When do lawyers lie to the judge?
Can a lawyer lie?
No. A lawyer can't lie.
There may be people who will actually be surprised by the answer to this question. The lawyer - and especially the defense attorney - is a one-sided advocate who is committed to the well-being of his client. Nevertheless, he must not tell the untruth.
According to Section 1 of the Federal Lawyers' Act (BRAO), a lawyer is an independent body responsible for the administration of justice. Freedom from state influence is guaranteed in this formula by emphasizing the independence of the lawyer. At the same time, every lawyer also makes a contribution to a functioning justice system. This is guaranteed by its commitment to law and order.
Not only must the lawyer not lie, he must also not ask his client to deliberately tell the untruth. This can pose difficult situations for defense lawyers in particular. In cases in which the accused's conception of the verdict at the time of the act is important, the duty of advice and the duty of truth can collide with one another. If, for example, the circumstances of the commission do not allow any conclusions to be drawn about the intent of the accused, a committed defense lawyer will try to work towards a convincing statement by his client. It is one of the central tasks of defense counsel to assist the client and also to advise him on how to appear in court. This includes the comprehensive presentation of the legal situation as well as the discussion of the consequences of certain statements. In other words, the defense attorney also has to give the client answers to questions that every accused asks:
- Will the court believe me?
- Is my statement consistent with the content of the court files?
- What will the witnesses say?
- How will the co-defendants behave?
The boundary between a conscious lie and a benevolent interpretation of a situation is difficult to determine when preparing an entry into the matter. If the defense attorney goes too far, he himself is threatened with criminal proceedings for obstruction. The attorney's duty of truth is not only a legal or professional requirement, a violation of it can result in serious criminal penalties.
Incidentally, there is no conflict with the duty of truth if the defense attorney tries against his better judgment to obtain an acquittal for his client. If the accused confesses the act to his lawyer, he is not obliged to gear his defense strategy towards a conviction. Because the lawyer is bound to secrecy and cannot be made a witness against his client.
The lawyer's duty of truth can be reduced to a short formula: "Everything the defense attorney says must be true, he must - and may - but not say everything that is true."
Would a good criminal lawyer lie for me?
It happens again and again that clients press their lawyer to do illegal things. This includes smuggling letters, drugs or even weapons - or simply exceeding the obligation to be truthful.
Only weak lawyers get involved in this. You are not only susceptible to blackmail. If they are vulnerable, they will also lack the necessary bite to confidently face a public prosecutor or judge on an equal footing. A lawyer who makes himself punishable is no longer a strong advocate for his client.
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