Communications between a client and his attorney are generally privileged under the attorney-client privilege, which is a legal and ethical concept that preserves the confidentiality of communications between a client and his attorney. This means that, in the absence of any exception or waiver, neither an attorney nor a client may be compelled to divulge confidential communications between an attorney and client which were made during the rendition of legal services.
If you are thinking about using a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney to represent you in a criminal matter, it is important that you understand the attorney-client privilege. While the attorney-client privileges applies in all types of legal matters, it is especially important in criminal matters where clients often tell their lawyers information that could be extremely damaging if disclosed. In Florida, the attorney-client privilege is governed by Section 90.502 of the Florida Statutes which provides: “A client has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent any other person from disclosing, the contents of confidential communications when such other person learned of the communications because they were made in the rendition of legal services to the client.”
The following four elements must be established in order for the attorney-client privilege to apply: (1) a communication; (2) made between privileged persons; (3) in confidence; and; (4) for the purpose of seeking, obtaining, or providing legal assistance to the client.
Keep in mind that the attorney-client privilege is not absolute. Even if the above four elements are established and the requirements of Section 90.502 are met, the attorney-client privilege does not exists in these five circumstances: (1) when a client seeks or obtains an attorney to aid in the commission of a crime or in the planning of future criminal activity; (2) when the communication between a client and an attorney is relevant to an issue between two or more parties who claim through the same deceased clients; (3) when an issue relates to a breach of the duties the attorney owes his client; (4) when an attorney acts as a witness to a legal document for a client such and an issue arises concerning the intention or competence of the client who executed the document ; and (5) when a lawyer acts as an attorney for two or more persons who have a common interest, neither of those clients may assert the privilege relating to communications with the lawyer in a subsequent action in which the clients are adverse parties.
The attorney-client privilege and the duty of confidentiality is an integral part of being an effective, ethical, and law-abiding attorney. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime and are considering hiring a Miami or Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney, know that the South Florida criminal defense attorneys at the Law Firm of Yale L. Galanter take these obligations very seriously.
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