Many people are aware of the rights that protect those accused of committing an offense against self-incrimination. However, that’s not the only privilege people have in a criminal case. Another right people don’t know about is testimonial privileges. This is a right not to testify based on a claim of privilege. 

It is common knowledge that witnesses can speak for or against the defendants, and their testimony can significantly sway the outcome of a case. Thankfully there are laws that shield one from other people’s testimony in certain situations. This means you have the right to object to testimonies that could be prevented through privileges. Testimonial privileges revolve around different forms of communication and established legal restrictions regarding what kinds of information an individual may divulge under oath during court proceedings. In addition, testimonial privileges vary from state to state. You can reach out to a professional law firm like The Medlin Law Firm if you want to speak to an attorney to discuss the testimonial privileges related to your case. Nevertheless, the following are some of the testimonial privilege options that are available;

Spousal Testimonial Privilege

The spousal testimonial privilege can protect a spouse’s testimony in a criminal case. This privilege originated in 1853 in the Evidence Amendment Act. Spousal testimonial privilege is a legal doctrine that protects the rights of a spouse against forced testimony about their special relationship. This privilege covers communications made during a marriage, whether verbal or written. However, it does not apply to communications made after the marriage.

In some circumstances, a spouse on trial may inadvertently waive the spousal testimonial privilege. These circumstances are typically cases in which a spouse was the one who filed the action against the other spouse. In these situations, however, the spouse cannot change their mind after consenting to waive the privilege.

Currently, spousal testimonial privilege is recognized in Federal and state courts. It protects the testimony of a spouse against the other spouse, but the privilege does not apply to cooperation with law enforcement investigators. Thus, spousal testimony can be used to support the defense or protect a defendant’s reputation.

Attorney-client communications

The attorney-client privilege protects communication between a lawyer and a client in a criminal case. However, it does not apply when a client sues their attorney or in cases involving malpractice or ineffective assistance of counsel. In such cases, the attorney-client privilege cannot prevent the disclosure of underlying facts.

There are many exceptions to the privilege. For instance, communication between a client and an attorney in a public place, such as a public park, is not privileged. What this means is that privilege cannot be waived unless the communication is made in an environment of absolute privacy.

Nevertheless, attorney-client privilege helps create a trusting relationship between the client and attorney and promotes open communication without fear of retribution. 

In most cases, the attorney-client privilege protects confidential communications between a client and his attorney. However, in criminal cases, communications involving criminal conduct may not be protected by this privilege. Moreover, in some cases, it can be waived if a third party is present while the communication is taking place.

Doctor-Client Privileges

Although the nation’s federal law does not recognize this privilege, it still exists. The privilege is meant to protect communications between a doctor and their patients. It allows a patient to seek medical care without the fear of any ramifications.  

Depending on the region where the court case is taking place, this doctor-client privilege may not or may be absolute. For instance, psychologists and psychiatrists sometimes get forced to report patients who they believe are a danger to others or even themselves. 

Clergy Privilege

The Federal Rules of Evidence recognize a clergy privilege. Both the person confessing to the clergyperson and the clergyperson are granted this privilege. It safeguards discussion between religious counselors and clients who address the clergyperson in that capacity. When this privilege is acknowledged, for instance, a confession given to a priest in the confession room cannot be brought up in court.

In conclusion, these privileges can be used to your favor in a criminal law court. This is why it pays to have an experienced attorney by your side all through your criminal case process. They understand these privileges and know how best to use them to your advantage. So make sure to find one you can trust and hire them once you get arrested for a criminal case.