New Minnesota Law Privileges Communications Between Domestic Abuse Advocates and Victims
Friday, June 6, 2008 9:52 AM

A new Minnesota law limits the testimony that domestic abuse advocates can make without the consent of victims, giving advocates similar privileges as attorneys and clergy to protect the privacy of those who seek their assistance. The new law states: “A domestic abuse advocate may not be compelled to disclose any opinion or information received from or about the victim without the consent of the victim unless ordered by the court.” Before a judge compels disclosure, he or she must balance the public interest in disclosure against the effect it would have on the victim, her relationship with the domestic abuse advocate, and the services the advocate provides. The advocates affected by the law include any employee or supervised volunteer from a community-based battered women’s shelter and domestic abuse program that is eligible to receive state funding but is not directly administered or supervised by a prosecutor’s office or a law enforcement or government agency.

The law has the potential to increase trust and communication in advocate-victim relationships, thereby improving the support victims receive. It amends Minnesota Statutes 2007 Supplement, section 595.02, subdivision 1, and will go into effect on August 1, 2008.

For the full text of the new law, click here.

Compiled from: “MCBW Public Policy & Legislative Update: 2008 Brief Legislative Summary,” Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, 4 June 2008; Minnesota Session Laws Chapter 302, Minnesota Office of the Revisor of Statutes, last accessed 6 June 2008.