Testimony: Privileges

Testimony: Privileges

There are times when court allows for people not to give testimony. Here are some common examples of when.

There are many different instances in which a person does not have to answer before the court as to the criminal liability of another or themselves. These cases, although rare, are in place to help the defendant in criminal proceedings. Here is a brief list and explanation of the most common privileges.  

Attorney-Client Privilege

This privilege is held by the client to an attorney. Here, attorneys are restricted from answering questions about matters discussed in private with their clients. In one such famous instance, a client told his attorney where he hid a dead body and gave the attorney permission to tell the police. Afterward, when the police had found the body they questioned the attorney about who the killer was. Due to the attorney-client privilege, the attorney could not answer, not even to this day.  

Privilege Against Self-Incrimination

This privilege is often referred to as “pleading the 5th” as it is given to citizens through the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution. This privilege, held by the defendant in a case, has the right not to answer questions that would incriminate himself.

Spouse Privilege

This privilege, held by a couple who is married, can choose not to incriminate the other in criminal proceedings. This privilege is put in place to prevent domestic unions from being torn about over legal battles.

Clergy communications Privilege

This privilege, like the Attorney-Client Privilege, is where a member of the clergy cannot answer questions regarding the guilt of a person who had made a confession to them earlier. All testimonies made while in a confessional are considered confidential and are not permitted in court unless the defendant waives this right. Like the Attorney-Client Privilege, this is one of the oldest privileges held by the defendant. 

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