If you are currently facing criminal charges, and you are not familiar with how the criminal justice system works, you are likely feeling confused and concerned along with being worried about the eventual outcome of your case. Hopefully, you realize the importance of hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you throughout the prosecution of your case. If you have never needed a criminal defense attorney before, however, you likely have a number of questions about how the attorney-client relationship works. For example, you may wonder if you should admit your guilt to your criminal defense attorney.
Does Your Attorney Need to Know If You Are Guilty?
The first thing to keep in mind is that the prosecution has the burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in any criminal prosecution. The American criminal justice system presumes that an accused is innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, your attorney’s job is not to prove that you are innocent but to ensure that you are not convicted unless the State has met its burden. Consequently, your attorney does not usually need to know if you are guilty or innocent of the charges against you. In fact, many defense attorneys prefer not to know the answer to the question of guilt. One reason for this is that if you admit guilt to your attorney, your attorney cannot then knowingly allow you to take the stand and commit perjury. Knowing you are guilty effectively limits the defense strategies that your attorney can use which is one reason your attorney may not ever directly ask you if you committed the crime for which you are charged.
If I Admit Guilt, Can My Lawyer Tell Anyone?
Maybe you feel compelled to admit your guilt to someone and your attorney seems like a good choice; however, you are concerned that your attorney will tell someone about your admission. As a general rule, this is not a concern because the attorney-client relationship almost always prohibits an attorney from repeating anything you tell him/her in confidence. There are, however, exceptions to the general rule. Specifically, the Nebraska Rules of Professional Conduct govern the attorney-client relationship. Rule 1.6 of the Rules governs the issue of confidentiality, stating as follows:
(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b).
(b) A lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary:
(1) to prevent the client from committing a crime or to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm;
(2) to secure legal advice about the lawyer’s compliance with these Rules;
(3) to establish a claim or defense on behalf of the lawyer in a controversy between the lawyer and the client, to establish a defense to a criminal charge or civil claim against the lawyer based upon conduct in which the client was involved or to respond to allegations in any proceeding concerning the lawyer’s representation of the client; or
(4) to comply with other law or a court order.
(c) The relationship between a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association Committee on the Nebraska Lawyers Assistance Program or an employee of the Nebraska Lawyers Assistance Program and a lawyer who seeks or receives assistance through that committee or that program shall be the same as that of lawyer and client for the purposes of the application of Rule 1.6.
Contact a Nebraska Criminal Defense Attorney at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in the State of Nebraska, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney right away to discuss possible defenses. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.