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Attorney-Client Privilege: How Far Does it Go?

Posted by Carmine R. Villani | Jun 25, 2014 | 0 Comments

Criminal Defense Attorney-Client Privilege

Meeting and speaking with your attorney is like going to meet with your psychologist. In order to properly diagnose the situation, your attorney must be provided with all the important information that makes up your case. This relationship is important to make sure that the attorney has the full picture before diving in to defend. Most of the time, the information being provided to the attorney is information we classify as private, that we would not like to be shared with the public. This is where the protection of the attorney-client privilege kicks in.
Under the Model Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.6, every attorney must keep a client's information confidential and cannot knowingly disclose information related to the representation without the client's permission. This confidential information is protected under the attorney-client privilege, which applies in court proceedings and protects an attorney from being called as a witness to reveal confidential information concerning their client.

Required Elements of the Attorney-Client Privilege

In order to have an attorney-client privilege, there are four necessary elements that need to be met: 1) there must be a communication; 2) made between privileged persons; 3) in confidence; 4) for the purpose of seeking, obtaining or providing legal assistance to the client. The attorney-client privilege provides individuals with several securities. First, it protects both written and oral communication between the attorney and the client. Second, it provides assurance to the client that the secrets that are shared with his or her attorney will not be released to others. This provides clients with relief that their confidential information is in good hands.

Exceptions to the Attorney-Client Privilege

With every rule there is of course an exception. Under the attorney-client privilege, there are some communications which are not protected between a client and their attorney. One of these exceptions is when the communication between the client and the attorney is made for the purpose of committing a crime. In this situation, if a client speaks with his attorney seeking advice on how to commit a crime, the privilege becomes inappropriate to be used and the information can be revealed. Another exception to the privilege is if the communication is made in the presence of other individuals besides the client and the attorney. However, some third parties who are necessary to have for the furtherance of the representation do not break the attorney-client privilege, for example a translator or legal secretary.  A final type of exception to the privilege can occur when the client puts the advice received from the attorney at issue during trial, which allows an attorney to reveal information in self-defense.

Need Legal Representation in a Criminal Matter?

It is important to know the ways in which the information you provide to your attorney are protected. We understand that it is sometimes hard to open up and provide information that can be close to the heart. We are here to provide you with help and advice to get you through those tough times. The attorneys at Villani & DeLuca have years of experience representing individuals facing different types of charges. Call our offices today at (732) 709-7757 to schedule a free consultation with a NJ criminal defense lawyer.

About the Author

Carmine R. Villani

Founding partner, Carmine Villani, Esq. is a former municipal prosecutor with over three decades of experience in Criminal and DWI Defense.


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