Marital privilege dealing with testifying against one’s spouse under Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence

by | Aug 15, 2013 | Trials & Hearings

This “privilege prevents a husband or wife from testifying against their spouse as to any communications which were made during the marital relationship.”  The privilege remains in effect through death or divorce.  The confidential communication cannot be divulged without the consent of the other spouse.  The public policy sought to be enhanced by this privilege is the preservation of marital harmony and the resultant benefits to society from that harmony.  Communications between spouses are presumed to be confidential, and the party opposing application of the rule disqualifying such testimony bears the burden of overcoming this presumption.  In order for a confidential communication between spouses to be protected, knowledge must be gained through the marital relationship and in the confidence which that relationship inspires.  In order to be protected under § 5914, it is essential that the communication be made in confidence and with the intention it not be divulged.  “Therefore, whether a particular communication is privileged depends upon its nature and character of the circumstances under which it was said.” Accordingly, if the nature of the communication is not imbued with an aura of a sharing disclosure precipitated largely due to the closeness spouses share, then arguably it is not privileged. 

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