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Opinion date: Aug. 7, 2003

Ethics issue presented:

What are an attorney's ethical obligations with regard to evidence which is incriminating to his client, a juvenile, which was disclosed to him by the juvenile's parents?

Facts as presented by Inquirer:

Inquirer was retained by the parents of a juvenile who was charged with theft. During the course of the representation, the juvenile’s parents advised Inquirer that they had found items in their home which they believed were items which the juvenile was charged with stealing and asked Inquirer what they should do with those items. Inquirer presented two issues: (1) whether he had an obligation to make any disclosure of this information to the authorities and (2) what he should advise the parents as to the scope of their obligations with respect to this knowledge.

Advice given:

Issue 1: The information divulged to Inquirer by the parents is confidential information pursuant to Rule 1.6 which could not be disclosed by the Inquirer without consent of the client or unless authorized by subparagraphs (b) or (c) of that rule (which do not apply here). Issue 2: Because Inquirer was representing the juvenile, and not the parents, and since the information possessed by the parents was detrimental to the interests of his client, he should not give any advice to the parents concerning their obligations, and instead, should simply advise them to secure their own counsel. {J0736882.1}

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