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Criminal Defense

This page is intended as a very general overview of the interaction of criminal issues with family law cases. The statements and information provided on this website are for informational purposes only. This site is not intended to provide legal advice to the reader and NO attorney-client relationship shall be deemed to arise from the receipt of this page. An attorney-client relationship only arises after the attorney and client have signed a written attorney-client agreement, after the attorney has evaluated the background facts provided and has accepted the representation of the client's legal action.

It is an unfortunate reality that, often, a divorce or other family law case is accompanied by a criminal case. It typically goes like this: once one spouse has decided to file for divorce, tensions in the house get ratcheted up and an argument that, in earlier times, wouldn't have been a big deal, leads to the police being called to report a threat or assault. Sometimes, a situation can get out of control and the police need to be called. But, even worse, is when one spouse makes a false report of assault against the other in order to gain advantage in a custody battle. We've seen that more than once. Sometimes, the person who calls the police thinks they will show up, calm the situation down, and then they'll leave and it'll be over and done with. But, in reality, if the police receive a report that a threat has been made or an assault has been committed, they're likely to file charges based on that report—and may do so even if the reporting party later says they want the case dropped.

An assault charge can have a dramatic effect on a family law case. For instance, if a parent is found to have committed family violence, he or she may have a protective order granted against them which will restrict, or even prohibit, their ability to see their child for a time. Additionally, §153.004 of the Family Code tells judges that they cannot grant primary custody to a parent who has engaged in family violence. The Family Code also authorizes judges to limit the ability of a parent who has committed family violence to even see their child (for instance, the judge may order that the parent cannot have the child overnight and/or that their time with the child has to be supervised by a third party) on a more-or-less permanent basis.

Obviously, any competent family law attorney will know that an assault charge can be a huge issue in a divorce or family law case. But, many attorneys who practice family law have never actually practiced criminal law and have no experience in how to negotiate with the District Attorney's Office or how to properly prepare a criminal case for trial. Because of that, clients who are facing a “cross-over case,” one that's proceeding both in family court and criminal court, have to hire separate attorneys to handle the two parts of the case. In addition to the increased expense this obviously imposes, it can present a real problem if the family law attorney and the criminal defense attorney aren't communicating with each other and pursuing a unified strategy.

Eric LaFleur and Jennifer Barnett-LaFleur are both former criminal prosecutors with the Collin County District Attorney's Office. As Assistant D.A.'s, they each tried many domestic violence assault jury trials. And in the years since going into private practice, they have each tried many more of these cases for the defense. Eric and Jennifer each have the experience and ability to handle both the family and criminal elements of a “cross-over” case, saving their clients money and ensuring that both sides of the client's case will be handled in a unified, coherent manner.

If you are dealing with a situation that involves both family law and criminal law issues, please contact us to set up a free consultation so we can discuss it.

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