How Much Should You Tell Your Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney?

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By: Bill Henry
PublishedAug 3, 2022
3 minute read

As the old adage goes, the truth shall set you free. But if you’re accused of a crime, you may be wondering just how much you tell your Colorado criminal defense attorney. That’s what we’ll delve into in this article. We’ll also cover the attorney-client privilege.

If you’re charged with a crime, get an attorney.

If you face criminal charges, this is no time to roll the dice. Your best hope is a dedicated, no-nonsense criminal defense attorney. Robinson & Henry’s legal team has the experience you’ll want as you plan your next steps. Call 303-688-0944 to begin your case assessment.

What is Attorney-Client Privilege?  

Attorney-client privilege is a centuries-old, bedrock legal concept safeguarding communications between you and your attorney. Think of it as a lockbox only you and your attorney can open.

It is meant to encourage honest discussion between you and your lawyer by removing the fear that what you’ve said to or provided your attorney could later be used as evidence against you in court.

Attorney-client privilege means that neither you nor your lawyer can be forced to testify or disclose information about discussions you have had with each other.

The privilege applies no matter if you are guilty or innocent of the alleged crime, and it lasts forever.

What Communications are Protected? 

Any confidential discussion relating to legal advice is protected by the attorney-client privilege.

It doesn’t matter if communications took place in a closed office, over the phone, via email, text, written letters, or … morse code. They cannot be subpoenaed, nor pried free by motions for discovery. They cannot be entered into evidence against you should privileged communications happen to leak.

Why Should I Tell My Lawyer Everything? 

If you’ve endured the indignity of an arrest or indictment, it can feel like the walls, floor, and ceiling are closing in at once. It’s hard to trust anybody, but you need somebody to trust. And, in these circumstances, that someone should be your attorney.

You should tell your lawyer everything because it could backfire on your case if you don’t.

Your Lawyer Needs the Information to Develop Your Defense

A defense strategy built upon incomplete information is a quivering house of cards that will topple at the slightest push. By holding back or minimizing key facts you might prejudice your own criminal defense; you could unwittingly give the prosecution a decisive advantage — with your freedom on the line.

Your criminal defense attorney deserves your honesty. You deserve your attorney’s confidentiality. This is achieved with the attorney-client privilege.

What is the Oath of Confidentiality?

In many ways, an attorney’s oath of confidentiality to a client is similar to attorney-client privilege. Both concepts aim to protect clients while encouraging open communication with their counsel.

The big difference between the two is that where privilege applies to protecting attorney-client discussions from being used as evidence, confidentiality is guided by the American Bar Association’s rules of professional ethics:

A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation, or disclosure is authorized by (paragraph b)ABA Rule 1.6

What is ‘Informed Consent?’ 

Informed consent means your attorney cannot reveal confidential communication between you and them without your permission. Furthermore, such permission can only be granted if the client is aware of the risks and has had the opportunity to consider alternative options.

What is ‘Impliedly Authorized?’ 

Impliedly authorized is a common-sense provision that allows your criminal defense attorney to perform basic legal maneuvers on your behalf without needing informed consent.

For example, by filing a motion in court, your defense attorney implicitly reveals that you have hired a lawyer, but she or he does not disclose any more than absolutely necessary.

What if an Attorney Reveals Confidential Information?

A lawyer who fails to uphold attorney-client privilege or their oath of confidentiality can get into a lot of trouble, including disbarment. The lawyer could also face a lawsuit for professional malpractice brought by the former client.

Instances When Attorney-Client Privilege Can be Broken

Paragraph B of the ABA Rules refers to extraordinary situations where an attorney may breach their oath of confidentiality and/or attorney-client privilege. These exceptions include:

  • To prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily injury
  • To reveal a client’s intention to commit a crime (but revealing only enough information necessary to prevent the crime)

Talk to a Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney 

If you value your freedom but suddenly find yourself on the wrong side of the criminal justice system, some peace of mind can be one phone call away. Our experienced Colorado criminal defense attorneys can analyze your charges against the facts of your case and help you mount a worthy defense. Call 303-688-0944 to begin your case assessment.

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