You’ve undoubtedly seen TV or movies where the criminal marries so their husband or wife can’t spill the beans. To a certain extent, Illinois evidence rules do recognize a marital privilege. Your spouse cannot be forced to testify against you, but there are exceptions.

Under Illinois law, a husband and wife may testify for or against the other in a criminal case, but they may not testify as to any conversation or admission made by one to the other during their marriage. The marital privilege, however, is suspended when either spouse is charged with a crime against the other’s person or property or where one spouse has abandoned the other. More importantly, a spouse may testify when the interests of their own or another’s children under their care are involved. Furthermore, a spouse may testify when either is charged with an offense involving sexual assault or abuse of any minor child under their care. (See 725 ILCS 5/115-16).

In one Illinois appellate case, the court allowed a husband to tesify about a conversation prior to their daughter’s murder where he had told his wife their marriage was over. The court reasoned that the interests of the couple’s child were directly at stake despite the wife’s argument that the conversation was not directly related to the child’s death and thus should be excluded. (See People v Garner).

The rules of evidence can be tricky and difficult to understand. If you are charged with a criminal case, contact an experienced attorney immediately to help guide you through the judicial process.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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