Do Spouses have to Testify Against each other in Ohio?

Generally they do not have to testify.  In Ohio everyone is competent to testify except for a few specific categories of people.  Under Ohio law, a witness-spouse is considered “incompetent” to testify and thus the State cannot force a witness spouse to testify if they do not want to


However, if the witness spouse is the victim in the case or the victim in the case is the witness spouse’s child then the State can force the witness spouse to testify.  Also, if the witness spouse and the defendant are no longer married then the State can force them to testify even if the incident that led to the charges happened during the time of the marriage. 


If the witness spouse wants to testify then spousal privilege comes into play.  Under Ohio’s spousal privilege law, even if a husband or wife wanted to testify, the defendant spouse could prevent it from being allowed as evidence.  Ohio law protects things said or done, by spouses, in the each other’s presence, while they are married, as long as no third party is present.   This privilege continues even if parties are no longer married.  As long the events took place during the marriage the privilege will still apply.  But like spousal competency, if the witness spouse is the victim in the case, the defendant spouse cannot prevent them from testifying. 


Categories: General
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