In this blog, the criminal defense lawyers at Suhre & Associates break down attorney-client privilege and how it can affect your case in Cincinnati, Ohio. Many people don’t realize that confidentiality and privilege are actually two different things! 

When you are charged with a crime, it can be incredibly stressful. Most people’s first reaction to stress is to talk (or text) friends or loved ones about what is going on. However, this is the biggest mistake you can make. 

Friends and family members are all potential witnesses that could be subpoenaed and forced to testify against you. Your text messages could even be seized as evidence of a crime. Confidentiality and privilege only apply when you are talking to your lawyer about your case. For this reason, you should never discuss a criminal allegation with anyone but your lawyer.

Attorney-Client Privilege as a Rule of Evidence in Cincinnati Ohio

In everyday life, people use the terms attorney-client confidentiality and privilege interchangeably. This is understandable since the concepts are related. However, in Ohio, one is a narrow rule of evidence that prevents communications and work product from being used against you in court. The other is much broader and provides a great deal more protection for clients. 

Attorney-client privilege is a rule of evidence. It does not prevent your lawyer from discussing your case with anyone outside of court. Rather, it prevents attorney communications and work product related to your representation from being used against you. Privilege is confined to within the walls of the courtroom. 

Thanks to attorney-client privilege, your lawyer cannot be forced to testify against you in court. Likewise, the papers and work of your lawyer cannot be seized as evidence with a search warrant and used against you in court. There are some exceptions, discussed later in this blog.

Attorney-Client Confidentiality as an Ethics Rule in Ohio

Attorney-client confidentiality does extend beyond the four walls of the courtroom. Confidentiality is an ethics rule that all lawyers must abide by. Good lawyers take attorney-client confidentiality seriously.

Under the Ohio Rule of Professional Conduct, a lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client. Not at dinner. Not in the parking lot. Nowhere. Confidentiality is much broader than privilege, though both are extremely important and work hand in hand. 

If a lawyer fails to maintain client confidentiality, they can face ethics sanctions from the Ohio Supreme Court. They even lose their law license.

Are There Any Exceptions to Privilege and Confidentiality? 

There are some important exceptions to attorney-client privilege and confidentiality in Cincinnati, Ohio. Neither one is absolute. In fact, both are subject to very similar limitations. 

Here are a few examples of when a lawyer may break confidentiality or privilege:

  • If you threaten to harm or murder someone
  • If the client tries to use the lawyer’s services to commit a crime or fraud
  • If the lawyer needs to defend against a malpractice claim
  • If you waive your protections

There are other exceptions to confidentiality and privilege. In general, if the communications are made in the course of the representation, there is a presumption that confidentiality will apply. These are nuanced rules though, and you should consult with your lawyer if you have any questions.


Contact an attorney today to discuss your case in a free consultation. They can explain how attorney-client privilege will apply in your circumstances.