Criminal Sexual Contact in Union County

The Appellate Division ruled that a wife cannot be made to testify against her husband in a criminal sexual contact case in Union County.

In a case on appeal from Union County, the Appellate Division ruled the wife of a Springfield doctor could not be forced to testify against her husband in a case involving criminal sexual contact of a patient.

Jeanette Mauti may have attempted to conceal or tamper with evidence against her husband James Mauti when the pair was not married, but the circumstances of the case do not exempt her from protection of the spousal testimonial privilege, Judge Jose Fuentes wrote for the Appellate panel.  The spousal testimonial privilege, “which protects a spouse from testifying against his or her partner in most criminal cases,” is a reflection of the importance society places on marriage, the court wrote. Conflicts arise when attempts to pierce that privilege are made in the interest of the public good, the court said.

This ruling has considerable implications.  Even in sexual assault cases where a spouse consciously made efforts to destroy evidence that implicated her husband, that spouse cannot be forced to testify against her husband despite not being married at the time of the obstruction.  In cases of sexual assault, it is of the utmost importance that an individual seek a skilled defense attorney with knowledge of these rules as they can have a significant impact on any possible trial outcome.