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The law surrounding domestic violence cases can be complex. Domestic violence involves both family and criminal courts despite there being two distinct disciplines. Since domestic violence exists at the intersection of family and criminal law, the person experiencing the alleged violence will have to choose between or pursue both options, which often results in conflicting court rulings and perplexing legal proceedings.
Many choose to go to a family court rather than file a criminal complaint. Still, others may be unsure about how to proceed or whether to work with a family lawyer or a criminal defense attorney. Accusers and suspects can better prepare themselves by understanding how domestic violence fits into both legal systems.
The Parties and Objectives Involved in Criminal and Family Court
Cases involving domestic violence are treated differently in each court. Since criminal and family courts both serve their own distinct purposes, they also follow their own legal procedures. In each court, the parties involved also serve different roles.
The Criminal Court’s Parties and Objectives
The government and the accused are the parties involved in a criminal court case. The criminal court turns the state’s vast authority against the defendant. The accused party is the defendant, and criminal courts aim to determine whether the defendant is guilty of a crime.
The accuser benefits from this power dynamic while the defendant is at a disadvantage. Also, the state may conduct investigations and bring charges with or without the accuser’s consent since the criminal court views the situation as an offense against the public. Criminal courts might also restrict the defendant’s ability to take specific actions, such as contacting their partner.
The Family Court’s Parties and Objectives
Resolving issues directly related to the ending of a relationship, like custody and parenting time, fall on family courts. You and your partner are typically the only parties in family court. The purpose of family court is to give two parties a chance to resolve their personal issues in front of a neutral third party who will have the final say.
Family courts do not determine whether a person has committed a crime. Instead, they make decisions regarding how to settle disagreements between partners who are separating. The criminal consequences of domestic violence in a family court order are not something the family court system is set up to handle. The state has limited influence, and each party is essentially on their own.
How Outcomes Are Reached in Criminal and Family Courts
The fundamental premise of family law proceedings is that a family dispute is not a criminal matter. As a result, family courts lack the authority to address criminal behavior that occurs in family law disputes, and the accuser is not given any legal protections during a family law dispute.
When allegations of abuse are made in family court, the accused abuser has the opportunity to defend themselves and make counterclaims. They have the opportunity to utilize the legal system against their accuser, which is not possible in criminal court cases.
The accused is not permitted to make counterclaims against the accuser in criminal court. The defendant can only refute the accusations that have already been made, and no additional charges may be brought.
Criminal courts also allow accusers to ask for protection orders, also known as restraining orders in California. If the accused abuser is proven guilty in court, they could be sentenced to jail time and receive a criminal record. In the outcomes of family court, nobody typically gets put in jail or acquires a criminal record.
Discuss Your Legal Options With a Knowledgeable Domestic Violence Lawyer
Many spouses erroneously think that domestic violence cases will be decided by family and criminal courts utilizing the same laws and regulations, but this is not the case at all. Because family and criminal law are so different, those accused of domestic violence must consider their legal options carefully. As experienced criminal defense lawyers, Dod Law, APC is familiar with addressing domestic violence cases like these.
We have an in-depth understanding of domestic violence laws and can outline the distinctions between criminal and family law. Should you require criminal defense for a domestic violence accusation, we offer strong criminal defense strategies that have helped our clients refute accusations and protect their rights. To schedule a free consultation, give us a call at (619) 814-5110 or complete and submit our contact form.