John Doe is talking to his attorney on the phone in a public place. He admits to the lawyer that he had committed a crime. A police officer overhears this conversation. Does attorney-client privilege protect John?

1 Answer 1



John spoke where the police officer could hear him without conducting an illegal search. The police officer is not his attorney.

  • I'm not sure that it is that cut and dry. If John Doe has a reasonable, but inaccurate belief that he was making a confidential communication (e.g. some domed buildings make it possible to hear you at the opposite side of the dome even though no one is near you), this would probably not result in a loss of the privilege.
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 7, 2022 at 0:25
  • @ohwilleke I'm not so sure. If John was in a private residence but talking/shouting loud enough to be heard in the street - the conversation is no longer confidential. So long as the police officer is not conducting an illegal search, anything they overhear is fair game. I think.
    – Dale M
    Jul 7, 2022 at 0:29
  • I don't assert that the police officer is conducting an illegal search. But, I don't think that the bounds of an illegal search and the bounds of what communications are protected by the attorney-client privilege are the same.
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 7, 2022 at 0:30
  • The mere fact the police officer "could" hear is not enough. John has to know that the police can hear him (and even then it might not be enough).
    – Hugh
    Aug 13, 2022 at 0:04

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