I am often first contacted by a client’s family or friends. If that happens, that normally means that the client is in jail. Most people do not realize that any phone calls from the jail are recorded. This is why I always hate to hear someone tell me that the client has told them all about he case over the phone. People need to realize that the client is basically testifying when they discuss the case on the jail phones. This is because the prosecutor can pull these recordings and play them at trial. So, even if the client never takes the stand to testify, his or her phone calls can be played at trial, potentially hurting their case. Any criminal lawyer should discourage you from discussing the case on these jail calls. I tell clients and their loved ones to imagine they are testifying in front of a jury every time they speak on the phone, because there is a possibility that down the line your phone call could be used as testimony.
Second, I hate when clients discuss their case with anyone, except for me. The reason is that clients have confidentiality privileges with their criminal defense attorney. That means that the prosecution cannot force a criminal lawyer to disclose what their clients have told them, except for a few limited circumstances. The confidentially privilege does not extend to family and friends, which means that you could be called as a witness at trial and asked to tell what you have been told by the defendant about the case. Defendant’s should only discuss their case with a criminal attorney. This rule not only protects the defendant, but also protects their family and friends from being forced to testify against them. The hardest times can be the start and end of the case. When a case is new, the client often wants to explain to everyone that they are innocent. On the other hand, in a case that has gone on for a long-time, clients often become relaxed on jail phone calls and end up saying too much. If you have questions, contact a criminal defense attorney to make sure you are not jeopardizing your loved one’s case.