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Can you force your spouse not to testify against you?

| Jul 6, 2018 | Criminal Defense |

You get arrested, and the authorities say that your spouse was a witness to the crime. They want him or her to testify against you. Naturally, you would rather not have your spouse involved in any way. Can you force your spouse not to testify?

You cannot. That is how spousal privilege has been used in the past, but the modern interpretation is different. You no longer have the power to deny your spouse any action. If he or she wants to testify against you, it can happen without your permission.

That said, your spouse does have the right to decline the invitation to testify. He or she cannot be forced to do so. This means that, if you and your spouse are on the same page about what you would like to do, he or she does not have to say anything. It is simply important to note that you do not hold the power to make that decision; only your spouse does.

This spousal privilege does end if your marriage ends. If the two of you get divorced, your spouse may then talk about things that happened before the marriage, during the marriage or after the marriage.

Criminal accusations realistically impact entire families, not just those who are actually accused of committing the crimes. This is why it is very important for all family members to know their legal rights. Remember, no matter what you have been accused of in Minnesota, you absolutely have a right to a fair trial, and you need to know your legal defense options.