What Kinds of Testimonial Privileges Do We Have In a Criminal Case?

Do we have any privileges that will prevent people from testifying against us in a criminal case? While most people are aware of, or partially understand the rights afforded to them, including the protection from self-incrimination, it is less commonly known that there are laws that can aid an individual in preventing others from testifying against them. Different privileges are available under state and federal law, and are often recognized in both state and federal courts. Although we may have certain privileges available, it is usually up to the defendant or attorney to assert their intentions of using these protections. The defendant usually must knowingly object to any testimony that may potentially be protected by a recognized privilege.

Fort Lauderdale DUI Attorney Kenneth Padowitz explores the various privileges against incriminating testimony when facing a criminal charge.Attorney-Client Privilege

This is one of the most commonly known, and exists to allow the attorney and client to be able to discuss all aspects of a case, without the client fearing that their attorney will end up using the information that was provided against them in trial.

Religious Confession (Clergy Privilege)

The Federal Rules of Evidence recognize the clergy privilege, protecting both the individual making the confession and the individual receiving the confession. This is similar to the Attorney-Client Privilege we went over above; it allows the individual to practice their religion without fear of legal consequence.

Doctor-Client Privilege (Physician-Patient/Psychiatrist-Patient)

Although the Federal Rules of Evidence does not recognize this privilege, it exists to protect the communications between a patient and their doctor, allowing the patient to seek medical care without fear of legal ramifications. Depending on the jurisdiction, this type of privilege may or may not be absolute. For example, psychiatrists and psychologists are often forced to report to the police if their client is believed to be a danger to themselves or others.

Spousal Testimonial Privilege (Marital Communications Privilege)

Although similar, these two privileges apply in slightly different situations.

The Spousal Testimonial Privilege does not allow the testimony against a spouse in a criminal trial. This was enacted on the basis that a married couple should be considered a single legal entity, and thus should not be permitted to testify against itself. The majority of states recognize this privilege, and both husband and wife can claim this privilege and prevents being forced to testify. This privilege usually requires that the spouses still be married at the time of trial. A criminal case in which the spouse is accused of harming the other spouse or their child, and various other sex crimes, are exceptions to this privilege.

The Marital Communications Privilege does not allow testimony regarding any “confidential communications” between the married couple. Most jurisdictions allow this in both civil and criminal cases. This privilege specifically protects one spouse from being able to give testimony based on confidential information that was shared by the other spouse. Unlike the Spousal Testimonial Privilege, the Marital Communications Privilege usually still applies even after a divorce, as long as the communication is question took place during marriage.


Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney

If you need criminal defense help, contact our law firm and ask for Kenneth Padowitz today. Kenneth Padowitz aggressively defends all criminal cases for clients throughout Broward County and all of South Florida, including: Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Miami, Palm Beach, Parkland, Plantation, Cooper City, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Davie, Pembroke Pines, and Weston. His unmatched legal experience has given him a broad range of knowledge about criminal defense and laws, which makes him uniquely qualified to resolve your criminal charge . He will look at the potential mitigating factors of your case, and will find the best way to proceed with your criminal charge and aggressively defend your rights. An aggressive criminal attorney is essential. Fort Lauderdale Criminal Attorney Kenneth Padowitz, provides a strategic criminal defense to those facing State and Federal criminal charges.


Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s Leading DUI Attorney