You likely never saw it coming, but being arrested for DUI can happen to almost anyone. You may be feeling pretty bad right now, but you might want to keep in mind that getting arrested for something is not the same thing as being convicted for it. Your first step should be getting yourself a criminal defense attorney to advocate on your behalf and to help you navigate your way through this process. As you begin to interact with your lawyer, you may start to wonder exactly how much you should tell them. You are actually protected by a powerful privilege, so read on for a better understanding of the attorney-client privilege and what it means to your DUI case.
What is the attorney client privilege?
The founding fathers of our justice system knew all too well about the importance of the need for fairness when it comes to prosecuting crimes. Those accused are given several privileges to help ensure that justice is served, and the ability to put up an adequate defense against the crimes you are charged with is one of those rights. You have the right to an attorney, because many people are unable to untangle and utilize the relatively complicated laws dealing with offenses. In order for that attorney to mount a good defense, they must have as much information about their client and the alleged crime as possible. Thus the attorney-client privilege was born.
What this privilege means for you
When you know that your communications with your attorney are completely confidential and that what you tell them can never be used against you, you are more likely to be honest and open. Once you communicate something to your attorney, that attorney can never be compelled to reveal it. What is meant by communications? Any of the below and more:
- Sign language
- Computer files
- Phone texts
- Recording devices
The limits of the privilege
For most people, this protection is nearly unlimited. Once communicated, only your death opens the door for scrutiny. It should be noted that you do not necessarily need to actually hire or sign a contract with an attorney (in most states) for the privilege to be present. It covers any and all past acts. There are, however, a few rare exceptions to the privilege. Thought rare, you would be extremely wise to check with your attorney about the confidentiality of a communication before you speak, rather than find out later that it did not fall under the privilege.
Exceptions to the attorney-client privilege
1. Intent: you must be discussing something with an attorney with the intent of getting advice and not just having a casual conversation.
2. Third party: if someones else overhears you, that person could be compelled to testify what they heard you tell your attorney.
3. Future acts: if you tell your attorney about your plans to commit a crime, they are bound to report it.
For more information, contact a local attorney.