Testimonial Privilege Law & Legal Definition


Testimonial privilege means a right to testify founded on a claim of privilege. Testimonial privilege overrules a witnesses duty to reveal matters within the witnesses knowledge, whether at trial or by deposition. The purpose of the testimonial privilege is to foster domestic harmony and prevent discord. The privilege also reflects the natural repugnance of having one spouse testify against the other, and prevents the testifying spouse from having to choose between perjury, contempt of court, or jeopardizing the marriage.

In State v. Burden, 120 Wn.2d 371 (Wash. 1992), the court observed that ‘the spousal testimonial privilege provides that a husband shall not be examined for or against his wife, without the consent of the wife, nor a wife for or against her husband without the consent of the husband; nor can either during marriage or afterward, be without the consent of the other, examined as to any communication made by one to the other during marriage.’