Queens County Bar Association
Martindale Hubbell - Distinguished 2023

What Are the Penalties for a Domestic Violence Conviction?

Penalties for domestic violence cases range the same as charges outside a domestic violence situation. What happens frequently in domestic violence cases is that a sentence will involve rather extensive therapy programs for only the defendant, not for the complainant. That can last for as long as a year or more. They also involve a full order of protection in many cases that keeps the parties from having any contact with each other, which in many situations can be as damaging as other penalties, particularly when there is a marriage that may be somewhat unsteady. This can serve to put it right over the top.

Can The Prosecution Introduce Prior Incidents In A Pending Domestic Violence Case?

No. Prior incidents cannot be introduced in a domestic violence trial. Generally, a past act is not going to be mentioned at trial unless the defendant testifies in his own behalf, and the defendant now a witness, can be asked about past acts strictly to undermine his credibility. Obviously, that is not what juries are likely to do if they hear that somebody has done the same thing in the past. They are more likely to convict. The court has to do a delicate balancing act when the district attorney wants to introduce evidence of a defendant’s past criminal history involving domestic violence. The court has to determine how to do that in a manner that there is not influence for jury as to anything other than the witnesses’ credibility. In actuality, this is a legal fiction, and juries are always being influenced by a defendant’s poor criminal record. But, if the defendant does not testify, then his record cannot be introduced. Part of the attorney’s job, if the defendant is going to testify, is to limit the amount of cross-examination about his past record, as much as possible.

Regardless of the above, the District Attorney and the Court will be fully aware of a defendant’s prior criminal history, which will be an important consideration in negotiating a reasonable disposition of the case.

What Steps Should I Take If I Am Facing A Domestic Violence Charge?

I have covered these steps in detail at another part of the website, dealing with the events leading up to and the first steps up to, and including the arraignment of the defendant. Briefly stated, the first thing that a person should know is that if a complaint has been made, it is not going to be withdrawn because the complainant changes her mind, and tells the police not to proceed. They are going to proceed no matter what if that complaint has already been made. Most people, including complainants, are totally unaware of this. The next thing that is most important is you must retain an attorney as quickly as possible; the best way to handle the situation is have your attorney talk to the police, and workout a time to surrender. That is most convenient, and will lead to the least time spent in custody.

Most importantly, your attorney will let the police officer know that he cannot question the defendant. That is crucial, because most people wind up saying things that hurt them in their case. A defendant should not try to talk his wife into dropping the charges, because it is not going to work. She cannot drop the charges even though she probably wants to. So do not have any conversations with the complainant about dropping the charges. Leave all that to the attorney. Once you are in court, it is very important that your attorney speak to the court, and make sure that either no bail is set, or the bail is very low. In almost all cases, there will be an order of protection and again, it will be a full order of protection.

One of the most important things that an attorney can do at that point is get the fastest date possible, to get back into court. These are cases you want resolved quickly, to get that order of protection removed. This is in a typical case. There may be other cases where there is no reason to be that concerned about the order of protection, but in a typical family situation, that is crucial. Most of the time, if the attorney does not make a big deal about it, the case will be adjourned for a month or more, during which time the full order of protection will remain in place at least until the next court appearance. If there is one thing that an attorney should know above everything else, it is get the case back in court as early as possible. That constitutes the beginning of the case; everything else is going to take place within the confines of the court.

For more information on Penalties For Domestic Violence Conviction, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (718) 793-5700 today.

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