We’re confidentiality hawks. Given a choice between revealing your confidential information and not, we choose not to. Other lawyers may look for an excuse to reveal client information; we will never do this. Anything that you tell us when you are seeking our representation, or when we are representing you in a criminal case, is confidential. (Believe it or not, most lawyers don’t realize that this is the law.) That means that, without your permission, we will not reveal your confidences.
Attorney-Client Communications are Privileged
This rule applies to almost anything that you tell us about after it happens. If you’re planning to commit a crime in the future, please don’t tell us about it until you’ve done it. We’d rather not know about it until it’s done.
The law requires us to report child abuse if it has not been reported and we know about it. So if you’ve abused a child, and somebody hasn’t already reported it, let us have a nice long talk about what is and isn’t confidential before we discuss that.
A visitor to this page wrote to us:
Last, the third paragraph on the confidentiality topic was shocking. I could see where some dough-dough could interpret that as your sanctioning the committing of a crime, just don’t tell you about it until it is over. Do you really want to say that?
We’d like to see everybody treating everybody else with love and compassion. If the law were “treat everybody else with love and compassion,” we would be willing to say, flat out, “don’t break the law.”
Criminal Law & The Deferral of Ethics
But in fact we do sanction the commission of some crimes. The criminal justice system isn’t about morality or ethics; laws are written by lawyers and, worse, by politicians (I challenge you to find a less ethical group of people than politicians).
Lots of laws shouldn’t be laws; there are some laws that sometimes need to be broken. If someone were to say to us, “I need to get my child to the hospital, and I will get him there faster by driving him and breaking the speed limit than by waiting for an ambulance,” we would sanction committing that crime.
If someone were to say to us, “I have cancer and the chemo makes me nauseous and the only thing that makes me feel better is marijuana,” you bet we’d sanction committing that crime. If someone were to say, “my wife of 50 years is in continuous pain that the doctors can’t stop, and she’s begging me to help her take her own life,” we would seriously consider sanctioning that one.
It’s not our business to tell people what to do or which laws not to violate. Our job is to defend them when they screw up.