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When an attorney devises a strategy for their client’s defense, they look at the broader picture as much as they look at specific details. In order to do that, they often need to know as much as possible – sometimes even facts that seem negligible to a defendant or an untrained eye. While some lawyers want to know the truth and nothing but the truth, telling them exactly what happened is not a must.

This blog post clarifies some of the most common questions about attorney-client confidentiality, including why people lie and what happens if a client admits guilt to their lawyer.

Why Do People Lie to Their Lawyer in a Criminal Defense Case?

Lies that defendants use can take many different forms, from outright deception to half-truths, embellishments, and simple omissions of facts. A kind of deception the defendant uses is crucial since it can affect the case in various ways.

There are many reasons why people lie to their lawyers or in court, and most of them boil down to the fear of punishment and the worry of being judged. Both bring a kind of great uncertainty and often major life changes, causing the defendant to try to cover up some of the facts related to a crime they have committed. These major life changes don’t just come in form of a prison sentence or loss of job, but also in form of loss of respect and relationships with loved ones.

Defendants also sometimes refuse to accept or acknowledge certain aspects of crimes they have committed. In reality, this sort of denial means that the person is lying to themselves in order to better cope with the consequences and self-judgment. Other reasons why people lie include embarrassment and shame, both of which can alter a person’s life regardless of the judge’s verdict.

What Happens If a Client Admits Guilt to a Lawyer?

Attorney-Client Privilege

Attorney-client privilege is the main principle that covers most criminal defense cases. This privilege implies that a lawyer cannot repeat things that the defendant has confessed to them.

Attorney’s job is to ensure that their client gets a fair hearing, the lowest possible sentence and that their rights are protected. In other words, their job is to be their client’s advocate, not to judge them.


Perjury means lying under the oath. As such, it is an intricate offense that can result in a severe sentence.

If a client confesses to something that results in a changed defense, the lawyer will be unable to proceed with the defense by using the incorrect information, because this would mean that their client is committing perjury.

Ethical Issues

Lawyers are ethically obliged to defend their clients, regardless of the client’s innocence or the lawyer’s personal feelings or opinion about the case.

Our justice system mandates that the prosecutor establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that if a person confesses guilt to their lawyer, the lawyer will try to the best of their capabilities to demonstrate that the prosecution did not succeed to prove their client’s guilt, instead of arguing for the client’s innocence. However, it is important to note that criminal attorneys cannot use false arguments or evidence.


Finally, an important thing to remember is that attorneys are advocates, not judges. Their role is to argue on their client’s behalf and get the best for them out of a given situation. Irrespective of whether they know the truth of what has happened or not, their job is to fight for your rights and for the lowest possible sentence.

If you or your loved one have found yourself involved in a criminal case and need the help of a seasoned defense attorney, contact GHC Law Firm at (512) 614-4412 today.