How Much Information Should You Provide to Your Lawyer?
If you are hiring a lawyer, chances are you may be in the midst of some serious legal trouble. Whether you’re involved in court proceedings or in need of an attorney to negotiate a particular outcome, at some point you will need to sit down with your attorney and have a candid discussion regarding the nature of your problem and how you expect the attorney to resolve it. It is during this conversation that you may need to provide your attorney with sensitive information about the circumstances giving rise to your need for legal counsel. Some of this information may be extremely personal, and some may even be embarrassing, but eventually one must decide the extent of information he or she is willing to divulge, and whether to tell the lawyer the entire truth.
If you’ve ever wondered whether you can get away with leaving out some of the important details about your case, or even whether you should lie to your attorney to get a better outcome, keep in mind that lying to your attorney hurts no one but yourself! That is because an attorney who lacks important information about your case is unprepared to handle your case. The last thing you need during a serious legal matter is for your attorney to be unexpectedly surprised with information he or she has not prepared to address or resolve. In an instance like this, your attorney can miss out on achieving your desired result, or even worse, he or she can completely lose your case.
Let's Take an Example
Let’s say for instance you were charged with a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offense and you told your lawyer during your consultation that you were standing outside of your vehicle and had not been driving at the time of the offense, when in fact this was not true. Your attorney is likely to give you improper advice based upon your statements. Your attorney may advise you that having a trial is in your best interest when in fact this may not be the case. On the other hand, lets instead assume that you tell your lawyer the truth, which is, you were in fact operating a motor vehicle at the time of the offense, but do not want to go to jail because you believe you were intoxicated. Although this information may be unfavorable to you, it also opens up a plethora of legal issues and questions that the attorney can further research: Did anyone observe you driving? Were there any traffic violations committed? Did the officer have probable cause to conduct a stop of your vehicle? Did the officer violate your Constitutional Rights in any way?
Depending on your responses, by telling the truth you can potentially open up the ability for your attorney to file a motion to suppress evidence, which can sometimes lead to the dismissal of a case. This is a type of relief however, that may not have been available to you had you not told the full version of events to your lawyer. Thus, you may never fully know the legal options available to you if your attorney is never fully advised about your legal issue.
There's Still Good News
Ultimately people who tell half-truths to their lawyers often fear judgment from others or may fear their personal information could be transmitted to a third party. The good news to this issue is that attorneys are bound by ethical and professional rules when dealing with the confidential or private information of current, former, and even prospective clients. That’s right, prospective clients also receive protections. This means that even if you haven’t hired an attorney but you consult with an attorney for the purpose of anticipated legal representation, the attorney is still bound by the professional and ethical rules of his or her practicing state. However, it’s up to you to decide how best to equip your lawyer. The more valuable the information is to your lawyer, the sounder the advice is to the client, and the lawyer is also better prepared to advocate on behalf of the client. In summary, this old saying holds true in most legal matters: knowledge is power. When involved in a legal matter, you want your attorney to have the power.
If you are in need of representation in a DUI or traffic matter, a criminal defense matter, or an injury matter in Washington, D.C., feel free to contact us or call (202) 403-2292 to schedule a consultation concerning your legal matter.