False allegations of domestic violence can have a devastating impact on a family. Once a false allegation is made, law enforcement officers are trained to make an arrest, even if the officer has serious doubts about the truth of the allegation. The officers must often rely on one side of the story without any time to understand the prior difficulties of the parties. Often concerns about a pending divorce or anticipated child custody issue motivate the false allegations.
Domestic Violence Attorney in Queens, NY
Rochelle Berliner is dedicated to fighting for the absolute best resolution of her client's case when an allegation of domestic violence occurs. Rochelle Berliner listens carefully to her client's side of the story and completes a full investigation. When warranted, Rochelle Berliner aggressively pursues motions to suppress and motions to dismiss the criminal charges. As a former prosecutor, Rochelle Berliner understands how the system works and uses that knowledge to provide her clients with the best defense.
Rochelle Berliner has represented men and women charged with domestic violence offenses in Queens, New York, as well as in Brooklyn and Manhattan. She is available to discuss the particular facts of your case with you during a free, confidential consultation so that you can find out what you might need to do today to protect yourself against a false or exaggerated allegation of domestic violence.
The firm works on all types of domestic violence allegations, including child endangerment, which is a hot button political issue that tends to bring about a great deal of subjective observations and judgments by those involved. Due to this, having a competent attorney at your side is vital in finding solutions to this difficult to defend charge.
She also works with those accused of elderly person endangerment, which can arise out of many situations and has the potential to bring with it a difficult legal landscape. This includes the possibility of emotional hearsay and weak evidence used to try and convict.
Included in her areas of practice is also stalking / cyberstalking, which has always been a touchy subject for everyone involved due to the fact that stalking generally occurs between current or former domestic partners. This makes the defense of such a charge a fragile process that requires a criminal defense attorney who can refute the allegations in a effective manner.
False Allegations of Domestic Violence in New York City
Although the public typically imagines the “battered” girlfriend or wife based on the images presented in popular culture, criminal defense attorney Rochelle Berliner understands that the truth is never so simple. Allegations of domestic violence can impact men and women of all professions and from all walks of life.
The impact on professionals, such as doctors, nurses, lawyers, educators, members of the military and law enforcement officers, is particularly serious. An allegation comes with the threat of jail time and a conviction, but often the collateral consequences to a person’s career and good name are equally devestating.
The most immediate impact of a false allegation of abuse is that the accused is forced to leave the residence with a full stay-away Order of Protection, often leaving his/her children behind. When the accused is the breadwinner of the family who also assists in childcare, this arrangement can have a devastating effect on the children. Frequently, the alleged “victim” did not intend this result, but once the spouse, partner or family member is forced to leave the home with that full Order of Protection, there is no going back.
In the best scenario, if the “victim” chooses not to cooperate with the District Attorney’s Office and refuses to sign a “Corroborating Affidavit,” it will take at least 90 days for the case to be dismissed. During that time, the spouse, partner or family member must stay away from the home and children. If the accused wants to have visitation with the children, he/she must seek help from the Family Court.
Domestic Violence and Investigations by the NYPD
Law enforcement officers with he NYPD responds to more than 250,000 domestic violence calls a year. That means, on average, NYPD officers respond to nearly six-hundred calls about allegations of domestic violence each day. For NYPD officers, responding to domestic violence calls for assistance can be dangerous and unpredictable. These officers work under difficult conditions and sometimes make very serious mistakes when they make an arrest.
In New York City, the alleged victims of domestic violence are referred to one of more than three hundred and fifty (350) different domestic violence prevention investigators and officers in precincts throughout NYC. Domestic Violence officers go to the homes of the alleged victims. The domestic violence officers in NYC also provide court referrals, recommend counseling services, and help the alleged victim obtaining domestic violence orders of protection.
Domestic Violence Prosecutions in NYC
It is the District Attorney’s job to prosecute the accused. Without a skilled and passionate attorney to defend the accused, the District Attorney will simply believe the “victim,” and generally will not conduct an independent investigation into the allegations. In most situations, in order to proceed against the accused, the alleged victim must sign a “Corroborating Affidavit,” a document which states that he/she has read the allegations set forth in the Criminal Court Complaint and affirms that the allegations are true.
Since the alleged victim is the only witness to the alleged crimes, the District Attorney often cannot prosecute the case without that Affidavit. The District Attorney tries very hard to get the alleged victim to sign that Affidavit. Sometimes the District Attorney threatens the alleged victim, other times the District Attorney makes it sound like a simple formality. As noted above, if the alleged victim refuses to sign the Affidavit, it takes at least 90 days for the case to be dismissed.
For all of these reasons, if you have been falsely accused of domestic violence you need a skilled attorney to aggressively pursue a defense focused squarely on presenting your side of the events and fighting for an outright dismissal of the charges. In many cases, prosecutors take the allegations in the police reports as the "truth," even when other evidence shows that no incident of domestic violence actually occurred.
New York Domestic Violence Information Center
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The NYC Criminal Courts for Domestic Violence
The Criminal Courts throughout New York City operate various divisions or forums that handle only domestic violence cases (often called "DV court"). The DV Courts are located Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Queens County operates the Domestic Violence Complexes, which include an "all-purpose" section, a "trial" section, and a "compliance" section.
