What is Attorney-Client Privilege, and Why Does it Matter in Criminal Cases?

In criminal cases, attorney-client privilege is an important concept that protects the confidentiality of information you share with your lawyer. It’s based on the idea that clients should be able to honestly and openly discuss their cases with their lawyers without fear of repercussions.

Attorney-Client Privilege in Plain English

Put simply, attorney-client privilege means that the things you say to your lawyer are confidential. That includes:

  • Conversations
  • Emails
  • Letters
  • Documentation, such as bills, phone records and bank information
  • Anything else you share

A few key points to remember about attorney-client privilege include:

  • The privilege applies only to communication with a lawyer. It doesn’t apply to conversations with paralegals or legal secretaries, for example.
  • The privilege protects you from having your confidential communications revealed in court or elsewhere. In some instances, it can also keep the government and police from compelling your attorney to testify against you.
  • The privilege stays intact even after you die. Your lawyer can’t reveal anything to anyone else unless your will or other legal document states otherwise.

Related: Can your lawyer tell on you?

Why Does Attorney-Client Privilege Matter?

Attorney-client privilege is a cornerstone of the criminal justice system. It helps ensure that people accused of crimes have access to fair and effective legal representation and that they can speak freely and honestly with their lawyers without fear of retribution.

It’s important to note that attorney-client privilege doesn’t protect you from revealing information voluntarily or as part of a plea agreement. You can also choose to waive your right to privilege if you wish.

Related: The 5 things cops look for when they want to pull you over for DUI in Illinois

Attorney-Client Privilege and Police Investigations

In the context of a police investigation, the privilege is particularly important. That’s because anything you tell your lawyer can’t be used to incriminate you in court.

For example, suppose a defendant tells his lawyer that he committed a robbery but then pleads not guilty in court. The lawyer doesn’t have to reveal the defendant’s comment to the prosecutor or anyone else.

Related: 7 things you should never do when police stop you

The Bottom Line

Attorney-client privilege is an important concept that protects your confidential communications with your lawyer and helps ensure you get a fair trial. It’s critical that you understand it fully so that you can make informed decisions about how best to protect yourself. Knowing your rights, and understanding how attorney-client privilege works can make all the difference in a criminal case.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the privilege is not absolute — there are certain circumstances, such as plea agreements or when you voluntarily disclose information, where it may be waived. If you’re concerned, you should talk to your attorney.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney?

If you’ve been accused of a crime, we may be able to help you – and don’t worry: It’s completely confidential. Call us at 847-920-4540 or fill out the form below to schedule your free, private consultation with an experienced and skilled Chicago criminal defense attorney now.

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