When Criminal Court and Family Court Collide

My main practice areas are criminal cases and family court cases. As such, I have the opportunity to represent clients who find themselves accused of domestic violence charges while at the same time facing contentious family court cases, and on occasion, even multiple family court cases.

These situations can take many forms. The most common situation is that a client is charged with domestic violence (Domestic Violence 3rd Degree, Domestic Violence 2nd Degree, Domestic Violence 1st Degree, or Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature), and that leads to the alleged victim in the case to file a separation action in the Family Court.

The separate Family Court action may begin with the alleged victim filing a Petition for an Order of Protection. At an Order of Protection hearing, the Family Court Judge may issue an Order of Protection against the accused, wherein the accused cannot have any contact with the alleged victim for a period of six months or one year. An Order of Protection can also be renewed upon good cause shown. If a person violates the Order of Protection, that person can be subject to the contempt powers of the Family Court and can be charged with the criminal offense of Violating an Order of Protection. 

At an Order of Protection hearing, the Family Court also has the authority to order other types of relief, such as temporary possession of a marital home, temporary child custody, temporary child support, and temporary alimony.

An Order of Protection hearing is a trial in the Family Court. The alleged victim testifies, can call witnesses, can introduce evidence, and is subject to cross examination. The accused can cross examine the alleged victim and can also introduce evidence and call witnesses. 

If you have been charged with domestic violence and then are served with a Notice and Petition for an Order of Protection, you need to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Order of Protection hearings are typically scheduled very quickly after you have been arrested, well before any court dates are scheduled in your criminal case. Any testimony you provide and anything you say in an Order of Protection hearing can be used against you in your criminal case, so it is very important to speak with a lawyer before attending an Order of Protection hearing, especially if you have a parallel domestic violence case pending.

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