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In the Middle of a Family Law case ... Charged with a Crime ... What To Do?

It is not unusual during a contentious divorce or child custody case for one of the parties to find Attorney Jaye L. Rancourt themselves accused of a criminal act. In very serious cases, accusations of domestic and sexual violence may arise. Accusations of criminal mischief (damaging the property of another), harassment (repeated and unwanted contact), and wire tap (recording the other party without their knowledge) are not uncommon occurrences. You need to know how to proceed should these allegations arise.

First, find a criminal defense lawyer. Not all lawyers are well versed in the criminal justice system. If your family law attorney does not regularly practice criminal defense, you may need to engage another attorney. Your family law attorney may practice in the same firm as a criminal defense lawyer. This works well as they can collaborate to protect you in the family law and criminal justice settings.

Second, if you have an upcoming hearing in your divorce or custody case and you stand accused of a crime, get legal advice regarding your right to remain silent and whether or not you want to invoke this right at the divorce or custody hearing. Anything you say in a court proceeding can be used against you later in your criminal proceeding. In some cases it may be advisable to go forward with the divorce or custody hearing. In other cases it may be advisable to attempt to continue the hearing in order to protect your right to remain silent.

Third, make sure you are clear on what may be competing orders from different courts and how these orders interact with each other. For example, you may be ordered by the family court to communicate with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse regarding child exchanges every week. At the same time you may be directed by a judge in your criminal case to have no contact with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. If you do not have an attorney you need to communicate with the Court to obtain clarification regarding the intersection of these two orders. An attorney can help you to navigate this difficult scenario and file motions with the Courts in order to clarify the level of communication, if any, is permitted.

Being charged with a crime is a very serious issue as a conviction can have adverse consequences immediately and long into the future. Being charged with a crime can also have serious adverse consequences in your family court proceedings. Understanding how these two areas of law impact each other is crucial to a successful outcome in both legal proceedings.