Legal representation after an arrest is always a smart idea but never more so than after a driving under the influence (DUI) charge. This type of arrest is chock full of issues that need to be investigated – from the legality of the stop to the veracity of the field sobriety testing. Many DUI cases are dropped or the charges are reduced once a criminal defense lawyer challenges the evidence. If you are to have a successful case, you will need to be honest and forthright with your DUI attorney. Read to find out what that means to your case and how your rights are protected in that regard.
What Does This Mean for Your Case?
As long as legal systems have existed, the need to be honest with legal counsel has also existed. This long-standing right known as attorney-client privilege goes to the heart of what legal representation means to those accused of crimes. When you hire a criminal law attorney, you cannot expect them to properly represent you in court if you are unable to speak freely to them without fear of reprisal.
From the moment you first speak to your attorney, you are free to speak. That attorney can never be made to reveal what you tell them and no judge will ever ask that of them. Being able to speak freely to your lawyer means they will have all the facts they can possibly gather about the stop, the testing, the search of you and your vehicle, the field sobriety testing, and every other facet of your case.
What is Protected?
Not just the things you say, but all forms of communication fall under attorney-client privilege protection. This usually covers your communication with your attorney and their legal team when:
- Speaking in person and over the phone.
- Emailing, texting, and other online messaging platforms.
- All recorded utterances and videos or photographs.
- All written communications.
- All sign language communications.
The laws about when this privilege begins vary. In some states, simply speaking to an attorney evokes the privilege. In some, you must pay a token fee and sign an agreement to evoke the privilege. As you can see from the exceptions below, however, some things you say are not included in the attorney-client privilege.
- Future bad acts. If you say that you intend to break the law in the future, attorneys have a duty to report such things to law enforcement. For example, if after a meeting with your attorney, you admit to being drunk and intend to drive home regardless of your inebriation. This does not fall under attorney-client privilege.
- You were chatting with the attorney and never intended to ask for advice.
- You were overheard by others who are under no obligation to keep quiet about what was said.
Contact a criminal law office to learn more.