Lawyers Disclose The Scariest Thing A Client Has Ever Confessed To Them

Being a lawyer has got to be such a daunting challenge.

How do you keep your conscience in check?

The things you learn about humanity can be bone-chilling.

It's a special issue when you're a criminal attorney.

Sometimes you learn your client is guilty.

But you still have to do your job, even if what you know leaves you shaking in fear or disgust.

You took an oath after all.

Redditor BrunoDeFarnese wanted to hear about all the stories that still haunt lawyers. They asked:

"Reddit lawyers, what is the scariest thing a client has confessed/said to you?"

I've always wondered about this. It happens in movies. But does it happen in real life?


Sad Season 9 GIF by The Office Giphy

"I once had a client’s mental state deteriorate over time. They went from relatively normal to complaining of ghosts in their home and their house being bugged in a matter of months. It was equal parts scary and very sad to watch it happen."


The Worst

"Their murders."


"Admission of guilt to your lawyer makes it harder to defend a client, at least where I practice, that takes any defenses off the table where you argue they didn't do it. So now you not only have the trauma of knowing these details, they've also made your job way harder."


Criminal Law

"Had a client who was charged with assault with a deadly weapon against his wife. He had a few past charges that were similar. Fairly typical domestic violence situation. He claimed it was blown out of proportion, yada yada. I got a pretty good plea deal for him and advised him to take it."

"He told me he wanted to go to trial. I told him that when his wife testifies against him, he’d lose pretty fast. He looked me in the eye and told me that his wife would not be attending the trial. I knew better than to ask questions. Sure enough, his wife did not attend the trial. Case dismissed for lack of witness."

"A win for the good guys? I hope he just made up with her and she chose not to appear, but I’ve always wondered if he did something to make sure of it. He sounded pretty confident when he told me she wouldn’t be there. I got out of criminal law in a hurry after that."



"I work in patent law, so we don't really get 'scary' per se. Grandfather came in with several inventions... actually the entire family came which was weird. He was very proud of his inventions, and explicitly stated that they needed the money the inventions would make and the money would go to the whole family to support them. His family getting an inheritance basically rested on these inventions."

"The inventions were extremely simple concepts that had been around for probably 30+ years. I politely got all of the information. I then put together a report, and it was honestly scary. How do you write something that shatters this elderly mans (and his families) dreams?"


The Robot

Steve Little Lawyer GIF by The Grinder Giphy

"His wife was an alien robot and so was the President, and he was going to kill them and all other robots. Straight to the psych ward for paranoid schizophrenia."



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"They killed someone when detailing the case to me."



“'I am a Mexican cartel member' —US Immigration Attorney."


"In LATAM, organized crime and everyday life intertwine quite often, it is quite common to bump into people with some degree of involvement or who had dealings with them in the past, I live in an upper middle class neighborhood and all of the businesses around my house had yo get an 'ok' to operate."



"My husband was the lawyer not me, but one guy had been hiding in the attic of his small apartment building and when my husband went to talk to him he was so out of it on meth and paranoid that he accused my husband of working for the county whatever that means."


Panama papers...

"I do corporate structure and wealth management so I don’t get much action, but I’ve had clients admitting over the phone casually to every white collar crime known to man, insider trading, money laundering, tax evasion schemes I would get once a week. I’m pretty ok if what you are doing is fu**ing over either some big corporate or the government."

"But probably the scariest stuff, was during the Panama papers, while I was still an intern, I got a call from my boss off hours and to get to the office ASAP, I just went to the office had no idea what was going on and started shredding clients papers who might or might not have something to do on tax heavens."


To the Grave

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"I had to surrender my law license last week b/c of an early dementia diagnosis. Although I no longer carry a bar card, the secrets disclosed by clients, over the last 30 years, will die with me."


Asking for a friend...

"I was always told you never lie to your lawyer or doctor. If I killed someone would a lawyer want to know the truth to better prepare for a case or do I keep my mouth shut? If I do admit to a heinous crime can the lawyer just refuse to defend me and then testify against me. Asking for a friend."



"I feel like my meter is calibrated differently, I feel like what is scary to some people doesn't phase me and I can't even think of really scary things. Except the time I worked with some mentally ill defendants and when visiting, he pulled a pen inkwell that he had sharpened out of his ass and threatened to harm himself in front of me."

"I was behind glass and safe, but having to talk him down was one of the scariest things I've ever had to do. He probably couldn't have seriously injured himself, but the moment was very scary."


And Scene!!

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"A lawyer doesn’t spill on a client. Period."



"I had a client who’s employee got drunk, went home and beat his wife to death R.I.P. it was in the paper!"



"Other than a few cases, I didn't mind my criminal clients. I felt bad for the majority of them. They weren't bad people, they were people who were horrible childhoods, didn't finish high school, some kind of addiction problem, etc. They literally did not have the knowledge or ability to make good decisions. And a couple of bad people thrown in there.But Family Law? No thank you."



"I became a lawyer b/c of Brendan Sullivan at Williams & Connelly. I was fortunate enough to also be a law professor (evidence and the law of testamentary privilege). Sullivan once said in an interview that he wanted his epitaph to read 'here lie the secrets'. I want nothing less and if I were to tell secrets, it would rob me of my professional pride and dignity."


Godspeed, Esquire...

"My former boss, a lawyer of more than 40 years, passed in 2015. I know some of the secrets with which he was burdened but I know there were much, much worse things he carried alone. When he got sick in 2013 and knew dementia would eventually come for him, he would often joke and say, 'Now, when I lose my mind, don’t think you’re going to get any secrets out of me.'"

"Although those of us around him didn’t feel so confident, he’d made up his mind. And he didn’t. He told us he was still married to his long-departed first wife. He had fabulous visits with his mother, who had passed on more than 30 years prior. He lived a lot in his college days."

"Not once, however, did he utter a single clients name. Not the most eccentric family law client nor the most dangerous criminal client. Not a single one was mentioned. I sense you to have made up your mind. I’m sorry for your diagnosis but know you’re obviously a hell of a lawyer. Godspeed, Esquire."


Season 2 Lawyer GIF by Martin Giphy

The 22...

"Its a catch-22. The real answer is it depends. There are several possible ways to defend such a case. First is to make a strong case that it wasn't you. Second, is to impeach the prosecutions case, and undermine the certainty that it was you such that you get let off on reasonable doubt."

"Third, is some type of justification or mitigation defense: You did it, but it was legally justified, or you did it, but here is why you should get the lesser charge. Knowing the truth will help your lawyer formulate trial strategy, and better advise you during plea negotiation."

"However, when you admit doing it, it becomes hard/impossible to ethically present evidence exonerating you, that your attorney knows to be false. It is generally a bad idea to try to commit fraud on the court, your attorney cannot knowingly help you, but if your situation is desperate enough, it may actually be your best bet, but you can't ask your attorney about it!"


It's a good thing I'm not a lawyer. I'd be taking out AD space online with these stories.

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