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When Does Attorney-Client Privilege Start and What Does It Cover?

Posted on June 7, 2021

A client needs to feel comfortable telling their attorney “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. By having open and honest conversations, the attorney can prepare the strongest possible case to support their client.

The reason that clients can freely discuss their case with their attorney and rest assured that their conversation will remain confidential is due to attorney-client privilege. According to Florida Statute 90.502, “A client has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent any other person from disclosing, the contents of confidential communications when such other person learned of the communications because they were made in the rendition of legal services to the client.” In other words, an attorney is required to keep their private communications with their client confidential.

When Attorney-Client Privilege Begins

Attorney-client privilege begins the moment you discuss a case or potential case with an attorney. Even if you have not officially hired the attorney to represent you, but you are considering hiring them and tell them the details of your situation in a private conversation, that still counts as privileged communication. The privilege extends to all private written and oral communication related to your case. Even after your case is resolved, the attorney is bound by attorney-client privilege and must maintain the confidentiality of your private communications in perpetuity.

Information Covered by Attorney-Client Privilege

As noted above, it’s important that the communication is and remains private. For example, having a conversation in your attorney’s office is a private conversation. Having a conversation in the hallway of the courthouse, where other people could overhear it, is not private and is not covered. In another example, if you have a private conversation in your attorney’s office, and then discuss it with a friend at a cocktail party, that is no longer considered private or covered by privilege. Similarly, sending an email to your attorney is private. Emailing your attorney and cc’ing someone else, even if done accidentally, is not private or covered.

Also of note, if a client communicates that they intend to commit a crime or a fraud in the future, that communication is not subject to attorney-client privilege. For example, in a personal injury case, let’s say a client tells their attorney that they actually have healed from their injuries and could return to work and their daily activities. If the client plans to testify otherwise during a trial, then that would be perpetrating fraud as well as a crime. In this case, the communication would not be subject to attorney-client privilege.

At ECanter Lawyers, we take attorney-client privilege very seriously. You can feel absolutely certain that we will not disclose any confidential information about your case without your consent. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss how we can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

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