When you are caught up in a legal or criminal matter, the law allows you to seek legal representation. To benefit from effective representation, however, it is important that you provide as much detail regarding your case as possible to your lawyer. And for this to happen, you must trust that your attorney will handle your conversations with the utmost confidentiality. This is known as attorney-client privilege.
But while it is a common assumption that all conversations between you and your attorney are protected, the truth of the matter is there are certain exceptions to this broad legal protection.
What is the purpose of attorney-client privilege?
Basically, the court advocates for a full disclosure of any and all material and information relevant to a case for one obvious reason: to ensure that justice is served. Thus, the doctrine of attorney-client privilege helps to ensure that there is open and frank communication between an attorney and their client.
Limits to attorney-client privilege
With that said, your attorney is generally under no obligation to uphold attorney-client privilege under the following circumstances:
When you want to further a crime – you cannot seek your attorney’s indulgence to further a crime. In other words, any disclosure or confession of an intention to commit a crime in the future in not protected by this privilege. However, your post-crime confessions and disclosures are protected.
When they violate common interest – If the attorney is representing several parties (including you) in the same legal matter, then you cannot assert attorney-client privilege against the other parties in subsequent litigations as long as such litigation is related to a past joint representation.
Protecting your interests
Your attorney has a duty to act in your interests while representing you. If they violate your attorney-client privilege, then you deserve justice. Seeking legal guidance concerning a potential legal malpractice action may be to your benefit.