Should I Admit Guilt to My Criminal Defense Attorney?

When you hire a criminal defense attorney to legally represent you after being charged with a crime, at some point you will need to discuss the facts of the case. It’s best if your lawyer doesn’t run into any surprises later on, but do you need to divulge the whole truth? The answer to this depends on your case, but here are some guidelines.

Can a lawyer defend someone they know is guilty?

Witness swearing on the bible telling the truth in the court room
Ask before you tell – once you’ve said something to your lawyer about the alleged crime, you can’t take it back and your lawyer can’t pretend they didn’t hear it.

Criminal Defense Lawyers Have Ethics Constraints

Even though criminal defense attorneys have a lot of leeway to defend a person they think might be guilty, there are a few hard lines that cannot be crossed.

  • Your lawyer can’t allow you to knowingly lie under oath, or commit perjury.
  • They also may not provide evidence to the court that they know has been falsified or fabricated.

In light of this, some criminal lawyers don’t want to be fully informed of what actually happened at the time of the alleged crime. This prevents them from being cornered into choosing to compromise your case or putting themselves at risk of disbarment. But, many lawyers would rather not run into any surprises during the discovery or litigation process.

You Need a Viable Defense Strategy

Your attorney needs at least some information to pursue a viable defense strategy. They can’t be fully in the dark, even if they prefer not to know the full truth about what happened. When you are truthful with your lawyer about what you did or did not do and why they can plan ahead for when the prosecution inevitably finds evidence against you.

For example, a defendant may admit to their attorney that they stabbed their partner after years of emotional and physical abuse. The lawyer can use details about the history of abuse to paint a picture of self-defense.

If I’m Guilty, Will I Go To Trial?

In many cases, a defense lawyer who knows their client is guilty will advise them to take a plea deal or to negotiate a lesser sentence with the prosecution in exchange for a guilty plea. However, this may not be the best scenario for some defendants. For example, if the police clearly violated the defendant’s rights, there may be a good chance that the charges will be dismissible regardless of other case facts. Or, the prosecution may have offered an unreasonable plea deal that is not in the client’s best interests. Ultimately, the choice is yours whether or not you go to trial. Your attorney can only advise you on the potential outcome of each, good or bad.

How Do I Know What to Tell My Lawyer?

The simplest way to know whether or not your criminal defense attorney wants all the details or not is to ask them. Just make sure you ask before you tell – once you’ve said something to your lawyer about the alleged crime, you can’t take it back and your lawyer can’t pretend they didn’t hear it. If your constitutional rights were violated, your attorney has a duty to protect them whether or not you are actually guilty of the crime of which you are accused.

Contact ATAC Law Firm for Las Vegas Criminal Defense Representation Today

If you were arrested for a criminal offense in Las Vegas, you shouldn’t wait to get legal help. Your future is on the line and if you’re convicted, life as you know it will change radically forever, no matter how light or harsh your sentencing is.

ATAC Law Firm has been honored to win the 2022 Best Litigation Attorney Award by and can provide you with zealous, compassionate advocacy regardless of what kind of offense you’ve been accused of. Call today to schedule your initial consultation at (702) 463-4900. Someone on our team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take your call.