In the criminal justice system, it is all too common for defendants to feel isolated. Facing a criminal charge can be a lonely and stressful experience. Having a trusted attorney by your side can bring a sense of control and anchoring when you may otherwise feel completely free floating in chaos. The law recognizes the importance of the attorney-client relationship. It even goes further than this by recognizing that a solid, honest relationship between an attorney and a client can be critical to the attorney being able to most effectively represent his or her client. That is why the attorney-client privilege exists.
What Is Covered Under Attorney-Client Privilege?
The attorney-client privilege may be asserted should opposing counsel make a legal demand for communications made between an attorney and a client. This could take the form of a discovery request or demand for the attorney to testify under oath. The attorney-client privilege is a legal privilege that works to keep covered communications between an attorney and a client confidential. The privilege is, in fact, held by the client and this means that only the client may waive privilege.
The attorney-client privilege covers communications made between a client or a prospective client, pursuant to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Specifically, a communication covered by the attorney-client privilege is one that is made in confidence between an attorney and his or her client for the purpose of securing legal advice or counsel. Communication may take many forms. It may be oral communication. It may be an email or a letter or even a text message. All of these forms can be covered under attorney-client privilege.
The communication, however, must have been made in confidence. In other words, the communication must have been confidential and limited to the client and his or her attorney. A third party included in the communication will likely result in the loss of the communication being covered by the attorney-client privilege. This means that if the client spoke to his or her attorney with a friend present or copied someone else on an email sent to his or her attorney, privilege will likely be considered to have been waived and the communication may be fair game for discovery or in court.
In addition to waiving privilege, some communications may fall outside the purview of the attorney-client privilege if they fall into an exception. For instance, a central exception to the attorney-client privilege is the crime-fraud exception. Under this exception, a client’s communication with his or her attorney will not be considered privileged if it was made with the intention of either committing or covering up a crime or fraud.
While there may be some exceptions to the attorney-client privilege, this privilege is still far-reaching and work to foster a solid relationship between a client and his or her attorney. It provides for candid discussions without fear of retribution.
Criminal Defense Attorneys
At Navarrete & Schwartz, we take our duty to our clients very seriously. We know what our clients are up against and are committed to fighting for them every step of the way. We are proud to serve the residents of Midland, Texas. Contact us today.