I am facing serious felony charges. Even though I in my 20s, I would like my family to sit in on my meetings with my public defender, and they want to too. My lawyer says he will only meet with me. Who gets to decide and should I find a new lawyer?
There are probably a couple of reasons why
1) how freely are you going to talk in front of your family about the circumstances etc?
2) if you have a third party present you may end up waiving attorney clien privilege. If it waives, your family could be called to testify about what you said, especially if you admit you did it...
You may be able to allow him to discuss certain things with them after the fact but not have them there. Honestly I follow his advice.....I have retagged this
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I agree with the prior answer that there are very good reasons why an attorney wants to have meetings to discuss certain things exclusively with a defendant, and you should work with your attorney to do this. That being said, if you're agreeing to meet with your attorney privately at his suggestion to have certain discussions, I think its then reasonable for you to ask to have your family be a part of other meetings where their presence is appropriate.
No, family sitting in on lawyer conferences for a serious felony is a very bad idea, since your family members can be subpoenaed by the DA to testify against you. In court, the can then be forced to testify regarding everything that you told the lawyer, unlike your lawyer who has legal privilege to say "no" to such a subpoena, under the United States and WI constitutions. Don't change lawyers just because of this, because any experienced felony lawyer would require the same thing.
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As others have already noted, you have no attorney/client privilege in a meeting attended by any third party that doesn't work for the lawyer. If your lawyer is a public defender, they may appoint a new lawyer for you once, but you don't get to shop for a lawyer that will tell you and your parents what they want to hear. Furthermore, that would not be in your best interest. I have met few parents who don't think that their child is special, the law is too harsh, that they should be entitled to a pass because it is the first time, and so on. Some parents also have trouble accepting that their chlld may have a substance abuse problem, and engage in denial that leads to enabling behavior. There is a fine line between having family help make a decision, and using family to try and pressure a lawyer to tell you what you want to hear.
This answer is provided for general information only. No legal advice can be given without a consult as to the specifics of the case.
Your attorney has no duty to discuss anything with your parents or other family members. Your attorney DOES have a duty to protect attorney-client privilege and to maintain attorney-client confidentiality. That being said, I do my best to explain to all of my clients and their family members or friends that I will only discuss the facts of the case with my client alone. If my client gives me permission to discuss procedure and other aspects of the case that do not include the specific facts, I will make every effort to do that. However, I do not have a duty to do this and if time constraints dictate that I need to "cut to the chase" so to speak, I will insist on meetings with my client alone. Friends and/or family members who think they know more than the attorney about the law or the appropriate plea offers for the circumstances are often a serious hindrance to resolving a case with the best outcome possible for the facts. Respect your attorney's advice with respect to this issue unless you feel that the attorney is not doing an adequate job of representing you. If that is the case, then ask for a new attorney. If that attorney tells you the same things as the prior attorney, then you (and your family/friends) are probably not looking at the case the right way.
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This is a common issue in criminal cases and family law matters. People want want bring family or friends into their lawyer meeting for either moral support or to make sure that they aren't missing something or not understanding what the lawyer is saying. The problem is that you waive attorney client privilege by doing so and arguably those persons sitting in on the meetings could by subpoenaed and ask to reveal everything you told the lawyer or what the lawyer told you. You could also be compelled arguably to reveal that information. It is for that reason and your own protection, that you leave any third party out of your discussions with your lawyer.
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