My friend needs an attorney. She thinks that when she hires somebody that she should only say certain things and not everything. I thought that it makes more sense to be completely honest or what is the point? She said, no, attorneys don't want to know everything or they can't properly defend someone. What is the truth?
A client should have an open communication with their attorney. Attorney client privilege means anything said between the parties is protected and cannot be revealed to anyone. In order to properly defend someone, a client should be honest with their attorney, knowing that the conversation is protected. Only by knowing everything about the case can an attorney mount a vigorous defense on the client's behalf.
As an attorney with over 20 years experience, I can say 100% I want the whole truth. The last thing I want is to be surprised at trial or during negotiations with video or a text or some other evidence that directly contradicts what my client has told me. There is virtually no way to recover from that. There is a rule that says an attorney cannot permit a client to take the stand and testify falsely under oath. So perhaps your friend is referring to that rule when she is saying she doesn't want to be truthful because she plans to testify falsely in the future.
I am a former Brooklyn Criminal Court Deputy Bureau Chief with 20 years experience specializing in handling criminal cases. All answers are for information purposes only. Answering this question or any future questions does not form any attorney-client relationship. Be mindful, that answers are limited by the limited facts presented by the questioner and are not meant to take the place of competent legal advice by an attorney fully informed of all the facts surrounding your case. Also, be aware that nothing posted in a public forum such as this can be deemed confidential or privileged communication.
I advise all my clients to be 100% open and honest with me. I don't want to hear what you think I want to hear. I need to know the complete truth to do my job and represent the client to the fullest
She should be 110% honest with the attorney or she shouldn't really expect the attorney to be able to help her. Attorney's have an obligation to keep all communications confidential so she should feel comfortable letting them know everything.
The LAST thing you want is your attorney to be surprised while he is representing you. You have no idea how hurtful to your case it can be when, in the middle of a trial, you lean over to your attorney and go "Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you about that." It is your life and freedom that is on the line and to properly protect it you want your attorney to know everything relevant. Realize that your attorney's professional ethics require that he not put on evidence he knows to be false but seasoned criminal defense attorneys know how to deal with that and how to, despite knowing hurtful facts, represent you in the most zealous way possible.
The lawyer needs to know everything because if the lawyer makes assertions or representation to the adversary and they find out it will be bad for the case.
I am a former federal and State prosecutor and have been handling criminal defense and personal injury cases for over 19 years. The above answer, and any follow up comments or emails, is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.
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