Does Attorney-Client Privilege Mean I Can Say Anything?


We’ve all heard the term “attorney-client privilege” and have a basic knowledge that the term means that you can say anything to your attorney, even confess to a crime, and he or she is not allowed to tell anyone.  Is this true?  Are there any restrictions on what you can say?

The Basics

When you hire an attorney or consult one about your case, he or she works for you and by law, must hold the things you say confidential.  If you are worried about what you say to your attorney, how can they effectively counsel you on your case?  Your attorney needs you to be honest with them so they can provide you with the best defense which includes supporting evidence and whether or not to have you take the stand at trial and testify on your own behalf.  If you cannot afford an attorney and have the court appoint a public defender to represent you in court, the attorney-client privilege extends to them as well because they are licensed attorneys acting your behalf.

This strict confidentiality applies to any communications between you and your lawyer, both written and verbal and means that your lawyer is not allowed to share them with anyone outside your legal team and cannot be compelled to testify against you.  The restriction continues after your lawyer no longer represents you and even after you die.  They can only testify about your communications with them if you waive your right to confidentiality.

The attorney-client privilege usually only applies to past offenses.  You couldn’t tell your attorney that you were planning on killing someone in the future, for example, and expect them not to tell the police.  In fact, if you told them something that happened in the past or information that you knew that was going to lead to someone being killed or seriously hurt, your lawyer must pass that information onto law enforcement or they would be in violation of ethics rules.

The attorney-client privilege applies to an attorney that you may consult on taking your case even if they end up not being your attorney but it’s wise to ask the attorney if it does before you say anything that might incriminate yourself.  While attorney-client privilege is generally a highly-regarded tenant of the rule of law, the details can vary from state-to-state with some states being stricter than others so make sure that you have a clear understanding with your lawyer what you can say before you say it.

If you’ve been arrested, whether you’ve chosen a lawyer yet or not, Mercy Bail Bonds can help you take the steps you need so you can get back home as quickly as possible.  We treat all of our clients with respect and keep all information confidential. Call Mercy Bail Bonds at (727)856-7775 and talk with one of our dedicated staff who can get the ball rolling on your release from jail.  We’re open 24/7 and we always answer.