Domestic violence cases are more complex than they may seem. When someone is arrested for a domestic violence case, it can sometimes lead to the filing of Lubbock civil and criminal domestic violence actions. A civil action is an action that the accuser might bring against the accused, alleging that violence has occurred. A criminal action is an action/case that the state presents against the accused. If you have been charged with a family violence offense and want to know more, consult a skilled domestic violence attorney who could build a solid defense for you.
Differences Between Civil Domestic Violence Actions and Criminal Actions
There are two big differences in Lubbock civil and criminal domestic violence actions. One is the burden of proof required. Proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard for a criminal case. This is the highest standard in the legal system. In a civil case, there are lesser standards. The general standard is a preponderance of the evidence, which is very analogous to scale. If the scale tips only slightly in the favor of the plaintiff, then they have proven their case.
Another difference between criminal and civil cases includes the types of punishments involved, specifically fines and jail time. An individual cannot have someone fined by the state or have someone thrown in jail in a civil action. In a civil action, the case is usually about different kinds of relief for the complaining witness, not justice for the charged defendant. And relief for him or herself tends to take the form of either monetary compensation or a specific action being followed through. In domestic violence cases, relief can include issues of contact with the complaining witness.
Withdrawing From a Civil Action
The accuser’s right to withdraw from Lubbock civil and criminal domestic violence actions can be complicated. The accuser, called the plaintiff, can drop charges in a civil action at any time. On the criminal side, the accuser does not have the authority to press or drop charges. That is up to the district attorney. Sometimes in a domestic violence case, the complaining witness will file an affidavit on the prosecution, which has some weight with the district attorney. In some instances, the district attorney will decide to prosecute anyway. In a civil case, the plaintiff can always withdraw from the lawsuit. But in a criminal case, that right is transferred to the state.
Plaintiff Requests in a Civil Case
In a civil case, there are a variety of things that can be asked for. The accuser’s request could involve property rights, based on issues like who owns the property, who gets to keep it, and who gets to do what with it. The second thing that can be asked for is custodial rights, or rights to be in a relationship with family members without restriction. Property rights for land and home and custody-related matters of access to family members or pets are the most commonly disputed elements of civil domestic violence actions.
The Role of the Accuser in a Criminal Action
The accuser more or less becomes the witness in the state’s case and it is now the state of Texas versus this individual instead of accuser versus accused. When the state is accusing somebody, then the range of punishments that they have available to them generally are fines, jail time, or both. The district attorney might also be looking at what is called an affirmative fighting family violence. This designation is like a black mark on someone’s permanent record that follows them around and will serve to enhance certain crimes if they ever get convicted of them in the future. It alerts society that this issue of domestic violence has been a problem for this individual in the past.
Obligation to Participate in a Criminal Case
The accusing individual cannot be forced to participate in a criminal case, but they can call the alleged victim as a witness. The state can also subpoena the accuser as a witness. When someone is subpoenaed, they may be required to show up or be held in contempt of court. However, if the state has to subpoena someone to show up, they may not utilize that individual as a witness. This is due in part to the fact that witnesses who are reluctant on acting as a witness in a criminal investigation tend to be poor witnesses.
Dismissing a Case
The state is looking for justice, and will sometimes cut deals that include things like taking some classes on how to deal with one’s anger, taking classes on family violence, or getting an evaluation from some kind of therapist about what is going on to cause them to behave in such a way. The state is often less lenient once someone is at the trial stage standing before a jury. But in the pre-trial stage, they can try to get someone to agree to do these things in return for a guilty plea, knowing what they are going to get and not risking something worse at trial. The only way for the accuser to no longer be a part of the case is if the case is dismissed. The dismissal of a case is often contingent on terms such as community service, fine payments, or taking special classes. If they look at the offense report and there are some constitutional violations of the accused, cases can be dropped by the state.
If you wish to learn more about how to protect your interests during Lubbock civil and criminal domestic violence actions, consider reaching out to a skilled defense attorney today for legal representation.