Attorney-Client Privilege: What’s Included, When it Begins, and More
The attorney-client privilege is a bedrock of our country’s legal system designed to keep secret all communications between an attorney and their client that are meant to be confidential.
A Denver personal injury attorney with Zaner Harden Law will always keep anything you tell us completely confidential, unless you direct us otherwise. We’re committed to providing our clients with high-level services, and do everything we can to help them obtain the compensation they deserve when they’ve suffered harm due to the negligence of others.
Continue reading to learn how attorney-client privilege works and what it protects. If you would like to learn more or schedule a free case review, please call Zaner Harden Law at 720-640-6852 or use our online contact form to schedule your free personal injury consultation.
What’s Included in Attorney-Client Privilege
The attorney-client privilege is a key element in the relationship between an attorney and their client, providing benefits to both sides.
The privilege gives clients a sense of confidence knowing that what they tell their lawyer can’t be disclosed to anyone else unless the client gives their attorney permission to share the information. For the attorney, the privilege encourages better communication. The client will be more likely to share all the information the attorney needs in order to provide the best representation possible.
In Colorado, the privilege protects all communications between a client and lawyer. This includes not only in-person conversations, but also texts, emails, written letters or notes, and phone calls.
All Confidential Communications
If you tell a friend something that’s confidential, that friend isn’t legally bound to keep it a secret, but your lawyer is. What you say is limited to you and your attorney–no one else.
Anyone who is helping the attorney in your legal representation, such as an investigator or a paralegal, is bound to the same rules of confidentiality.
It’s important to note that the privilege only extends to communications that have the main purpose of seeking legal advice, or providing legal advice. If you choose to have a conversation with your attorney and a stranger, a friend, or someone else who isn’t part of your legal team is present, the privilege will not exist.
Suppose you send an email to your attorney asking about a component of your personal injury case and you copy a friend (either accidentally or on purpose) who receives the same message. In this instance, the privilege disappears, whether or not you intended the question to be confidential.
Privilege, Not a Right: Exclusions in Attorney-Client Privilege
This is a huge point that you should always remember: the attorney-client privilege doesn’t entitle you to complete confidentiality in all situations. There are some exceptions.
There are certain instances where a lawyer will be allowed to break confidentiality, often called the “crime-fraud exception.” These include the following:
- The attorney is certain that withholding information could lead to someone suffering significant injury or death.
- The client says that they plan on committing a crime and the attorney has sufficient information to keep that crime from happening.
- The attorney is certain that the client is planning to commit an act of fraud that will lead to the victim suffering substantial financial losses.
A lawyer will need to prove to the court that there are grounds to break confidentiality. They will have to show that the client asked for legal advice, and planned to use that advice to either commit a fraudulent or criminal act.
When Attorney-Client Privilege Begins and Ends
As soon as you have a consultation with an attorney, the attorney-client privilege goes into effect, even if you don’t hire them. This is true whether you make a phone call, show up to the attorney’s office, or just send an email or a text.
If you’re seeking legal advice, you’re establishing a client-attorney relationship. You don’t need the attorney on retainer for the privilege to be in effect.
The attorney-client privilege continues forever, even upon the client’s death, which isn’t the case in all states. In Colorado, if a client dies, their attorney still has the duty to keep all communications confidential. This is true whether the person was actively being represented, or if they were a former client.
In short, attorney-client privilege begins with a consultation and never ends, not upon death, and not upon the conclusion of a case.
You Have the Right to Waive Attorney-Client Privilege
Although the attorney must uphold confidentiality, the client has control over the attorney-client privilege. This means that the client decides whether to assert the privilege or to waive it.
Our Dedicated Denver Injury Lawyers are Here to Help
The attorneys with Zaner Harden Law always conduct themselves in accordance with the highest ethical standards. We take the attorney-client privilege extremely seriously, and we will never do anything to jeopardize the trust of our Colorado community and the people we serve.
Our attorneys are very passionate about what they do, and are committed to delivering the best possible results on behalf of all our clients.
If you would like to learn more about us or if you would like to know what we may be able to do for you regarding your personal injury case, we invite you to contact us at any time. Just contact us online or call 720-640-6852 and we’ll schedule your free consultation.
Contact our Denver Personal Injury Law Firm Today For Help