Your lawyer cannot repeat anything you tell her without your permission. Even after she is no longer your lawyer. Even after you’re dead. UNLESS:
- you tell your lawyer that you plan to kill or seriously injury another person; or
- your lawyer makes a statement in court as a fact, based on a lie that you told the lawyer. You later tell your lawyer that that was not true, the lawyer has a duty to correct the untruth.Example: You tell your lawyer that you don’t have any bank accounts. Your lawyer tells the court that you have no bank accounts. You then pay your lawyer with a check from your bank account. The lawyer sees the check, sees the bank account, and then has to correct the record. This is bad for you. Don’t do this.
There are other scenarios where your lawyer may break confidentiality but does not have to. The above examples are when a lawyer must reveal the communication.
If you invite someone else into the meeting between you and your lawyer, like your friend, the confidentiality is broken. Your friend is not prohibited from repeating what was discussed during the meeting. That is why your lawyer will often want to meet with you alone.
For criminal defendants, it is important to understand that your lawyer will still argue that you are innocent to a jury even though you have told her that you committed the crime. She will not want you to testify at your trial if you told her you did it, but the United States Constitution places the burden of proof squarely on the government’s shoulders. You are innocent, as a legal fact, unless and until the jury or judge finds you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt or you plead guilty, regardless of what you say in confidence to your lawyer.