If you have committed a crime (or even if you haven’t), it is in your best interest to talk with an attorney immediately. It is also in your best interest to talk as openly as possible. You may be embarrassed by some of the details of your situation, and some of the information you have to share may be legally damaging. It doesn’t matter; what’s done is done, and your attorney is legally bound to keep the facts of your past actions confidential. In fact, your lawyer needs as many facts as possible in order to fully develop your case with the best chance of receiving a favorable outcome—or at the very least a less-harsh outcome.
It is important to note, however, that not all information is protected. For instance, a lawyer can break this privilege and reveal information which he or she reasonably believes is necessary to “prevent harm or substantial financial loss to another as a result of client criminal conduct or third party criminal conduct” or “to prevent serious injury or death” (Rule 1.6). If the client has already acted but the harm or loss has not yet occurred, the attorney still has the legal right and responsibility to reveal such information. In such instances, if feasible, an attorney can only use or disclose such information after having attempted to persuade the client either a) not to act or b) to warn the victim if he or she has already acted.
There are other specific instances in which an attorney can break the attorney-client privilege, but generally speaking, your words are safe with your legal counselor.
When does the attorney-client privilege begin and end?
As attorneys, we have a legal duty to keep confidential information that our clients disclose to us in the course of our professional relationship. From the moment you call or communicate in any way with a lawyer, that communication is protected under the attorney-client privilege outlined in Rule 1.6 of the Georgia bar rules. These are the rules that all Georgia attorneys must follow in order to practice law, whatever their focus. There is mixed information out there about when the attorney-client relationship begins. In the state of Georgia, information that a prospective client gives to an attorney when discussing the possibility of “forming a client-lawyer relationship” must also be held in confidentiality. Therefore, the attorney-client privilege begins at the first point of communication and continues after the professional relationship has terminated.
To begin discussing the details of your case with an Atlanta criminal defense attorney, call Pak and McRae Law, LLC or fill out the form above to request a consultation. Our office is a safe place for you at a time when it may feel like the whole world is against you. Let the attorney-client privilege protect you—call today.