What Is Attorney-Client Privilege?

The doctrine of attorney-client privilege serves as a critical safeguard for keeping a client's communications to a lawyer secret. If a legal demand is made for such communications during discovery or a request is made for the lawyer to testify under oath, attorney-client privilege protects what a client discussed with a lawyer in private.This privilege extends to both criminal and civil proceedings in Arizona, which gives clients the ability to fully trust that whatever is discussed with a lawyer in private will be kept secret, save for a few key exceptions.

Attorney client privilege

Attorney client privilege

Defining Attorney-Client Privilege in Arizona

According to A.R.S. 12-2234, an attorney generally cannot be examined regarding any communication made by the client to the lawyer in a civil action.

Additionally, the lawyer's professional legal advice given to a client cannot be examined during a civil proceeding either.

This Arizona statute goes on to define when a communication made to a lawyer is protected by the attorney-client privilege.

Communications made to your lawyer in a civil action are privileged if the communications are either:

  1. Made to provide legal advice

  2. Made to obtain information that is relevant to provide legal advice

Effectively, the doctrine of attorney-client privilege is best thought of as a form of privilege that protects your communications in judicial proceedings where a lawyer may be asked to produce evidence that concerns you, the client.

As such, attorney-client privilege is distinct from the notion of confidentiality.

Attorney-Client Privilege vs. Attorney-Client Confidentiality

The doctrines of attorney-client privilege and confidentiality certainly bear similarities in that both doctrines set out to protect clients when they discuss a civil or criminal case with a lawyer.

However, the two concepts are wholly distinct. Attorney-client privilege is codified with both a criminal statute (A.R.S. 13-4062(2)) and the aforementioned civil statute A.R.S. 12-2234. Confidentiality, by contrast, is Arizona's Rules of Professional Conduct and ER 1.6.

Broadly, the difference between these concepts is best understood on the basis that attorney-client privilege protects clients in judicial proceedings.

If a lawyer is asked t produce evidence in court or is called as a witness, attorney-client privilege ensures your secret communications will be protected.

Confidentiality, alternatively, applies in situations not involving court proceedings or an attempt to force the lawyer to produce confidential communications by law.

Legal distinctions aside, the important thing to understand is that your communications with an attorney about your case are going to be protected and kept confidential.

There are exceptions to this rule. Clients can waive their right to attorney-client privilege, for starters.

Communications are also not privileged if they were made with the intention to commit or cover up fraud or crime.

The important thing to consider when asking whether this exception applies is whether the client intends to cover up a crime or fraud by communicating with the lawyer.

For the vast majority of civil and criminal cases, however, communications with a lawyer will be kept confidential.

If you desire to keep communications with a lawyer confidential, know that our team at Tyler Allen Law Firm, PLLC will uphold our legal and ethical responsibilities under the requirements of attorney-client privilege.

Our team is dedicated to protecting and defending your legal rights, and upholding the attorney-client privilege is just one of the ways we provide you with a strong, reliable legal defense.

Contact us online to discuss the facts of your case knowing that your communications will receive the legal protection they deserve.