The “spousal privilege” under Maryland criminal law precludes a person from being compelled to testify against their spouse who is charged with a crime. Even if the two are estranged at the time of trial, the privilege remains applicable until the marriage is officially annulled or dissolved. The only exceptions, where a person can be compelled to testify against their spouse, are when: 1) the defendant/spouse is charged with abuse of a child under 18; and 2) the defendant/spouse is charged with assault of the other spouse and, in a previous trial of the same nature, the other spouse invoked the spousal privilege and refused to testify.
It’s important to note that invocation of the spousal privilege does not require the exclusion of an otherwise admissible out-of-court statement by that spouse. Even if wife invokes the privilege and refuses to testify, her out-of-court statements may nonetheless be deemed admissible if the State can successfully argue that they fall under a particular hearsay exception.
In a situation where the wife has previously inked her privilege as a victim, affect her ability to invoke the privilege and refuse to testify against husband in the trial when she is not a victim but rather is called as a witness against her husband.
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