In this video, we’re going to explore the topic of spousal immunity. We’ll talk about what it is, why it exists, and how it affects married couples.
Spouses can’t testify against you in court, which can be a huge advantage for you. We’ll explore the reasons why spousal immunity exists and how it affects married couples. If you want to know more about testifying in court, then this video is for you!
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Hi, everyone. Did you know the state can’t necessarily compel your spouse to testify against you?
This is Christina Williams with Just Criminal Law.
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And this is David Mann, legal storytelling specialist. Hmm, okay. So how does that work?
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Well, it’s through a law and it’s in most states, and it involves spousal immunity. That is,
if the state calls, say, the wife of the accused to the stand, the wife can refuse to testify
by invoking the spousal immunity.
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Did this come after some particular case happened where the set it in motion?
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Yes, it has happened several times in Wyoming, where the Supreme Court has looked at it. And, you know,
an example of a situation where this would come up would be, say, the husband and his best friend are out
in the garage for an evening of drinking beer and, you know, working on their car. And they end up conspiring
to commit a crime. And they actually go through with the crime; you know, kind of throw their better judgment to the wind.
And then, once they’ve sobered up a little bit, they realize what they’ve done. And the husband tells the wife what happened
and, you know, asks her for her advice on what he should do.
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Well, the police end up getting called and all of the parties kind of decide they’re going to tell a story
about what really happened. So the police arrive and they kind of see the stories and the evidence aren’t matching up.
So they ask everyone to come down to the station.
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Okay. So now they bring them down to the station and this is where they usually separate them into different rooms and
interview them separately. And one of them is a married couple being separated. And that’s what we’re getting at, right?
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Right. And, you know, they have all of them being questioned at the same time. And it doesn’t take very long before the wife ends
up crumbling and telling the police what really happened.
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Hmm. Okay. And so then I assume the police then go into the room that he’s in and say, ‘Well, you know, she just spilled the beans
on the whole thing.’ And then he’s got a choice of not saying anything or saying something. And I bet he says something, right?
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Yes. You guessed it right. Any time something thinks that, you know, the police have them in a corner and they have no hope
of maintaining their story, they usually confess. And so that’s exactly what went on in the head of the husband, who ends up confessing.
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Okay. But you led this off by saying your spouse’s testimony can’t be used against you, or that she can’t be compelled to testify.
So he really confessed to something he never needed to confess to, because they couldn’t use her testimony anyway. Is that right?
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That’s right. And little did he know, but anything that she said, you know, if the state called her to the stand to testify,
she could say ‘I’m invoking my spousal immunity and will not testify against him.’
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Wow. But because he already admitted it, it’s kind of too late. So I guess the lesson here is,
as we’ve said many times and other ones do, just don’t talk. Just dont say anything. And on this one, you really
don’t have a leg to stand on because they can’t use what she’s saying anyway.
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Right. Exactly. By all means, tell the police you want to invoke your Fifth Amendment rights and you want your lawyer present,
and that’ll stop all the questioning.
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And how do they get a hold of you, the lawyer?
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We’ll include a link in the description where they can call, text, or chat with a member of my team, any time – day or night.
Here at Just Criminal Law, we know you only get one shot at justice. So make yours count.
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