorney-client privilege are: 

  • Waiver. You can waive attorney-client privilege whenever you want to. The privilege is yours, and you don’t have to use it. No one else can waive your attorney-client privilege. 
  • Corporate Representation. When a lawyer represents a corporation, they represent the entity. They do not represent the individuals at the corporation. Because employees of the corporation are not the client, there is no attorney-client privilege. This is true for all individuals, even CEOs and presidents. 
  • Future Fraud or Crime. Communication about future fraud or crimes is not privileged. Your attorney may be required to break privilege to prevent fraud or crime. 
  • Physical Evidence. You cannot use attorney-client privilege to conceal physical evidence. For example, you cannot give your lawyer a gun or drugs and then invoke attorney-client privilege to keep your attorney from turning it over.
  • Failure to Treat Information as Confidential. If you share confidential information publicly or with a lot of people, you can’t invoke attorney-client privilege. 
  • Joint Representation. You cannot use attorney-client privilege against another party represented by your lawyer. 
  • Dispute With Your Attorney. In disputes with your attorney, you can’t use attorney-client privilege to keep out relevant information. 

When an exception applies, your communications with your lawyer are not protected. 

Take Advantage of Attorney-Client Privilege

The purpose of the attorney-client privilege is to allow people to talk freely with their lawyers. It can help your lawyer defend you and ensure you get the best representation possible. 

That said, it can be confusing to know whether communications are privileged. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to ask your Providence defense lawyer before sharing confidential information. Once you’ve confirmed that the information is privileged, you can talk openly with your lawyer. 

It is crucial not to lie to your attorney or conceal information. Your attorney can better defend you if they are aware of all of the information.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Law Firm – Manosh Payette Criminal Defense Attorneys

For more information, please contact the Providence criminal defense law firm of Manosh Payette Criminal Defense Attorneys for a free consultation, give us a call at (401) 854-7794, or visit our convenient location:

Manosh Payette Criminal Defense Attorneys – Providence Criminal Defense Attorney
101 Dyer St Suite 2D, Providence, RI 02903, United States