‘What Do I Do with the Porn on My Computer?’: How a Lawyer Should Counsel Clients about Physical Evidence

40 Pages Posted: 19 May 2017 Last revised: 5 Jun 2017

Peter A. Joy

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Rodney J. Uphoff

University of Missouri School of Law

Date Written: May 18, 2017

Abstract

This Article critically analyzes the legal and ethical limits of advice a lawyer may give clients about evidence of crimes, and provides examples of that advice in a number of situations involving clients with questions about what they should do with real and electronic evidence. When criminal charges have not been brought and are not expected, how much latitude does a lawyer have in giving advice to a client? When may a lawyer counsel a client to destroy contraband or other evidence of a crime? When a lawyer may not counsel destruction, is a lawyer legally and ethically permitted to discuss the law and an assessment of the risks and possible legal consequences of destroying the contraband or other evidence of crimes?

This Article also fills the void in the legal ethics and criminal law literature on how to be both an ethical and an effective lawyer when a client seeks straightforward advice about handling contraband or other evidence of possible crimes.

Keywords: Ethics, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Professional Responsibility, Contraband, Evidence of Crimes, Drug Possession, Pornography, Obstruction of Justice, Destruction of Evidence

JEL Classification: K14, K19, K41, K42, K39

Suggested Citation

Joy, Peter A. and Uphoff, Rodney J., ‘What Do I Do with the Porn on My Computer?’: How a Lawyer Should Counsel Clients about Physical Evidence (May 18, 2017). Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-05-02; 54 American Criminal Law Review 751 (2017); University of Missouri School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2970762 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2970762

Peter A. Joy (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
313-935-6445 (Phone)

Rodney J. Uphoff

University of Missouri School of Law ( email )

Missouri Avenue & Conley Avenue
Columbia, MO 65211
United States

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