I'm sometimes asked by husbands who were arrested for domestic violence — California Penal Code section 273.5 or 243(e)(1) — whether they can prevent their wives from testifying in court by invoking their marital privilege.
California law recognizes two marital privileges. First, a spouse may refuse to testify against the other spouse. This privilege is sometimes called the spousal testimony privilege. (Evidence Code section 970.) Second, a spouse may refuse to disclose or may prevent the other spouse from disclosing confidential communications between them during their marriage. This privilege is sometimes called the marital communications privilege. (Evidence Code section 980). Despite these privileges, the Legislature has enacted numerous exceptions. The main exception which applies here, states that the two marital privileges cannot be invoked if one spouse is charged with a crime against the other spouse. (Evidence Code section 972). In other words, if the husband is charged with a domestic violence offense, he cannot prevent his wife from being brought to court by the prosecutor and ordered by the judge to testify against her husband.
If you have been charged with domestic violence or spousal battery in Temecula, Murrieta, Menifee, Wildomar, Lake Elsinore, Hemet, Perris, Banning, Corona, Winchester or Riverside, you need the assistance of an effective and experienced criminal defense attorney.
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