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WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE MULTIPLE CASES?

CRIMINAL CHARGES

Many people often wonder if they can face criminal prosecution for the same allegations or events that their PFA or PFS action is based on. The answer is quite simple: yes, you can.  

A PFA or PFS is a civil action that one person (the plaintiff) files in order to get a protective or restraining order against another person (the defendant). Criminal charges are filed by the State of Kansas through the local prosecuting agency (either a city prosecutor’s office or the county/district attorney’s office.) It is not uncommon that a person who has been served with paperwork for a PFA or PFS to also face criminal charges for the same allegations and events.  

If you have already been arrested or received notice of criminal charges you absolutely should contact an attorney about your PFA or PFS. Many criminal defense attorneys will not represent you on your PFA or PFS, even if the events are related. But that does not mean the PFA or PFS is any less important or less complicated of a proceeding. It is still a legal proceeding where rules of evidence and court procedures apply. It can also have an impact on your criminal case. If you don’t know what you’re doing, that impact can be to your detriment. Therefore, you should make sure to have counsel for both matters and make sure those attorneys are working together to your benefit.

Many times, somebody will call us and tell us they have not been contacted by the police or that charges have not been filed yet. This leaves these individuals with a false sense that no charges will be filed. It is common that criminal charges will be filed after a PFA or PFA is filed. This is simply because the process of investigating a potential crime, creating reports, and sending it to the prosecutor for review and charging is a longer and more complicated process than filing for a PFA or PFS. Therefore, even if no charges have been filed yet, it is always something you need to be aware is a possibility.  

Because there is a possibility that criminal charges could be filed, individuals should not charge in to court to immediately defend themselves in the PFA or PFS case without consulting an attorney. Doing so creates a record that can be used against you in your criminal case. Thus, if you’ve been served with papers you should contact an attorney immediately and consult with them about the possibility of criminal charges and seek advise on how to proceed.

FAMILY LAW ISSUES

It is also common for a PFA or PFS case to come up between parties going through a divorce or other family law case. Or perhaps, the events that caused a party to file a PFS or PFA in the first place also triggered a divorce or separation. Either way, the same parties may have an ongoing family law case. This could include a divorce, paternity, custody, or child support action. If you find yourself in a situation where you have both a PFA/PFS case and family law matter with the same party, it can be complicated.  

Johnson County has a local rule where the judge overseeing your family law case will also take up your PFA/PFS in most situations. However, that does not mean that your cases are combined. You still need to deal with the PFA/PFS and it is still handled according to those specific rules. That means that unlike in a family law case where a judge may decide an issue based on “the best interest of the child,” the judge will still make his or her final ruling on a PFA or PFS case based on whether the plaintiff met his or her burden of proof.  

In order to make sure you know all of these rules, the burdens that must be met, and the complications that can arise with two pending cases, it is always advisable to contact an attorney. Luckily, our office handles both family law and PFA/PFS cases. If you need help with either or both matters, call our office today.

CONCLUSION

If you are an individual who finds yourself with a PFA/PFS case, a family law case, and criminal charges, the need for an attorney cannot be understated. Call us immediately and we can talk to you for your options. Our team is set up to handle each of your cases.  Having all of your matters handled by the same team assures you that no case will move forward to the detriment of another and that you are fully aware of all possibilities and potential consequences before proceeding. Call us today for more information and to begin this process.