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Understanding attorney-client privilege

On Behalf of | Jun 28, 2018 | Criminal Defense |

When one has been accused of and arrested for a crime in Wheeling, he or she will need all of the help and support that is available in order to endure the ordeal that may be ahead. A major source of that assistance may come from his or her attorney. Thus, it is essential that an attorney and an accused share a trusting relationship. The principle of attorney client privilege allows for this. According to the American Bar Association, attorney-client privilege prohibits a lawyer from sharing any information revealed to him or her by a client related to that client’s representation (without, that is, the client’s consent). 

How far does such protection go? Most are surprised how far this privilege extends. Not only can an attorney not share information that a client shares with him or her confidence, but he or she is also barred from sharing anything he or she happens to learn in relation to a case, regardless of the source from which it originates. Even information that a lawyer learns after his or her client’s formal proceedings have ended is protected under privilege. The protection itself is indefinite, surviving even a client’s death. 

It should be known, however, that there are exceptions to attorney-client privilege. The most notable of these is the “crime-fraud” exception. The National Review explains that the crime-fraud exception compels attorneys to share information that a client divulges that may contribute to the commission or cover-up of a crime. An attorney also might be forced under the compulsion of law to share information normally protected by attorney-client privilege. Plus, even though an attorney cannot share information about a client’s representation that comes from external sources, those sources can share it with others who are not covered under the client confidentiality rights.