The majority of California residents understand the concept of attorney-client privilege as it applies to the protections afforded to those involved in criminal cases and trials, but how about as it applies to business and civil-related matters? Movies and television shows have taught most people that even if you confess the depths of your depravity to your attorney like you were in a confessional booth, it does not matter. They are legally barred from telling anyone else about anything you said. This is mostly true, as outlined in California Evidence Code 954, and in various case laws, as well as by standards set by state courts, federal courts, and the American Bar Association. Private communication between an attorney and his clients are usually regarded as privileged. Like all rules, however, it comes with a few exceptions.
The two most popular of which are:
- You expressed an intention to do later harm (not a crime already committed)
- Concerns of fraud
Concerns of Fraud
It is the second exception to the rule that most frequently comes into play when dealing with matters of civil law. If you communicate to your attorney your intention to perpetuate and do in fact perpetuate, fraud against the court, via the submission of misleading or untrue testimony or forged documents, attorney/client privilege might not guard you.
Relationship Between Attorney and Client
For attorney/client privilege to actually take effect and all of your communications to fall under its protection, a legitimate attorney-client relationship must already exist. This does not necessarily mean that money needs to exchange hands. It is, however, usually prudent to hold back any information or other particulars from a civil attorney until after they have confirmed in writing that the attorney/client privilege now extends to you.
Obligation of Confidentiality
Clients of a civil attorney are provided an additional tier of protection on top of the attorney/client prerogative by the Duty of Confidentiality, as outlawed by ABA standards and the Code of Ethics. This dictates that an attorney is legally compelled to retain their clients’ confidences even after their working relationship has come to a close and the attorney no longer represents them or after the client has passed away.
Altogether, there is actually a very wide net of security for any type of communication between an experienced business contract attorney and their client and the exceptions to that confidentiality are usually defined very narrowly.
Because these exceptions exist, however, it is essential that you let your attorney know if you have any worries concerning privacy during your free consultation at Leiva Law Firm. Call our law offices at 818-519-4465 and speak with a qualified attorney to ensure that vital documents and other communications stay secure and protected. Our attorneys speak both English and Spanish.