A spousal communications privilege applies in civil and in criminal cases.
The communications privilege begins on marriage. It covers communications made during the marriage, and cannot be invoked to protect confidential communications between currently married spouses which occurred prior to their marriage. Unlike testimonial privilege, the communications privilege survives the end of a marriage, and may be asserted by a spouse to protect confidential communications that were made during the marriage—even after divorce or death.
A minority of states apply testimonial privilege in both criminal and civil cases. According to the website linked below, in New York, testimonial privilege only applies in criminal cases.
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