Don’t Hamstring Your Attorney, It’s Best to Be Honest

Preston Fleming

There are many euphemisms that can be used to describe someone that is lying. Spinning a yarn, pulling the wool over someone’s eyes, being full of shit are some you’ve no doubt heard before. In the legal arena we sometimes say someone is being “less than truthful” or “misrepresenting the facts.” My favorite euphemism for someone lying to their lawyer is “hamstringing them” because, in essence, if you lie to your own lawyer you can be crippling your own defense.

Lawyers are used to dealing with bad facts or facts that make their client look bad, or even look guilty. Let’s face it, that’s basically all they get paid to do. Having bad facts to deal with, and knowing about them up front, is much better than learning about those bad facts at some later time. Despite you having not been honest with your lawyer up front, sometimes the case can still have a happy ending for you. As always this depends on the facts of the case. Lets’ look at a typical scenario:

  1. You’re facing a burglary charge. You bond out of jail and hire a lawyer. During the intake, you insist several times you didn’t do it and that you were nowhere near the scene. Your lawyer believes you but knows that clients lie to their lawyers all the time and adopts a wait and see attitude. Upon receiving the state’s discovery she (your lawyer) learns that there is a key witness who saw you entering the home, then leaving a few minutes later with some of the reported missing items.

This makes for a very uncomfortable conversation between you and your lawyer the next time you meet. Of course, there could be a perfectly reasonable explanation for what the witness saw, and you may in fact not be guilty of burglary. However, the fact remains that you lied. Since this lie was discovered early on in the prosecutorial process it’s fixable and the case could still have a good outcome for you.

  1. But what if the witness didn’t come forward early in the case. And merely days before trial the witness decides to come forward; long after trial preparation has been completed, long after several plea offers have been rejected. Now your attorney is in a very difficult spot. But that’s nothing compared to the spot you’re in. In this situation you may have hamstrung your attorney and crippled your own defense.

No one ever wants to portray anything negative about themselves to others. I guess it’s human nature to shade the truth or omit facts that will make us look bad. The reasons why it’s not a good idea to lie to your attorney are too numerous to mention in this blog.

First of all, there’s a good chance your attorney will learn the truth as the result of her investigation into the matter. If this happens your case could be negatively impacted in a couple of ways and there may not be a whole lot your attorney can do to reduce the damage, i.e. the scenario #2.

Secondly, once your attorney finds out you’ve lied to her, she will no longer put much trust in what you tell her. Oh, she’ll still defend you, she just won’t trust you. That obviously doesn’t bode too well for you because, try as she might to put on the best possible defense, there will always be doubt in her mind as to whether the strategy chosen is the right one, given that the facts, alibis, witnesses, and your dishonesty. Obviously, it helps if your attorney has confidence that she’s chosen the best possible strategy to defend you so lying to her really hurts you in that sense.

Finally, your attorney may have made certain representations to the court in pleas and filings, based in part, on information she’s gathered from you as well as from her own investigation into your case. Again, this is really not good for you if she has to go back to the judge and opposing counsel and correct a misrepresentation that was made based in part on information you provided. Above all else our criminal justice system is ultimately a search for the truth and as an officer of the court your attorney has an ethical obligation to not intentionally misrepresent the court, nor should she be put in a position to unintentionally misrepresent the court. If you’ve been arrested and charged with a DUI or other criminal offense The Fleming Firm can help you deal with the “bad facts.”

Contact Attorney Preston Fleming at The Fleming Firm to schedule a FREE CONSULTATION. He can be reached, (844)DUI-LAW1 or

[email protected]. You can also simply complete the contact form at and submit it. Someone from our firm will reach out to you within 24 hours.

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