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Intersection of Criminal and Family Law

There are many types of crimes which, when one is accused or convicted of, can have a significant impact on a family. This is true for the accused, the alleged victim, and any children involved. It is moments such as these where one finds the intersection of criminal law and family law.

There are many kinds of crimes which can indirectly affect a family. These include any type of abuse against a spouse that is physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or financial. In Canada some crimes that fit this pattern include such as domestic or partner assault, sexual assault and stalking.

Additionally, crimes that did not directly involve the family such as theft, nonetheless have a significant impact should one of the spouse or spouses be incarcerated for a period of time.

Things to Consider

For the accused, once you have been charged with a crime, many people would be released on bail and on your own recognizance. The Canadian Constitution guarantees the right not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause, and in most cases, especially those revolving around domestic assault, many people are released on their own recognizance how they are being charged with a criminal offence and prior to being tried in a Court or other wised sentenced. Often times when one is released on recognizance, there are undertakings, or recognizance conditions to abide by while one is out on bail. These can include the following conditions:

1. To remain within a certain jurisdiction or geographical area;

2. To notify an officer or Court of any change of address, employment or occupation;

3. To abstain from communicating directly or indirectly with certain individuals;

4. To abstain from attending at certain locations;

5. To abstain from presenting a firearm and to surrender any firearms licences;

6. To abstain from the consumption of alcohol or other intoxicating substances; and

7. To comply with any other condition the officer in charge considers necessary to ensure the safety and security of any complainant or witness.

In a family law context, and especially in cases of domestic violence, recognizance condition is to refrain from communicating directly or indirectly with the accused spouse and or children. This can have a vast impact on any future family law applications. It is important to understand the recognizance conditions and share those with your family law lawyer. Likewise, your family law lawyer should have close communication with any criminal lawyer that you retain. It is important that for example, recognizance conditions be considered when making any family law applications for parenting or support.

In addition to recognizance conditions pursuant to any criminal matter, a victim may obtain a Restraining Order from a family Court. A Restraining Order can be obtained from a family Court if you have a good reason to be afraid for your safety or the safety of your children. Being aware of the recognizance conditions for both the accused and the victim can impact the conditions of a family law Restraining Order, if so obtained. Both of these can have a great impact on any parenting application.

If you have ever been charged with a crime that has a direct impact on a family, for example domestic violence, it is important to contact both a criminal lawyer and a family law lawyer immediately. Ideally, both lawyers should communicate between each other to best formulate a plan going forward. Likewise, if you have been convicted of a crime and are facing incarceration, it is important to contact a family law lawyer to assist you with matters of support or property and parenting. Obviously, one's ability to pay child support is greatly reduced if they are serving time in prison and likewise parenting time will be greatly affected. There are situations for example, where a person who is recently released from a long incarceration will need specialized reunification counselling to reintegrate with his or her children.

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