Clients often feel a bit nervous when they first meet with a lawyer. Naturally, the lawyer instructs them to tell them what happened during the event in question. Many clients feel skeptical or do not want to reveal anything of substance at all.
For instance, imagine that someone accused you of stealing a car. Do you admit to stealing it or not? Should you ever incriminate yourself? Or should that information should stay secret?
Working with your lawyer
Of course, the lawyer needs all possible information — including things you would consider secrets — in order to offer you proper defense services. The lawyer's job is very different if you did nothing wrong and it is impossible to prove that you committed the crime compared to if you did commit the crime and that evidence may, in theory, exist. The lawyer has to prepare to defend you in the face of that evidence, so knowing whether it is out there defines that role.
In short, you need to tell the whole truth to your lawyer. If you lie or leave things out, the lawyer may not defend you properly and you could even end up losing a case you would otherwise have won.
But there are caveats. Your attorney could be accused of suborning perjury if you admit to a crime but plan to testify in court that you are innocent. So you must also consider how your words could affect a particular defense strategy before speaking frankly.
Your lawyer must respect your secrecy
It's natural to feel nervous, knowing the ramifications of what you have done. The police probably interviewed you and tried to get you to confess. You are concerned about doing so to anyone in a position of authority.
However, in the vast majority of cases, your right to attorney-client privilege has to be respected. The lawyer cannot tell the court that you admitted to the crime. The lawyer's legal team can't disclose that information. They must keep those secrets.
The reasoning here is exactly as outlined above — lawyers need all the information to offer an effective defense, which is a fundamental part of the justice system in the United States. If clients worry that their secrets will get exposed, they'll never give their lawyers that information. By knowing they have legal protections, they can actually have a productive relationship during the case.
What if your lawyer breaches this rule?
So, what if your lawyer breaks this rule and gives out confidential details about the case? If this happens, it could constitute legal malpractice and violate your rights. Learn what steps you can take after the event.