Tag Archives: crime

Divorce Court vs. Criminal Court

Sometimes divorcing parties act like criminals, but Divorce Court is NOT Criminal Court (typically).

Divorce court, a.k.a. Chancery Court, is a civil court. The Court’s function is to legally divorce parties that are entitled to be divorced and divide property. The Court has the authority to deal with and punish conduct that is violative of its Orders or disruptive conduct that occurs directly in its presence. Other than those instances it is not a punitive Court. You typically are not punished for marital fault…

Criminal court, which can be Circuit, County, Municipal, or Justice, among others, can punish. These Courts have prosecutors whose job is to prove the accused committed a crime/violated a law. The Judge or a jury determines if the matter was proven and a punishment, including; incarceration, fines, and other remedies.

However, sometimes these can relate or overlap. Conduct that could serve as grounds for divorce, such as domestic violence, is also a crime. The Court’s are independent of one another and you can be punished in Criminal Court and divorced in Chancery Court over the same facts.

Interestingly, your right to plead the fifth, invoking the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution can be done in both Courts. While it cannot be used against you in Criminal Court, it can be used to make an adverse inference in Chancery Court. So, if you are accused of adultery/habitual fornication in Criminal Court, which IS a crime in Mississippi, you may invoke the fifth and the prosecutor must prove a violation of the law by beyond a reasonable doubt, however in Divorce Court, while you may invoke the fifth, the Court can treat that as an adverse inference/admission and could find such to be enough to rise to clear and convincing evidence of adultery. Confused yet?

Divorce Court and Criminal Court are different animals, with different standards and different outcomes. However, all are serious and your rights may be infringed if the Court determines they should be.

Matthew Thompson is a Divorce Court lawyer and encourages those charged with a crime to confer with an experienced Criminal Defense attorney.

Things NOT to tell the Police…

There’s an old joke…”You have the Right to remain silent, but do you have the Ability?”

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While my primary practice area is Family Law, there is some spillover into other areas. Through the years, I have learned there are just some things you do not say to law enforcement.

5.  I did it!

4.  I only had a couple.

3.  Trying to meet your quota?

2.  Oink, oink.

1.  I called you because he stole my marijuana pipe. 

Matthew Thompson is a Family Law attorney in Mississippi and advises you to be respectful of law enforcement a nd not say these things. 

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer Visit the websiteThompson Law Firm  You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at 

(601) 850-8000  or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms


The TRUTH about LIE Detectors.

“I’ll take a lie detector test!” Famous last words.


Lie Detector Tests and their application in Mississippi Law is limited. The tests themselves are deemed generally unreliable by a legal standard and are not admissible in Court, absent mutual agreement or stipulation otherwise. However, law enforcement relies on them when administered properly. Personally, I have seen testing and the results impact several cases.

First off, What is a Polygraph Test? A test which measures and records physiological indicators such as; blood pressure, pulserespiration, and skin conductivity, while the subject is asked and answers a series of questions. Wikipedia.

During the actual test only the test taker and examiner are present. The questions asked are typically only a few and they are asked a number of times, the exact same way. There are no surprise questions, no questions that are not rehearsed, and no Lamp Shades.

The test is measuring your involuntary responses and during the pre-test phase you are instructed to lie about an answer for comparison to involuntary responses during the testing.

Despite their limited Courtroom application, law enforcement agencies routinely administer Polygraph tests to suspects of crimes and the FBI uses polygraph testing regularly for not only suspects and witnesses, but also testing their own personnel, staff and agents.

I have used Polygraph testing in several cases where issues involved abuse allegations.  In one instance a properly administered and passed Polygraph test helped result in a matter being dismissed by the Court and helped end a criminal investigation and rightly so.

As for the tricks on Ocean’s Eleven on to how to beat the test…well, the FBI tests for counter measures.

Matthew Thompson is a Family Law litigation attorney in Mississippi and encourages you not to lie!

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms.

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