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What about Spousal Privilege and CDV?

South Carolina has a limited spousal privilege statute codified in S.C. Code ยง 19-11-30. This law provides for grounds where married couples cannot be compelled or required to testify against the other. This privilege only applies between married couples. Other types of household members for purposes of the CDV law are not included.

You can be charged with CDV based on one of three different allegations involving you and a household member:

  • Actual physical harm.
  • Attempted physical harm.
  • A threat or offer to cause physical harm.

The law specifically provides for privilege in circumstances involving communications between a married couple. The Court has declined to interpret this statute to cover details of an assault, considering an alleged assault to be a physical act and not a communication.

Based on this interpretation a person in South Carolina can be compelled or required by the Court to testify against their spouse regarding an actual physical assault or an attempted physical assault. Spousal privilege therefore does not apply to the first or second grounds I listed above. It does however appear that in a limited number of CDV arrests, those based solely on threats of physical harm, that the spousal privilege statute may be applicable.

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James R. Snell, Jr. - Lexington Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
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