Few people ever imagine that they will be arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI), and when it happens to you it's only natural to feel isolated and terrified of the possible consequences. Fortunately, you will have at least one person on your side to help and support you through the stressful process of appearing in court and the potential for punitive actions: a dui attorney. While it's comforting to know that you have a professional legal advocate on your side, you may wonder how candid you can be with them. Can you really trust that the information you provide to your attorney in regard to your DUI case is completely confidential? Read on to learn more about your rights to confidentiality.
Attorney Client Privilege
You may have heard of the term "attorney client privilege", but never thought it would apply to you or that you would need to have a good understanding of what it means. This legal concept is the result of the US justice system's credo that an attorney cannot be expected to provide their client with a good defense against charges if the client fears giving the attorney full disclosure for fear of the consequences.
What does this mean for you? From the very first moment you speak to your attorney (or anyone on the legal staff), anything you say is considered completely confidential; the attorney will never be compelled to disclose any information you provide to them. This privilege covers everything you say, send electronically, text, write or convey by any means possible. Moreover, the attorney client privilege extends to all past acts, never expires and exists even if you fail to actually hire that attorney or ever pay them a dime.
Exceptions to Attorney Client Privilege
This powerful and all-encompassing legal provision does have its limits, however. If you have been arrested for DUI, you should take care to take the following exceptions to attorney client privilege into account:
- The presence of third parties. Many people need some support for their first appointments with their new attorney, and it may seem only natural to bring along a close family member or trusted friend. Unfortunately, this urge for support could end up nullifying the attorney client privilege. Any time there is a third party present, or there exists the potential for others (not on your legal team) to overhear your conversations with your attorney, the attorney client privilege could be in jeopardy.
- Your Intention. You must have the full intention to speak with an attorney for a specific purpose for the privilege to be valid. For example, if you strike up a conversation with another person while waiting to see the doctor with someone who just happens to be a lawyer and your chat leads to legal advice, it may not qualify as information covered under attorney client privilege since your intention was not to seek legal advice.
- Future Bad Acts. While all past actions are covered, if you make reference to criminal acts that could occur in the future, the privilege does not protect you. If your query is in the form of a hypothetical situation, however, the privilege is intact.
Be sure to discuss this powerful right further with your DUI attorney; it's better to seek advice before you speak if you are unsure.