Admitting guilt is never an easy thing, even to those who are there to support you. It’s true when we’re children and do something bad at school, or when we make a mistake at work. The same is true for when you are charged with a crime that you did indeed commit. Your defense attorney is there to represent you in court, and to ensure to the best of their ability that there is reasonable doubt that you may not have committed the crime. You may think that telling your attorney that you didn’t do the crime will keep you out of trouble, but it may in fact make your attorney’s job more difficult. Your attorney’s job is not to judge you, but to defend you. No matter what you tell them, they will ensure that what is said between the two of you will remain between the two of you unless otherwise discussed.
Listen to your lawyer
When it comes to your defense attorney, it is likely they will want you to tell them everything. In order to present the best defense against the possible points of attack from the prosecution, most defense lawyers will want to know every detail. Your attorney’s job is to examine your case and find ways in which they can prove that there is reasonable doubt that you committed the crime.
There are some lawyers who do not wish to hear the details of the case from you as they would rather not limit the scope of your defense. Usually, they only want to know what the prosecution knows without knowing all the honest details from their client, so that they can remain as objective as possible. The defense attorney’s job is not to prove whether you are innocent or guilty, but whether there is a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime at all.
In most cases, defense attorneys will simply assume guilt no matter the case. In this way, they can critically look at the case and prepare the best defense strategy no matter what the prosecution throws their way.
Ultimately, if you decide to tell your lawyer the truth, it must be the one and only truth, and not something you change your mind about later. Your lawyer cannot present arguments or give evidence that they know to be false, and they cannot knowingly allow you to lie to the court (perjury). The best course of action is to tell your lawyer exactly what they want you to tell them.
Will my lawyer do a worse job defending me if they know I’m guilty?
You may be worried that if you admit guilt to your attorney, they may see you differently and do a poor job of defending you because they know you are not innocent. It is not your attorney’s job to judge you for guilt, that is the sole job of the jury. As it is the prosecution’s burden and duty to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, it is your defense attorney’s job to prove them wrong, no matter if you are truly guilty or not. You have rights, and your attorney is there to make sure you are allowed those rights. It is the jury’s job to decide whether the prosecution has met their burden of proof.
You are innocent until proven guilty, as that is how the American justice system works. Not only is it the defense attorney’s job to represent you passionately and determinedly, it is also ethically required of them. This is how the justice system is kept fair, and your rights as a citizen are not overlooked or neglected.
Not only is it in your best interest to win your case, but it is also what your lawyer wants as well.
If you are concerned that once you tell your lawyer that you are guilty of the crime with which you are charged, they will then tell people, which will hurt your case, it is important that you understand lawyer-client confidentiality. As per the American Bar Association, a fundamental rule “in the client-lawyer relationship is that, in the absence of the client’s informed consent, the lawyer must not reveal information relating to the representation.”
The only instances where the lawyer can and must reveal details of your case as discussed between the two of you is if you plan to commit another crime, or plan to hurt/kill others or yourself. For example, if you reveal to your lawyer that you dumped toxic waste into the water supply of the town, the lawyer must reveal this information so as to limit the number of people who are injured.
Your defense attorney is there to do a job, and that job is to defend you no matter your guilt. They are not there to judge you, but to vehemently represent you and diligently plan the best course of action in your defense. In most cases, it is recommended that you reveal all the details of the crime you committed, but in any case, listen to your attorney, and do as they instruct you. They are the experts of the law, and know how to handle your case. If you have been charged with a crime and need a reliable, dedicated defense lawyer, call the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates in Franklin, Columbia, or Brentwood or use our contact page. You have rights, and we want to ensure you are given your fair day in court.