Who can you talk to about your criminal case? Here’s why your defense attorney is the only one you should completely trust.
Anyone that has ever been charged with a crime knows that it’s an incredibly stressful, confusing and emotional time. Regardless of if you’re guilty or innocent, it’s only natural to want to talk to someone about what you’re going through, which will often include details of your criminal case. With so many thoughts swirling around in your head, it feels almost therapeutic to talk to someone – anyone – about your charges.
But, should you?
There will be plenty of people that will want to talk to you about your criminal case, including law enforcement, investigators and even the prosecution. You might also want to turn to friends, family or social media to state your side of the story. It’s important to remember that anything you say can be used against you, meaning there’s a good reason to keep details about your case strictly between you and your criminal defense attorney.
Invoking Your Right to Remain Silent
The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides a number of protections, one of the most important being the protection against self-incrimination for criminal defendants – commonly referenced as the right to remain silent. (1)
When you are arrested for a crime, you must be informed of your Miranda rights at some point before anyone, including law enforcement on the scene, can begin questioning you about the events or your involvement in them. The reason for this is that as the defendant, you are incredibly vulnerable and even the slightest misstep in wording or confusing one detail can be used against you in court.
One should also keep in mind that there is a chance that their friends, associates and even certain family members can be questioned about the case, meaning that it’s equally important to use caution when discussing the details of the case with anyone.
The Miranda Law not only protects your right to remain silent, but it also ensures that you are aware of your right to have a lawyer present and that if you are unable to afford one, that one will be provided for you. It’s crucial that you invoke this right because your attorney is the one person that you should trust when discussing your criminal case.
Understanding Attorney-Client Privilege
The one person that you can, and should, speak to about every detail of your case is your attorney. Not only does the person or team defending you need to know all the accurate and truthful details of your case to prepare the most effective defense, but you are also protected from further incrimination through something called attorney-client privilege.
Any statements you make to your attorney, including details about the events and your guilt or innocence, cannot be revealed or used against you. Furthermore, your attorney cannot be ordered to stand witness against you during a trial. Everything that you say to your attorney is legally bound to remain in the strictest confidence unless you agree, that for the benefit of your testimony or to negotiate a plea deal, that certain details should be revealed.
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Keep in mind that attorney-client privilege does not extend into possible future offenses. For example, if you admit to your attorney that you committed murder, that information cannot be revealed. However, if you make a statement to your attorney that if you are released, you plan to commit another crime against a certain person, they can reveal that information in order protect your intended target.
Can You Discuss Criminal Charges with Anyone Else?
Technically, you can discuss criminal charges with anyone you want, but in most cases, it’s best to reserve discussion until after you’ve negotiated a plea or gone to trial and received a verdict. One should always use caution when discussing their criminal charges with law enforcement without a lawyer present.
Often, officers of the law will use specific tactics that fall within the realm of being completely legal to encourage you to speak. For example, they might say that they have a few questions and that it’s no big deal or that you have the right, but it’s not really necessary to have an attorney present for the questions they have.
As a defendant in a criminal case, you do have a certain level of protection when speaking to a very limited selection of people other than your attorney. For instance, there is client privilege when speaking to a therapist, unless the charges involve a minor, in which case they may be mandated to report any evidence.
In some cases, you can also talk to your spouse about the details of your case, but again it is wise to use caution. The state of Texas provides spousal immunity and marital communication privilege. This privilege means that in most cases your spouse cannot be called to testify or serve as a witness against you, unless they voluntarily choose to do so. A defendant does have the right to protect certain details that were communicated to the spouse in confidence under the marital communications privilege, except in cases that involve harm against the spouse or a minor child.
Contact a Dallas Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve been charged with a crime, the very first thing you should do is contact a Dallas criminal defense attorney to represent you and speak on your behalf. It’s never wise to discuss any details of your case with someone before talking to an attorney. Don’t let a minor verbal slipup cost you your freedoms. Contact an experienced defense attorney today.
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Broden & Mickelsen
Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case.