Evidence Code

ORS 40.255
Rule 505. Spousal privilege


As used in this section, unless the context requires otherwise:


“Confidential communication” means a communication by a spouse to the other spouse and not intended to be disclosed to any other person.


“Marriage” means a marital relationship between two individuals, legally recognized under the laws of this state.


“Spouse” means an individual in a marriage with another individual.


In any civil or criminal action, a spouse has a privilege to refuse to disclose and to prevent the other spouse from disclosing any confidential communication made by one spouse to the other during the marriage. The privilege created by this subsection may be claimed by either spouse. The authority of the spouse to claim the privilege and the claiming of the privilege is presumed in the absence of evidence to the contrary.


In any criminal proceeding, neither spouse, during the marriage, shall be examined adversely against the other as to any other matter occurring during the marriage unless the spouse called as a witness consents to testify.


There is no privilege under this section:


In all criminal actions in which one spouse is charged with bigamy or with an offense or attempted offense against the person or property of the other spouse or of a child of either, or with an offense against the person or property of a third person committed in the course of committing or attempting to commit an offense against the other spouse;


As to matters occurring prior to the marriage; or


In any civil action where the spouses are adverse parties. [1981 c.892 §34; 1983 c.433 §1; 2016 c.46 §1]

(Rule 505)

See also annotations under ORS 44.040 in permanent edition.

Notes of Decisions

Under Former Similar Statute (Ors 44.040)

A bigamous or otherwise void marriage does not support a claim of marital privilege. State v. Kelsey, 28 Or App 255, 558 P2d 1299 (1977)

The marital privilege is available in probation revocation proceedings. State v. Schier, 47 Or App 1075, 615 P2d 1147 (1980)

A party does not waive marital privilege when privileged subject is opened for first time on cross-examination. State v. Schier, 47 Or App 1075, 615 P2d 1147 (1980)

Under Evidence Code

Invocation of spousal privilege in front of jury is inherently prejudicial; privilege was violated where spouse repeatedly asserted it in front of jury and was ordered to testify anyway. State v. Quintero, 110 Or App 247, 823 P2d 981 (1991), Sup Ct review denied

For purposes of exception to spousal privilege, whether "offense" or "attempted offense" is against person or property of spouse depends on specific conduct that resulted in defendant being charged, not crime with which defendant is charged. State v. Jansen, 198 Or App 260, 108 P3d 92 (2005)

Intent of communicating spouse controls whether spousal communications are confidential. State v. Serrano, 346 Or 311, 210 P3d 892 (2009)

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Notes of Decisions

General rule is that polygraph evidence is inadmissible in proceeding governed by Oregon Evidence Code. State v. Brown, 297 Or 404, 687 P2d 751 (1984)

Party could introduce results of polygraph test taken by spouse for purpose of showing that response of party upon learning polygraph results was reasonable. Fromdahl and Fromdahl, 314 Or 496, 840 P2d 683 (1992)

Where state law completely precludes reliable, materially exculpatory evidence, exclusion of that evidence violates Due Process Clauses of United States Constitution. State v. Cazares-Mendez, 233 Or App 310, 227 P3d 172 (2010), aff'd State v. Cazares-Mendez/Reyes-Sanchez, 350 Or 491, 256 P3d 104 (2011)

Oregon Evidence Code articulates minimum standards of reliability that apply to many types of evidence for admissibility, including eyewitness identification evidence, and parties must employ code to address admissibility of eyewitness testimony. State v. Lawson/James, 352 Or 724, 291 P3d 673 (2012)

Law Review Citations

59 OLR 43 (1980); 19 WLR 343 (1983)

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Evidence Code

Annotations are listed under the heading "Under former similar statute" if they predate the adoption of the Evidence Code, which went into effect January 1, 1982.


Last accessed
Jun. 26, 2021