Survivors with Concurrent Criminal Charges & Civil Protection Cases: Considerations for Community Based Advocates & Civil Advocates

 by Cindene Pezzell, Esq. and Quetita Cavero, Esq. 

Updated 2022


There are many situations in which victims of battering charged with crimes might come into contact with the civil protection order court system. They might: 

  • Seek an order after being arrested and charged, based on what happened to them during that incident 
  • Seek an order based on events that don’t involve the open criminal charges 
  • Have a petition for a civil protection order already pending at the time of arrest for a subsequent incident and/or 
  • Need to respond to an order sought by their abusive partner, either based on the arrest incident or another incident. 

Advocates and civil attorneys must be prepared to help their clients weigh the possible risks and benefits of any intervention. Advocates and civil attorneys who work with victims of intimate partner battering are used to helping them evaluate the pros and cons of seeking a civil protection order and explore ways that an order could possibly increase or compromise safety. 

But when victims seeking assistance also have open criminal charges pending against them, carefully weighing the pros and cons of seeking a protection order is particularly important. When a victim of battering is facing criminal charges, there may be many possible serious negative consequences (such as going to jail or prison) if their criminal case does not get dismissed or does not go well. Given this reality, it is critical to be aware of and minimize the risks that concurrent civil actions might create for victim defendants and their criminal cases whenever possible. 

Intended audience and purpose of this paper 

The information in this paper is intended to assist community-based advocates and civil attorneys who work with survivors, especially those with little or no experience working with victims who have open criminal charges. Please note that this information is designed to provide an overview of some of the key issues raised when victims of battering facing criminal charges are also involved in civil protection order proceedings. Because civil and criminal laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and each victim’s situation is unique, it is critical to do an individualized assessment with each victim who seeks help. 

Download Survivors-Concurrent-Charges-Defense-2022.pdf