Particularly in cases involving allegations of domestic violence, battery, assault, and child abuse, we are frequently asked whether a spouse can be forced to testify against their spouse in a criminal case in Georgia. In certain scenarios, a spouse may be compelled to testified against their spouse in Georgia.
The general rule that communications within the marriage are privileged is stated in O.C.G.A. § 24-5-501:
(a) There are certain admissions and communications excluded from evidence on grounds of public policy, including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) Communications between husband and wife[.]
The exceptions to the general rule that communications between spouses are privileged is stated in O.C.G.A. § 24-5-503:
(a) A husband and wife shall be competent but shall not be compellable to give evidence in any criminal proceeding for or against each other.
(b) The privilege created by subsection (a) of this Code section or by corresponding privileges in paragraph (1) of subsection (a) of Code Section 24-5-501 or subsection (a) of Code Section 24-5-505 shall not apply in proceedings in which:
(1) The husband or wife is charged with a crime against the person of a child under the age of 18, but such husband or wife shall be compellable to give evidence only on the specific act for which the accused is charged;
(2) The husband or wife is charged with a crime against his or her spouse;(3) The husband or wife is charged with causing physical damage to property belonging to the husband and wife or to their separate property; or(4) The alleged crime against his or her current spouse occurred prior to the lawful marriage of the husband and wife.
There are special considerations that must be made for a spouse may be charged criminally arising from the same conduct as their spouse. If there are concerns about whether a spouse may be charged in addition to their spouse if testimony is given, consult with an attorney. As a general rule, always consult with an attorney before you speak with law enforcement in any type of investigation. There is no harm whatsoever in taking some time to consider whether you should speak with law enforcement; however, there is always the possibility of harm that may arise from cooperating with an investigation, and you can never take back what it is that is said to law enforcement.
If you have questions about what evidence is admissible in a Georgia criminal case involving your spouse, contact The Sessions Law Firm at (470) 225-7710.
Atlanta, Georgia 30308
Phone: (470) 225-7710