There is no “parent-child” privilege in Virginia.

There is no “parent-child” privilege in Virginia according to a federal court.  This means that a son can be compelled to testify against his parent. The case is Under Seal v. United States, 13-4933 (4th Cir., June 17, 2014).

By contrast, there is an “attorney-client,” “clergy-communicant,” and “interpreter privilege for both civil and criminal cases.  There is also, for civil cases only, a “physician-patient” privilege.  The rules are set forth in the Virginia Rules of Evidence.

It is curious that communications between a parent and a child are not protected as strongly as communications between a husband and wife.  One would think that the same public policy that seeks candor in communications between a married couple would extend to parents and children.

None of the accepted privileges are absolute.  The strongest one is the “attorney-client” privilege. However, even here there are some communications that are not protected.  For example, if a client tells his Virginia lawyer that he intends to commit a crime in the future, the lawyer is compelled to report that intent.

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