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When To Speak And When To Stay Silent In Your Criminal Case


Even though you probably already know that you have the right to remain silent while being questioned by police, the officer who arrests you must inform you of this upon your arrest, as part of the Miranda warnings.  The police might try to charm you into talking.  They might make friendly conversation or start offering to help you get a plea deal.  You should not fall for it, just as you should not fall for it when insurance claims adjusters turn on the charm in an effort to get you to open up and unwittingly say something that they can use to justify paying you less on your insurance claim.  Whether or not you unambiguously confess to committing the crime, anything you say to police can and will be used against you.  Therefore, you should exercise your right to remain silent when dealing with police, even if the officers with whom you interact seem friendly and helpful.  Likewise, you should not tell too many details about your pending case to your family and friends, lest you be accused of witness tampering if these relatives testify at your trial.  There is a time and a place to speak openly about your case, though, and that is during one-on-one conversation with a West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer.

Attorney-Client Privilege Means That Your Lawyer Is Not Going to Use Your Words Against You

Attorney-client privilege means that, when you talk one-on-one with your criminal defense lawyer about your pending case, those conversations are private, and your lawyer may not reveal the content of them to anyone else.  Conversations between a defendant in a criminal case and his or her attorney are privileged, which means that they are confidential.  When police question you, their goal is to get you to say something incriminating, or else to confess to the crime and eventually plead guilty.  By contrast, your lawyer’s goal in your private conversations is to think of the best defense strategy.

Building a successful defense strategy means to speak openly and to examine the situation from multiple perspectives, to ask hypothetical questions and anticipate possible answers to them.  It is not possible to do this when you are going out of your way to avoid incriminating yourself.  If your lawyer says, “Where was Joe at the time of the robbery?” and you say, “I plead the Fifth,” your lawyer cannot tell whether it is worthwhile to call Joe as a witness for your alibi defense, or even if the alibi defense will work.

The “forward” and “reply all” buttons on email complicated attorney-client privilege.  Your lawyer may share your privileged communications with other law firm employees who are working on your case, but they are also bound by confidentiality.  To be safe, you should include the word “privileged” or “confidential” in the subject line if you are invoking attorney-client privilege in an email to your lawyer.

Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Attorney William Wallshein has more than 38 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County.  Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida to discuss your case.



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