It is commonly thought that the communication between an attorney and their
client is completely confidential, meaning that any statements or recordings
cannot be repeated in the court without the consent of the client. A client
can admit guilt to an attorney, but the attorney still cannot admit this
in a court of law. However, there are some instances where attorney-client
confidentiality does not apply.
Public Speech is Not Confidential
Knowing what speech is protected and what is not can make a difference
in any case. When children, family members, or valuable property is on
the line, ensuring that a person does not incriminate themselves can make
a huge difference in the outcome of a court case.
Some of the ways that a person can break attorney-client confidentiality is:
- Speaking loudly in a public place or when others can overhear the conversation
- Phone conversations that may be monitored
- Asking third parties to be present in a meeting with an attorney
- Disclosing information to those outside of the court case
In these scenarios, a person may lose their right to confidentiality when
they invite a third-party into the case. Any time that a person besides
the attorney and their client are exposed to the details of the case,
confidentiality may not hold up in court, and the court may determine
that these facts are admissible in court since they were discussed in
a public place, not a lawyer's office.
A key component of confidentiality is that there can only be confidentiality
where it is expected. Speaking about the details of the case when in a
lawyer's office with no one else around is the only guaranteed confidentiality
a person may have. When details are discussed in public, the assumption
that any person could hear personal details is enough to waive confidentiality.
For those involved in sensitive family law cases, confidentiality is key.
Be wary of speaking about the case with any person that is not your attorney
to avoid complications that can arise due to a breach in confidentiality.