When your partner commits a crime, any crime, your life feels like it’s crashing down on your head. Even when you have no awareness of a crime, it’s possible that your partner's criminal wrong-doings could wreak havoc on the family. To ensure you take the right steps to protect yourself, be sure to conduct yourself in the following ways.
We know this is easier said than done, but it’s in your best interest to stay as calm as possible during this time. If possible, give yourself a moment to collect your thoughts, breathe deeply, and think about your next steps with as clear of a mind as possible. We also must stress it’s absolutely okay to cry, feel betrayed, or get angry at what has just occurred.
While your emotions are valid, they can get the best of you. You have to face the fact that the police will likely come to your first with questions about your partner's whereabouts. For example, if the feds are searching for inmates in the state of Ohio, they may ask you to act as a witness for the trial before your spouse has been found.
Before bringing charges, the prosecutors of your partner's case will have evidence of the defendant's crime. However, when it comes to you, there is an assumed guilt by association. This means if you aren’t charged with any crimes, it’s still possible you could receive damage through forfeiture or civil asset seizure, but this depends on the jurisdiction.
The best thing to do in this situation is to divorce your partner to separate yourself legally from them. If you’re common law, sign a separation agreement. This gives you a fighting chance to keep your property during asset seizure.
Do not ever hide your assets because that can land an innocent spouse in trouble with the law. Be aware that your transactions are likely being watched. If possible, hire an attorney.
It's possible that your spouse confides in you about the crime that took place, minimize the damage, or heavily implied criminal intent. Unless you actually helped him commit the crime, you’re still innocent, especially if you didn’t know what occurred at the scene of the crime. When the police ask you questions, never answer without your attorney present.
Depending on how the investigation takes place, the police may tap your phone lines. It’s in your best interest not to speak about your spouse’s case to anyone, not even to your own family during this time. However, you can discuss how you’re coping with the situation.
Waiting for the police to find your partner is the hardest part of the whole process, and there is a likelihood that your partner will try to contact you. If that occurs and your phones are tapped, your partner will be caught and placed under custody.
After your partner is found, you still need to go through the investigation process, which could take up to four years. Use this time to prepare for the outcome by hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. If you have children together, console them during this time.
While waiting for the investigation to finish up will feel like an eternity, you can start rebuilding your life again once it's over. As an innocent party, understand that what has happened to you isn’t your fault and that you’re the victim in this scenario. It may be in your best interest to seek psychiatric help to have an unbiased party listen to what happened and to repair parts of your life that may be difficult to put back together on your own.