How Is Lawyer-Client Privilege Compromised In A Criminal Case?

27 February 2015
 Categories: Law, Blog


There is no question about the importance of lawyer-client privilege for criminal law suits. Thanks to this privilege, a criminal lawyer is prohibited from sharing any information relating to your case with a third party, unless you consent to this. In criminal law, anyone other than the defendant is considered a third party regardless of their relationship with the accused.

However, there are a number of ways through which the mentioned privilege can be lost. Some of these are discussed in the article below.

Public Discussion Of Case Details

One of the easiest ways for a defendant to lose lawyer-client privilege is for him or her to discuss private details of the case in the public. This can happen in a number of ways. For example, if the defendant and his or her attorney meet to discuss issues related to the case over a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop, it is possible for the coffee shop staff and other customers to over-hear details of the discussion between the lawyer and the defendant. Anyone who gets to over-hear the conversation can be contacted to give details of the case known to them.

The implication here is that all discussions related to the case should be held in a private and confidential context with little or no chance of anyone eavesdropping.

Holding Discussions In The Presence Of A Third Party

It goes without saying that criminal cases are often filled with high-running emotions and low moments. This often prompts defendants to invite the presence of their closest friends or family members during their session with the criminal lawyer for psychological and moral support.

While this may be a noble idea, it is important to note that it can compromise the confidentiality of the case because the friend or relative is a third party according to the law and is not recognized under the lawyer-client privilege agreement.

Conversations In The Jailhouse

If the accused is already in custody, jailhouse conversations between them and the lawyer can also lead to the loss of confidentiality and privilege. Jailhouses have private conversation areas where defendants and their lawyers are given room to talk. Any discussions outside this private area can tamper with case confidentiality.

In other prisons or custody stations, phone lines are used to facilitate communication between the defendant and his or her lawyer. If the prison guards or fellow inmates get wind of such jailhouse conversations, lawyer-client privilege is lost.