In order to keep your correspondence confidential, your lawyer has a legal responsibility. There are also a few other relationships of privilege, such as contact between spouses and physicians. But in order to preserve that privacy, it is necessary to understand precisely how and when you must communicate, and what kinds of communications can not be covered.
We have all watched a legal drama unfold on TV where individuals can withhold data because they demand “privilege.” Beware, not everything you see on TV is exactly how it operates in an actual court of law.
Privileged correspondence, however, is a genuine legal concept that exists both in the form of criminal and civil proceedings.
Privileged communications are contacts between two persons which, because of the relationship between those individuals, the law considers to be privileged. That means that whatever is said or otherwise shared between those entities will remain confidential and either entity, including law enforcement officials or the courts, can not be required by the law to share it with someone else.
These are the relationships to which privileged communications are entitled:
Client and Solicitor
Patient and Doctor (or therapist and patient)
Clergy and congregation (rabbi, priest, or some other religious official)
Client and Accountant
Sources and reporters (in some states)
The object of professional relationships shielded by privilege (advocate/client, physician/patient, etc.) is to protect the client or patient. That individual has the right to have confidential communications maintained with their professional provider. The client or patient, however, may still opt to waive that right and allow the contact to be shared with those persons publicly or directly.
Privilege refers to mutual contact in an atmosphere that can be considered to be private.
Privilege also refers to correspondence, both spoken and written. This involves the exchange of information in most nations, in person, by telephone, text, email, letter, or by some other means of private transmission.
The act of making new or confidential knowledge public is disclosure. In other words, a fact or information that was previously confidential or secret is being shared.
Confidentiality prevents a lawyer from testifying to a client’s claims. A lawyer owes a duty of confidentiality to their client, which ensures they should not speak to someone else about details that the client has shared with them. All client-related private details must be kept confidential.
Learn about legal words that are more popular.
If you are in a private environment such as a doctor’s office, any other person who is the professional’s representative (for example, the nurse) will be expected to keep any details overheard confidential.
However, if the same communication were exchanged on a commuter bus, in a crowded restaurant, or on social media, since those are spaces where other people can overhear or interpret it, it will lose privilege.
This is the essence of spousal privilege: the legislation aims for partners to have an open and trustworthy relationship. That ensures that private conversations should not be disclosed (i.e. shared) between you and your spouse outside of the marriage, and you can not be compelled to testify in court against your spouse. This includes rights exchanged during the wedding, even though you are no longer married.
A spouse may, of course, choose to testify against her spouse, but they can not be required to do so.
When attorney-client privilege applies, there are 3 special circumstances:
If you ask a lawyer for legal advice, even if you have not yet become a client, when the lawyer works in a legal capacity (for the sake of professional representation, you have contacted a lawyer; do not talk with a friend who happens to be a lawyer).
When you (the client) plan to be private and handle the contact in that manner (the information is exchanged over the phone or in the office of your solicitor and not in a crowded public place).
During the discovery time of the litigation, attorney-client privilege becomes most important in a personal injury lawsuit. The object of the privilege is to make it easier for you to share all the necessary details with your lawyer.
But you never want to say anything to your solicitor that will keep them from thoroughly and accurately representing you. You should never place your attorney in a position that would require them to commit fraud on your behalf, and if they think that you are going to lie under oath, they will not put you on the stand.