Are you wondering if you can admit a crime to your lawyer? Let’s say you have been charged with one of the most serious crimes, murder. The police tell you that you have the right to call a lawyer.
Hopefully, you exercise your right to do so. You get on the phone, and the lawyer tells you not to talk to the police. As the movies say “Anything you do or say can be used against you in the court of law.”
You wait for your lawyer to show up at the police station or the jail. Now you are in a room with them. Can the police listen to your conservation?
No, they are not allowed to. You have a right to have a private conversation with your lawyer.
You Killed Someone, Now What?
Let’s assume you committed the act, you killed someone. Is it murder? Are you going to be sentenced to life in jail? Not necessarily.
You may have killed in self-defence. Or perhaps you didn’t know what you were doing because you had a mental issue. Maybe you didn’t mean to kill them and are guilty of a less serious crime.
Your lawyer can’t tell you what to do if you are not honest with them. So, can you admit to a crime to your lawyer?
Can you admit a crime to your lawyer?
The short answer is yes. You are protected by something called client-attorney (or lawyer) privilege.
Anything you discuss with your lawyer is protected, also known as privileged. If you tell your lawyer you murdered someone, they won’t share this with the police.
If you want to see a good example of a privileged situation, watch the movie “The Firm” with Tom Cruise. In the movie, he is the attorney for the Chicago mafia.
Hiring Lawyers For Other Reasons | Admit A Crime
People that hire lawyers for other legal matters, like moving money around, are also protected. The lawyer won’t share information about bank details or where you live.
The lawyer will share the information with other lawyers at their law firm. However, no lawyer at the firm will share the information with anyone outside of the law firm.
A lawyer cannot give you proper legal advice if you are not honest with them. If you committed a crime, the lawyer needs to know this. They can then help you either plead guilty or come up with the best defence possible. Your attorney will also need to be ready for your bail hearing.
A lawyer or law firm is not able to help you break the law. If you tell a lawyer that you want to move millions of dollars of drug money into the country, they cannot assist. The client-lawyer privilege does not mean the lawyer can help you break the law.
Can you confess a crime to your lawyer?
If you have not committed the criminal act yet, the lawyer would possibly even have to report it. You might say that you are planning to murder a child, the lawyer will have to act to stop this from happening.
If you tell the lawyer you are planning to kill yourself, the lawyer will have to act.
However, if you are already charged with a crime, the lawyer will keep your secrets. Privilege is not the same thing as confidentiality.
Author: Alistair Vigier is the CEO of ClearWay Law