When a married Kentucky resident is alleged to have committed a crime, their spouse has something called spousal immunity for most types of offenses. Spousal immunity means that the spouse does not have to testify against their spouse who is charged if they learned information during the course of their marriage.
Spousal immunity, also called marital privilege, is a rule of evidence that allows spouses to refuse to testify against their spouse who is charged with a crime. It also allows the charged spouse to prevent the other spouse from being called as a witness against them in many types of cases. The privilege extends to preventing the other spouse from disclosing information that was told to them that is of a confidential nature.
In Kentucky, spousal immunity is codified at Kentucky Rules of Evidence 504(a). Under the rule, the spouse can refuse to testify against their charged spouse. The charged spouse may also prevent their spouse from being called to testify against them even if the other spouse wishes to do so. This applies for anything that occurred after the date of their marriage. There are exceptions to the rule outlined in the law, including when the spouse was the victim of the charged one, if the victim of the charged spouse was a minor, a person living in the home with either spouse or a third party who was a victim in the course of wrongful conduct towards any of the other excepted parties.
Spousal immunity exists to protect people who are charged with crimes in Kentucky against having their spouses forced to testify against them. The law exists in order to preserve marital relationships. People who are charged with offenses and who are married may want to speak with a criminal defense attorney in order to find out if it applies to their spouses in their cases.