What to do if the threat of criminal charges is being used to obtain a favorable divorce settlement?

I am going through a divorce, where my ex has filed false criminal charges against me. In a meeting with her attorney today, the attorney stated that if I signed their current settlement, my wife will not testify at trial and will drop the criminal charges against me so I can keep my job. Is this legal? I consider this a form of coercion/extortion/bribery, and completely unethical on the lawyers part.

Asked on September 6, 2011 under Family Law, Massachusetts


Stan Helinski / McKinley Law Group

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Completely innapropriate but happens all the time unfortunately. The divorce lawyer can't get the results his or her client is requesting through competent means so must resort to more effective means.  The reason they do it is because it works.  Ask the lawyer to commit that offer in writing and you will consider it.  

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You are correct that it is illegal and unethical for an attorney to attempt to gain an advantage in a civil case by threatening criminal charges.

You should contact the MA State Bar and file a complaint about this attorney.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.