Legal Information: General

Confidentiality

Confidentiality

Many people are aware that conversations with their lawyer are generally protected under laws that guarantee an “attorney-client privilege.” Basically, this means that the lawyer is required to keep all oral and written communications with his/her client private and confidential (with some exceptions). However, what may not be as well-known is that many states also have laws that provide a similar privilege for victims of domestic or sexual violence and non-attorney advocates who help them. So, if a victim of abuse is talking to an advocate on a hotline, at a local domestic violence program, or in a shelter, the advocate may also have to keep their communications and conversations private and confidential. However, there are exceptions – such as if the advocate is a “mandated reporter” for child abuse and suspects child abuse, if the advocate is subpoenaed by a judge to reveal the information in court, and other exceptions.

You can find state-specific information about confidentiality laws between victims and non-attorney advocates on WomensLaw.org for the states listed in the drop-down menu above.  

In addition, you can find resources on confidentiality laws on NNEDV’s Technology Safety website. Many of the resources there are written for advocates but can be useful for victims of abuse as well.