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Articles Posted in Spousal Privilege

Although there are many different types of domestic violence, one of the most frequently found forms is when it is between spouses. California Penal Code § 273.5 and §243(e)(1) address spousal violence.

CPC § 273.5 makes it a felony for a person to inflict corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition against a spouse. A spouse as defined in this section will also include a former spouse, someone you have lived with or do live with, or the mother or father of your child. Additionally, a visible injury is required to be charged with this offense, even if it is a slight bruise or swelling.

CPC § 243(e)(1) addresses a lesser charge than CPC § 273.5. CPC § 273.5 will be charged as a felony whereas §243(e)(1) is a misdemeanor battery charge. Under this section, a person will be charged with battery if it is committed against a spouse. The section also extends battery upon not just a spouse, but also someone with whom you are living, someone to whom you are engaged, the parent of your child, a former spouse or someone whom you are dating.

Spousal privilege is defined under California Evidence Code §§ 970-973. Under this section, a married person has the privilege to not testify against his or her spouse in any proceeding, unless otherwise directed by statute.

Under this section, a married person may not be called as a witness in a case in which his or her spouse is a party, unless there is express consent from the spouse holding the privilege. The only exception is if the spouse is called to testify as a witness without the opposite party knowing of the marital relationship in good faith.

The spousal privilege may not be exercised in a case of domestic violence. California Evidence Code § 972 (e)(1) states that a married person does not have the spousal privilege in a criminal proceeding in which one spouse is charged with a crime against the person of the other spouse.