When your attorney says “tell me everything” they mean everything, and you can do this without worry because of something called attorney-client privilege. Attorney-client privilege is a fundamental legal concept that maintains the confidentiality of communications between attorneys and their clients. It is an essential building block of the legal profession, ensuring that individuals have the freedom to seek legal advice without fear of their private information being disclosed. Without the guarantee of trust that comes from this privilege the legal profession would be unable to properly function.
Attorney-client privilege shields the contents of confidential communications exchanged between an attorney and their client from being disclosed without the client’s consent. The privilege exists to encourage open and honest discussions between clients and their lawyers, enabling clients to provide their attorneys with all the necessary information to effectively represent their interests. Attorney-client privilege covers all communications made in confidence, whether written or oral, between a client and their attorney. The privilege begins at your initial consultation and continues well beyond the end of your case.
It is very important to note that the client holds all of the power when it comes to this privilege. This means that you and only you can waive the attorney-client privilege. 99.99% of the time you will be advised not to do so, but you can choose to disclose confidential information voluntarily, allowing others to access it. However, once waived, the privilege may be lost permanently. You also should keep in mind that having a third party involved in your conversations with your attorney negates the privilege. So while you may want to bring a loved one with you to meet with your attorney, it could do more harm to your case than good.
It is also important to keep in mind that there are exceptions to the attorney-client privilege. For instance, if a client discloses an intention to commit a future crime, the attorney may have a legal obligation to report it. Similarly, if a client seeks legal advice to engage in ongoing or past criminal conduct, the privilege may not apply.