40 Pages Posted: 19 May 2017 Last revised: 5 Jun 2017
Date Written: May 18, 2017
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: 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