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I told my wife everything, can she testify against me?

The law has long recognized that a husband and wife have a sacred relationship and that they should not be forced to turn on each other in a court of law.  The Military Rules of Evidence 504 provides a husband and wife two different types of spousal privileges at a court-martial.  The first type of privilege states that in general a person may refuse to testify against his or her spouse at a court-martial.  In order for the first type of privilege to apply, the spouse and accused servicemember must be still married at the time of the court-martial and the spouse (not the accused) must assert his or her right to not testify.  The second type of marital privilege could apply to a marriage that is dissolved at the time of the court-martial.  Additionally, the second type of privilege can be invoked by either the accused servicemember or the servicemember’s spouse/former spouse.  The second type of privilege involves confidential communications between a husband and a wife.  The rule states that if a husband and a wife have a confidential conversation while they are married, the contents of that conversation is confidential and they each hold a privilege not to disclose what was discussed.  Both the spouse and the accused servicemember have to waive the right to their privilege for the other to take the witness stand and expose the contents of that confidential exchange.  There are some exceptions to this privilege.  For example, if the accused servicemember is charged with a crime against the spouse or a child of either party, the privilege may not apply.  So, if you told your spouse “everything” during your marriage and you have concerns about him or her testifying against you at an upcoming court-martial, you may not have to worry, as the husband-wife privilege may apply.  Give me a call and we can discuss it further.  To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.

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