Texas Rule of Evidence 504 governs spousal privilege or the circumstances under which prosecutors may compel spouses to testify against one another in criminal proceedings, as well as confidential communications between spouses. Whether a prosecutor can make your spouse testify against you when you are facing criminal charges depends entirely on the circumstances.
A communication is confidential under Rule 504 if one spouse makes it privately to the other, and the spouse does not intend to disclose the communication to anyone else. A spouse can refuse to testify or disclose any confidential spousal communications, with the following exceptions:
- The communication was made to enable or aid anyone in committing or planning to commit fraud
- A party is accused of conduct which, if proven, is a crime against the person of the spouse, any minor child, or any household member
- A criminal proceeding involving charges of bigamy
In the context of a criminal prosecution of one spouse, then the state cannot call the accused person’s spouse as a witness and compel him or her to testify as to confidential communications between spouses. However, there is nothing to prevent a spouse from voluntarily testifying for the state in a criminal prosecution against his or her spouse. A spouse who has been accused of a crime cannot claim spousal privilege on behalf of his or her spouse and prevent him or her from testifying; it is up to the innocent spouse to decide whether to testify for the state or not. Even if an accused spouse objects to his or her spouse’s testimony, the spousal privilege does not prevent the innocent spouse from testifying. Likewise, if a spouse testifies for the defense in a criminal prosecution of his or her spouse, that spouse is subject to cross-examination by the prosecution.
At Peek & Toland, we care about helping you through your criminal proceedings. We will focus our efforts on advocating on your behalf and representing your interests throughout your case. Our knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers know the best strategies for defending you and working toward your desired objective. Allow us to handle your criminal case by sitting down with us today and discussing your situation.