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How Does Criminal Law Impact a Divorce?

phoenix law

Divorces are often tumultuous, and in some cases a spouse makes a decision to divorce based on abuse of either themselves or their children. Any person can press criminal charges in the state of Arizona at any time if they suffered abuse. However, in some cases, these charges occur against innocent spouses as retaliation or revenge maneuvers by one spouse against another. With criminal charges pending, a parent may then have to make decisions about orders of protection or temporary custody orders in family court as well. As a result criminal law impacts divorce cases because what occurs in family court can be used against a parent or spouse in the criminal hearing at a later time. Visiting with an experienced criminal defense attorney like Tim Hintze at Rosenstein Law Group along with consulting a family law attorney at My Modern Law can help you better understand all of your legal options and ensure you receive the justice you deserve.

Criminal Law and Divorce

Divorces often have hearings for custody or other matters prior to the finalization of the divorce by the court. In some cases, emergency hearings occur as a result of allegations of domestic violence, or sexual abuse against the spouse or children. Under the Arizona State Legislature Victim’s Bill of Rights, all allegations of abuse will be taken seriously. If a spouse makes these allegations, in most cases an emergency hearing regarding the custody of the children or a temporary restraining order may occur. While a family court does have the complete legal authority to make determinations regarding these matters, what the parties say at these hearings could be used in a later criminal hearing regarding the allegations of abuse or violence. Therefore, a person needs to weigh very carefully whether or not they want to actually defend themselves at any of these emergency hearings.

Why Family Court Hearings Prove Problematic for Criminal Defendants

In most cases, especially if the criminal charges were made out of spite and are not actually valid, a spouse or parent will want to vigorously defend their rights in family court. No parent wants to agree to limit or eliminate visitation with their child, especially if the reason is based on lies. In other cases, a spouse does not want to have a temporary restraining order on their record. With good intentions, spouses boldly go in to defend themselves and their legal rights. However, anything that a spouse says or does in a family court hearing can be used against them at a later time in a criminal case. Small mistakes, or incorrectly remembering an event or a date can prove problematic for a spouse at a criminal trial. If a spouse makes any kind of error, even a seemingly innocent one, it may be used in a criminal trial to impugn the character of the spouse and provide a foundation upon which the prosecution can build a stronger case.

The Fifth Amendment

In cases where criminal law impacts a divorce, a spouse has the right to take the Fifth Amendment during family court hearings. The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States affords people the right not to incriminate themselves. While some people may think that taking the Fifth Amendment means automatic guilt, in many cases it means that they understand that anything they say can be twisted to be used against them to prevent them from receiving justice. Any hearing regarding an order of protection or custody order can result in a spouse saying things to harm their criminal case unintentionally. Therefore, a difficult decision needs to be made whether or not to actually speak at these hearings or take the Fifth Amendment. It is important to note that in some family court hearings, a spouse does not have the ability to take the Fifth Amendment. Visiting with an experienced criminal defense attorney at Rosenstein Law Group can help you better understand your legal rights.

Understanding the Basics of Criminal Law

If you were unfairly and unjustly charged with any kind of abuse or harm of your spouse or children, you may feel overwhelmed. Visiting with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you better understand your legal options with your specific facts and circumstances, however, the following are some of the basis of criminal law.

The Accuser Has the Burden of Proof

The accuser (known as the plaintiff) has the legal responsibility and the requirement to prove that there was actually domestic violence or criminal activity. A defendant has the legal right to either take the Fifth Amendment and not testify regarding any of the issues, or can explain their side of the case. Every situation will be different, and a criminal defense attorney can help you better understand what path may better help ensure the protection of your legal rights.

Plaintiff Testimony in Criminal Cases

While a defendant (the person accused) does not have to testify (speak at a trial), the plaintiff does have to testify regarding the events that they accuse the defendant of in a court of law. Depending on how that testimony goes, a criminal defense attorney may either suggest that a defendant take the stand and testify, or take the Fifth Amendment.

Contact Experienced Attorneys To Help Understand How Criminal Law Impacts a Divorce

Every parent wants to see their children, or defend themselves against baseless accusations of abuse. However, the testimony at a civil family court trial can negatively impact a criminal proceeding, which could lead to substantial fines or even jail time depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. If you are facing both family law issues as well as criminal law issues, consider visiting with the experienced divorce attorneys at My Modern Law and Tim Hintze at Rosenstein Law Group to learn more about all of your legal options.


Listen to attorney Billie Tarascio and criminal defense attorney Tim Hintze discuss the impacts of criminal charges in a family court case.

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