Sex Crimes

A Family Member Committed A Crime Against Me What Are My Options

Edited by Saul Bienenfeld

It is common for us to speak with someone who is the victim of a crime committed by a family member. The victim wants the perpetrator to be held accountable for the crime, but does not want to see the family member face severe punishment such as incarceration.

The concerned person can be a spouse, fiancé(e), sibling, parent, child, cousin or friend of the accused. Regardless of the relationship, the person calls us because he or she cares about the accused, but wants him or her to accept responsibility for a crime. This commonly occurs when there is a recurring pattern of crimes that keep impacting the victim. Many times, drug or alcohol addiction is at issue.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can be invaluable in this situation, because he or she can bolster the wishes of the victim/family member.

How Can An Attorney Help Keep My Loved One Out Of Jail?

A successful criminal defense lawyer is an expert negotiator. In many situations, a defense attorney’s negotiation skills greatly influence the outcome of a case.

When a family member is the victim of a crime, an adept lawyer can use his or her skills to negotiate with the prosecutor to accommodate the desires of the victim. Often, these desires are for the accused to avoid jail time or imprisonment, yet face consequences that are aimed at rehabilitation – not excessive punishment.

Common alternatives to incarceration include:

  • Drug/alcohol treatment programs
  • Routine drug testing
  • Halfway houses
  • Mental health therapy
  • Anger management programs
  • Restraining orders
  • Community service

Some family members are concerned about the impact of a conviction on an accused person’s criminal record. A skilled lawyer will include this as part of the discussion with prosecutors.


What Is The First Step For Getting A Family Member Help?

Ideally, it is best to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney before contacting the police. If a criminal case has already been initiated against your loved one, then the defense attorney has less leverage in negotiating with prosecutors. The criminal defense lawyer can still negotiate with the prosecutor and get positive results, but this situation puts more control in the hands of prosecutors.

And, of course, you should immediately call 911 if the family member is an imminent threat to your safety or another person’s. If you fear the family member is about to seriously harm or kill himself or herself, then you do not have time to contact a criminal defense attorney before calling the police for help.

There may also be time-sensitive situations where you are a victim of theft and it is crucial for you to recover the stolen property before it is sold, destroyed or converted. You may need to get law enforcement involved quickly to recover valuable property, so this is another situation where you may not have the luxury of contacting a criminal defense lawyer before calling the police.

To summarize: If you have been the victim of a crime committed by a family member and there is not imminent danger or an emergency involved and you want your family member to avoid incarceration, then it is best to discuss the situation with a reputable criminal defense attorney before calling the police.

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About the author

Saul Bienenfeld