Some people are tempted to discuss their feelings of guilt with a lawyer. This can be for emotional reasons, or it might be from the misplaced belief that the attorney needs to know everything.
Criminal lawyers almost always discourage their clients from confessing offenses to them, though. Here is why that is and how it might affect your case.
Ability to Present Several Defenses
Under criminal law, an attorney can't openly present an argument that contradicts what they know to be the truth. If a lawyer doesn't know for sure what your whereabouts were at the time of an offense, they can present arguments indicating you were elsewhere or that a different person committed the crime. Conversely, they're not allowed to pose anything that contradicts what you've told them.
This is particularly the case in defenses where the central claim is you had no involvement. The so-called SODDI defense, meaning "some other dude did it," is only presentable if your attorney has a plausible reason to believe that might be true.
While it's not impossible to present a case after a defendant has confessed, it is limiting. A criminal lawyer may have to focus on procedural elements, such as showing the police didn't search with probable cause.
Also, it hamstrings the attorney's ability to present multiple defenses at once. Oftentimes, a lawyer will try to poke holes in procedural and civil rights issues while simultaneously asserting a defendant wasn't present at a crime scene.
Obligation to Disclose Evidence
Suppose a defendant told an attorney where they hid a weapon related to an assault case. If the police find out that the lawyer knows, the lawyer is supposed to divulge the location.
This can create a scenario where criminal lawyers are damned either way. Under the right set of circumstances, an attorney may have to choose between suffering sanctions for not zealously representing their client and suffering sanctions for hiding evidence. In the most extreme circumstances, a lawyer may be disbarred or even tried as a co-defendant.
Don't Presume Your Guilt
As much as a juror is supposed to not presume a defendant's guilt, neither should you presume you did anything illegal. Criminal lawyers can sometimes help clients provide legally acceptable justifications for what happened. For example, you might be able to assert a self-defense claim. Under those circumstances, there just isn't a crime for the client to confess.
Remember, it's the prosecution's job to prove that you're guilty. Don't do their job for them.
I am a real estate attorney, and I have been helping clients buy and sell property for many years. Some clients do not realize their legal obligations and options when it comes to purchasing or selling a house or land. I hope that this blog will be a way for people to get information about legal issues in real estate and what they need to know when doing business. Buying and selling property can be complicated, and all parties involved have legal obligations. Know what is expected of you, and you will be able to get the best out of your real estate transactions.