What is attorney-client privilege?
The trust between a lawyer and his or her client is sacred. As a result, confidential communications between you and your attorney are protected from forced disclosure. This is known as attorney-client or lawyer-client privilege.1
In Nevada, a communication is “confidential” if it is not intended to be disclosed to third persons who are not working on your behalf.2
The privilege “attaches” from the moment of your first meeting with a lawyer, even if you do not ultimately engage the lawyer’s services. It “survives” the termination of the lawyer-client relationship and even your death.3
If a communication is privileged, you cannot be forced to reveal it and, in general, neither can your lawyer unless you consent.
Who can claim attorney-client privilege?
The privilege may be claimed not only by a lawyer’s clients, but by a client’s guardian or conservator, the personal representative of a deceased client, or the successor, trustee or similar representative of a corporation, association or other organization.4
It does not matter whether the communication was made in-person, by telephone, or via electronic means such as text or email. All communications with your lawyer are privileged as long as they are confidential and not disclosed by legitimate means (such as voluntary disclosure by you) and they do not fall within an exception.
Exceptions to attorney-client privilege in Nevada
Communications are not considered confidential if they are made in the presence of a third party, other than someone who works for your lawyer. This means that if you tell your lawyer something in front of a friend or in public, or if you copy people on an email or text to your lawyer, you lose the privilege with respect to that communication.
Lawyer-client privilege also does not apply if you sought the services of the lawyer to enable or aid anyone to commit or plan to commit what you knew or reasonably should have known to be a crime or fraud.5
Additionally, lawyers are required by law to reveal otherwise confidential communications to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes disclosure necessary to:
Prevent you from committing a criminal act that the lawyer believes is likely to result in imminent death or substantial bodily harm;6
Prevent or rectify the consequences of your criminal or fraudulent act in the commission of which the lawyer’s services have been used (after first making reasonable effort to persuade you to take corrective action);7 or
Establish a claim or defense on behalf of the lawyer in a controversy between you and the lawyer or to establish a defense to a criminal charge or civil claim against the lawyer based upon conduct in which you were involved, or to respond to allegations in any proceeding concerning the lawyer’s representation of you.8
Charged with a crime in Nevada? Call us for help…
If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime in Las Vegas, Reno or elsewhere in Nevada, we invite you to contact our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers for a free consultation.
To learn how the privilege applies in California, please see our article on lawyer-client privilege in California.
- NRS 49.095.
- NRS 49.055.
- Clark v. Second Judicial Dist. Court, 1985, 692 P.2d 512, 101 Nev. 58.
- NRS 49.105.
- NRS 49.115.
- Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 156 (2).
- Same, Rule 156 (3)(a).
- Same, Rule 156 (3)(b).