Confidentiality of Lawyer-Client Communications: Is It Safe to Talk to Your Lawyer From Jail?
If you are a Collin County, Texas, resident accused of a crime, you have the right to representation from a qualified Collin County federal drug lawyer. The right to counsel also guarantees your right to confidentiality. This means that any conversation or communication between you and your attorney is privileged and may not be used as evidence against you in court.
Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Criticize Jailhouse Monitoring
But what happens if you are in jail while awaiting a bail hearing or trial? Most Texas jails post notices that inmate communications are monitored. This means that if an inmate is speaking with a friend or family member during visiting hours, anything that is said may be recorded and used as evidence against the inmate at trial.
Even in a jail, however, attorney-client conversations remain privileged. That does not mean prosecutors and jail officials may not try and listen in on an inmate’s meeting with his or her attorney. In many cases it may not be overt. Many jails indiscriminately record all inmate conversations without taking care to respect attorney-client privilege.
In recent years a number of criminal defense lawyers in Texas have challenged the widespread lack of sufficient protections for client communications in jails. A 2012 Associated Press report noted sheriff’s departments in Galveston and Harris counties were “routinely recording all conversations, including those between attorneys and clients,” going back more than a decade. Although law enforcement officials instituted measures to prevent such abuse of inmate rights in the future, there is still no guarantee that calls will not be monitored in the future.
Is There a “Reasonable Expectation” of Privacy in Jail?
Judges have also been inconsistent in their rulings with respect to attorney-client privilege in a jailhouse setting. Some judges believe that by posting a notice that conversations are monitored, inmates and their attorneys have no reasonable expectation of privacy. But there are other cases where judges have said the privilege still holds.
There are other limits to the attorney-client privilege to keep in mind. For instance, if an inmate tells his or her lawyer they intend to commit a crime, or if the attorney is somehow conspiring with the inmate to commit a crime, that information may be used as evidence against the inmate.
The best way to ensure your rights are respected is to work with an experienced Collin County DWI lawyer. Contact the offices of Rosenthal & Wadas, if you need to speak with an experienced Collin County criminal defense attorney right away.