Usually we are representing the person who has been charged with committing the offense. Domestic violence cases usually are conducted in criminal court, although sometimes they are in family court. Ironically, we receive many calls from complainants, usually wives who are concerned because they made a police report and they did not think anything was going to happen. Now their husband or boyfriend has either been arrested, or is about to be arrested for these charges. They find they are dealing with a district attorney who they feel is not responsive to their wishes. Unfortunately, there is not too much that I can do for a complainant, other than to tell her that it is extremely important the husband or boyfriend retain an attorney as quickly as possible. So in reality, we are almost always representing the defendant in these cases.
How Is Domestic Violence Defined in New York?
All of the charges that constitute domestic violence are simply crimes that exist for everybody. They can be assault charges, aggravated harassment, property damage, charges, even theft charges. They must take place within a domestic relationship, which the courts define as people who are in the same immediate family, or have an intimate relationship, married or not, have children together, or have in the past had a domestic or intimate relationship. It is not necessarily spouses, and boyfriends and girlfriends; it can be mothers and children, fathers and children, uncles, anybody who is living within the immediate family environment. Those cases are handled as domestic violence cases, and they generally are handled in very specialized courts.
How Serious Are Domestic Violence Charges?
Domestic Violence charges are the same as any other charges. Obviously, if you are or charged with assaulting anyone, that is serious. If you are charged with a felony assault involving a serious injury, that is a more serious charge, and so on. The fact that it is domestic violence related does not determine the severity. The biggest difference in domestic violence cases is, in addition to all of the other penalties, they have orders of protection that totally disrupt a family. People cannot be together, or even communicate with one other even if they want to.
Is An Order Of Protection Automatically Placed In A Domestic Violence Scenario?
Technically, not all domestic violence defendants receive an order of protection. It is not automatic, but it might as well be. When a person comes before a judge on a domestic violence charge, the Court will invariably issue what is called a Full Order of Protection, meaning there can be no contact of any kind, directly, or indirectly, between both parties. This can make life very difficult for everyone.
Does An Alleged Victim Have To Be Injured For Domestic Violence Charges To Be Made?
No. there are many domestic violence cases that do not involve injuries. For instance, the most commonly found are Criminal Contempt charges, which arise from the violation of an order of protection that was in place, even if issued by a non-criminal court. In other words, a defendant has already appeared in court, the Court ordered that he stay away from the complainant, and then there is some contact between them, however mild, or innocuous, that is still a violation. That will lead to a new arrest on a contempt charge, for violating the order of protection. Many domestic violence cases involve destruction of property, or theft of property from the complainant. There does not have to be injury for it to be a domestic violence charge.
What Is The Role Of Evidence And Witnesses In a Domestic Violence Case?
One of the big differences in typical domestic violence cases is that the complaining witness frequently does not want to testify and in fact refuses to testify. In situations like that, the prosecutor has to make out the charges, and very commonly does, by using other means. For instance, if the person had made a 911 call describing what the defendant had been doing to her that might be admissible in court, even though the complainant refuses to testify. That happens in a remarkably large percentage of cases, because, as I have said before, many if not most complainants do not want to proceed with these cases. It is usually the district attorney pushing the case over the wishes of the complainant, and if he cannot get the witness to testify, then he uses other means to try to secure a conviction.
For more information on Domestic Violence Cases In New York, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (718) 793-5700 today.