Can My Los Angeles Criminal Case Affect my Family Law Case?

A criminal case is heard in criminal court before a criminal Judge. A family law case is heard before a civil judge in family law or civil court. However, the two may still have significant effects on each other. Family code §4320 (m) gives family law Judges the authority to consider any domestic violence and related cases as a factor in determining spousal support.

A party may lose their right to spousal support if the Judge believes there has been domestic violence. There must be documented domestic violence, not just an accusation. In many cases, the judge may also consider arrests. It does not have to be a conviction.

Let’s consider an example. Let’s say that Harry has been arrested and charged under California Penal Code §273.5, Corporal injury on a spouse. Harry and his wife, Wendy got into a fight with one night and Harry pushed Wendy. Wendy ended up falling on the floor and hurting herself. She called the cops and the result was that cops came and arrested Harry charging him with domestic violence. Harry appears before a criminal judge and accepts a plea bargain. He pleads guilty to a disturbing the peace and the charges of domestic violence are dropped against him.

Harry mistakenly believes that because he was not convicted of domestic violence the family law judge cannot deny him any spousal support. The family law judge will not only take into account the arrest, but the facts surrounding the incident as well. If the Judge believes that there was in fact domestic violence, whether proven by the criminal court or not, the Judge may use their discretion and deny spousal support.

Additionally, if you have an extensive criminal record, the Judge may take it into consideration when deciding issues of custody and visitation. A minimal charge will not weigh too much on the issues, however significant charges, and charges or convictions relating to crimes of moral turpitude may cause the Judge to be hesitant.
For example, let’s say Harry has been charged and convicted with Possession of a Controlled Substance. He goes to jail for six months. Several months later he is arrested and charged under the same code section.

A Judge may look at the history of charges and determine that child is not safe in Harry’s care and custody. In that situation with similar facts he may lose his rights with his child.

A criminal charges can not only have a significant impact on your employment and school applications, it could also affect your dissolution proceedings. These are serious consequences and should not be taken lightly. An experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer understands what is at stake and will fight hard to protect your rights. Having your criminal case reduced as soon as possible, or charges avoided completely with the help of a professional could save you a significant amount of hassle in other aspects of your life.