What Should You Tell Your Attorney?

I wrote a blog post several months ago about what you should tell the police if you are stopped. I had said that you should only say what's absolutely necessary, and not volunteer any information. The same is not true, however, when you hire an attorney.

There are very strict confidentiality rules for attorneys. In general, if you tell us something, we can't repeat that information except under very limited circumstances. So, unlike with the police, anything you say will NOT be used against you. It doesn't matter what kind of case you have: Criminal, DUI, Personal Injury, Social Security Disability…the same rule applies to all attorney communications.

It is extremely important for attorneys to know anything that could have even a minimal impact on your case. Even if you don't think it's important, but it has to do with your case, you should tell your attorney. It is an all-to-often occurrence where a client doesn't tell me something important, or even something that could adversely affect their case, and I'm blindsided at the most inopportune time. It doesn't just happen to me; I see it happen to other attorneys fairly frequently when I'm in court.

For example, if you have any documentation, paperwork, text messages, or anything else that you've received from anybody involved in your case, you need to give it to your attorney, even if you think it might hurt your case. If you've spoken with anybody - judges, police officers, witnesses, court staff, etc. - you should tell your attorney about the conversation and what was discussed. When relaying your version of the events that led to you needing legal services, don't hold back; make sure you tell your attorney every detail you can think of, whether you think it's important or not.

Don't hold back information because you think it could hurt your case. Don't keep secrets. Don't skip over minor details, because they may not be as minor as you think. If you learn any information about your case that you haven't discussed with your attorney, relay that information to them immediately. Honestly, the only thing you may not want to tell your attorney is whether or not you're actually guilty. If you start saying something your attorney doesn't want to hear, don't worry; they'll stop you.

I've had people not tell me things because they think they did something wrong and I'll be frustrated or annoyed with them. I've also had people not tell me things because they didn't think it was a big deal when it really was, or because they thought they'd lose their case if I knew about something that happened. However, not telling your attorney something could do more harm than good.

There are few things worse than being blindsided in front of a judge. It not only hurts your credibility as well as the credibility of your attorney, it prevents your attorney from being able to gather additional evidence or information to mitigate any negative consequences to you. If you withhold information from your attorney, it can seriously affect their ability to develop and/or follow an effective strategy in your case or advocate on your behalf. Essentially, it has the possibility of making an attorney's job extremely difficult, if not impossible.

The truth is, you should trust your attorney to keep confidentiality and only use information you give them in a way that will help you. If you're unable to do this, it's time to find a new attorney. Failing to tell your attorney even seemingly trivial information could have a seriously negative impact on your case. Again, what you say cannot and will not be used against you.

If you've been charged with a DUI, drug offense, or any other crime and need the advice of a talented Criminal Defense Attorney, or wish to speak to an attorney about your personal injury or disability case, contact The Fliszar Firm today.


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