What is ‘spousal privilege’ in a criminal case?

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What is ‘spousal privilege’ in a criminal case?

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Asked on September 10, 2017 under Criminal Law, Alaska

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A “privilege” under the law is an exception to the rule that no one may refuse to give testimony or other evidence in a legal proceeding. Some of the the best-known privileges are the attorney-client privilege, the doctor-patient privilege and of course, the spousal privilege. That privilege arises from the idea that married spouses are one entity, so are not competent to testify against themselves through their other half. Basically, one spouse cannot be compelled to give testimony against their spouse if they are a defendant in a criminal trial or the subject of a grand jury proceeding. The accused spouse may claim the privilege or the other spouse may claim it on behalf of the accused spouse. However, the spouses must be married at the time that the privilege is asserted. therefore, an ex-spouse can be compelled to testify. Further, for some type of crimes, the privilege does not apply (e. g. domestic violence cases).

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A “privilege” under the law is an exception to the rule that no one may refuse to give testimony or other evidence in a legal proceeding. Some of the the best-known privileges are the attorney-client privilege, the doctor-patient privilege and of course, the spousal privilege. That privilege arises from the idea that married spouses are one entity, so are not competent to testify against themselves through their other half. Basically, one spouse cannot be compelled to give testimony against their spouse if they are a defendant in a criminal trial or the subject of a grand jury proceeding. The accused spouse may claim the privilege or the other spouse may claim it on behalf of the accused spouse. However, the spouses must be married at the time that the privilege is asserted. therefore, an ex-spouse can be compelled to testify. Further, for some type of crimes, the privilege does not apply (e. g. domestic violence cases).


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