Law Office of Dattan Scott Dattan - Anchorage Criminal Defense Lawyers

What Does Attorney-Client Privilege Mean?

The legal world is full of terms which are not used in everyday commonly used speech. Unless you have a reason to need an attorney you would probably never have much need to know what many of these terms mean. Of course, avid fans of TV crime and legal drama series like Law & Order or Boston Legal often do hear legal terms used without necessarily having them explained in detail.

One of the most important legal principles that affect your relationship with your attorney is that of attorney-client privilege. Attorney-client privilege is one of the founding principles of the American legal system. Attorney-client privilege basically means that whatever the reason you are communicating with your attorney, as long as it is for legal reasons, you can be assured that what you say will not go any further.

Confidence is important in the American legal system because it means that important information can be shared which might not otherwise be shared. This is particularly important if you are asking for advice or legal help over a possible criminal offense you may have committed or if you have already been charged with a criminal offense. If you cannot trust your attorney with what you tell them, you may be reluctant to tell the truth or not tell as much you may not obtain the best legal advice. Likewise, unless an attorney is sure that you are confident enough to share whatever information you wish to divulge, he/she cannot provide the best legal advice that they can give you.

In the end, the fact that attorney-client privilege exists promotes compliance with the law as it allows communication to flow more freely.

The 5 Cs of attorney-client privilege

One way of explaining attorney-client privilege better is to refer to the 5Cs. These are:

  • Communication;
  • Confidence;
  • Client;
  • Counsel;
  • Legal counsel.

Communication could be oral, i.e. word of mouth, in person or by phone, by email, text message, or in writing.

Confidence means that whatever has been communicated must only be shared between the client and the attorney. If the client deliberately or inadvertently shares the information that he/she has shared with the attorney with anyone else, then this breaks the “privilege.” This loss of privilege is also called ‘waiving’ the privilege. It is the fact that communication shared is in confidence that allows the client to be more truthful and share more information than if there was doubt whether the information would be passed on to someone else.

The information shared must originate from the client. The client may or may not have an established relationship with the attorney with which that information is shared. This means that even if you have approached an attorney before retaining them to represent you, the principle of attorney-client privilege still prevails. That attorney is expected to treat whatever you say in confidence.

The counsel is the attorney with which the client shares information in confidence. When you establish communication with an attorney, there may be other people who work for that attorney’s law firm, such as paralegals. These additional legal professionals are also included in the same attorney-client privilege relationship.

The final C relates to the reason why the communication is being shared. It must be for legal counsel, in other words for legal advice. This particularly has relevance to corporate clients who can still be considered ‘clients’ as far as attorney-client privilege is concerned as long as the advice remains of a legal nature and doesn’t stray into another category such as business advice.

Attorney-client privilege is a cornerstone of the American legal system

You can be confident that whatever reason you need legal help from the Law Office of Dattan Scott Dattan in Anchorage, whatever information you wish to share will remain absolutely confidential. Dattan Scott Dattan is an experienced criminal defense attorney who will fight to represent your interests in court. You can contact the Law Office of Dattan Scott Dattan in Anchorage at 907-276-8008.

Law Office of Dattan Scott Dattan

341 West Tudor RD, Suite 103 Anchorage, AK 99503
Phone: (907) 276-8008 URL of Map

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