You rely on your husband or wife for a variety of things. Not only does your spouse provide you with companionship, but he or she also helps you work through difficult problems. Nonetheless, your spouse can probably only provide good guidance if he or she has information about the situation. If you talk to your partner about criminal conduct, though, you may wonder if prosecutors can require your spouse to testify against you.
Few other relationships in society are as important and valuable as the marital union. As such, Texas law generally protects the communications you have with your spouse. Of course, there are many exceptions. If you think you are about to face criminal prosecution, you should understand marital privilege.
According to Rule 504 of the Texas Rules of Evidence as amended, an individual’s communication with his or her spouse is confidential if he or she makes the communication privately, expecting it to remain so. The individual does not have to disclose the contents of the communication, provided he or she was in a valid marriage at the time of the discussion. The privilege usually survives the termination of the marriage.
The commission of a crime
If you face criminal charges, talking in-depth with a lawyer may be your best bet. When it comes to your spouse, though, you must be careful. That is, spousal privilege does not protect communications that involve committing a crime. Accordingly, if you talk to your spouse so he or she can help you plan a crime, your communications do not have spousal privilege. Also, if your discussions involve fraud, spousal privilege likely does not protect the confidentiality of your communications.
Crimes against the family
Further, if prosecutors accuse you of committing a crime against your spouse, another household member or a minor child, your communications with your partner are unlikely to remain confidential. For example, if the facts indicate you have committed spousal abuse or child neglect, prosecutors may ask your spouse to testify against you.
This is a broad overview of spousal privilege. Because the concept is centuries old, though, there are dozens of judicial opinions that may put additional restrictions and limitations on your spousal privilege. As such, if you want to keep your conversations with your spouse out of the public eye, you should understand how the law applies to your specific circumstances.