By funneling all of the domestic violence cases into certain divisions, the judges and prosecutors can focus on this one area of the law. The criminal justice system has created a way to process these charges by ordering the person accused to comply with various intrusive demands that are closely monitored by judges, including:
- attending batterer intervention classes;
- attending substance abuse counseling;
- attending mental health counseling; and
- attending parenting skills programs.
Any person who does not comply is sent back to the original judge for "appropriate action." Since the judges and prosecutors are particularly focused on resolving domestic violence cases, you need an attorney equally focused and skilled in fighting these types of cases.
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Domestic Violence Cases in Queens
Prosecutors in the Queens County District Attorney's Office funnel any allegations of domestic violence into a special division called the Domestic Violence Bureau. Prosecutors in that Bureau focus on these types of cases. Many of these cases are also funneled into the Integrated Domestic Violence Part (often called "IDV"). The IDV courtroom was created to allow a judge to hear both the family issues and the criminal issues at the same time.
Even in cases in which the alleged victim decides not to prosecute, the Queens District Attorney's Office may still take an aggressive approach. Although the cases are difficult to prosecute, the best result often cannot be obtained until right before trial when the DA understands that the person accused is willing to take the case to trial to fight for a "not guilty" verdict. For many clients who have been falsely accused, an attempt to plea bargain a case into the batterers programs is not an acceptable way to resolve the case.
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Dual Complaint Situations
Police officers often make difficult decisions when they respond to a domestic violence call and each party alleges being struck by the other party. The dual complaint situation does not require the law enforcement officers to arrest each person. Instead, the officers are taught to identify the "primary physical aggressor." Making such a determination is nearly impossible for the officers at the scene because they rarely have sufficient evidence to make these types of judgment calls. The officers are trained to consider the following factors:
- injuries suffered by each party;
- the threats of past and future harm;
- any history of domestic violence between the parties; and
- self-defense responses.
The officers are also trained that an arrest decision shall not be based on the willingness of a person to testify or cooperate with the prosecution of the crime or the judicial proceeding as provided in the Primary / Dominant Aggressor Law under New York Criminal Procedure Law 140.10(4)(c).
In certain situations, police officers will arrest both parties in a domestic dispute. It later falls on the judges and lawyers to sort out an appropriate resolution, such as a cross dismissal or limited orders of protection to encourage both parties to act peacefully towards one another.
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Types of Domestic Violence Crimes under New York Laws
Under New York Law, the following types of criminal offenses can be charged depending on the facts alleged:
- Aggravated Harassment - 2nd degree, class A misdemeanor under New York Penal Law §240.30;
- Assault - 2nd degree, class D felony under New York Penal Law §120.05;
- Assault - 3rd degree, class A misdemeanor under New York Penal Law §120.00;
- Attempted Assault under Penal Law §110.00/120.00 or §110/120.05 (the “attempt” drops the class D felony to an class E felony, and drops the class A misdemeanor to a class B misdemeanor)
- Criminal Mischief
- Criminal Mischief -1st degree, class B felony under New York Penal Law §145.12;
- Criminal Mischief - 2nd degree, class D felony under New York Penal Law §145.10;
- Criminal Mischief - 3rd degree, class E felony under New York Penal Law §145.05;
- Criminal Mischief - 4th degree, class A misdemeanor under New York Penal Law §145.00;
- Disorderly Conduct - violation under New York Penal Law §240.20;
- Forcible Touching - class A misdemeanor under New York Penal Law §130.52;
- Harassment - 1st degree, class B misdemeanor under New York Penal §240.25;
- Harassment - 2nd degree, violation under New York Penal Law §240.26;
- Menacing - 2nd degree, class A misdemeanor under New York Penal Law §120.14;
- Menacing - 3rd degree, class B misdemeanor under New York Penal Law §120.15;
- Reckless Endangerment
- Reckless Endangerment - 1st degree, class D felony under New York Penal Law §120.25;
- Reckless Endangerment - 2nd degree, class A misdemeanor under New York Penal Law §120.20;
- Sexual Abuse and Misconduct
- Sexual Abuse - 2nd degree, class A misdemeanor under New York Penal Law §130.60(1);
- Sexual Abuse - 3rd degree, class B misdemeanor under New York Penal Law §130.55;
- Sexual Misconduct, class A misdemeanor under New York Penal Law §130.20;
- Stalking - 1st degree, class D felony under New York Penal Law §120.60;
- Stalking - 2nd degree, class E felony under New York Penal Law §120.55;
- Stalking - 3rd degree, class A misdemeanor under New York Penal Law §120.50;
- Stalking - 4th degree, class B misdemeanor under New York Penal Law §120.45;
- Endangering the Welfare of a Child - class A misdemeanor under New York Penal Law §260.10
- Unlawfully Dealing With a Child
- Unlawfully Dealing With a Child - 1st degree, class A misdemeanor under New York Penal Law §260.20;
- Unlawfully Dealing With a Child - 2nd degree, class B misdemeanor under New York Penal Law §260.21;
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New York City Criminal Court Dispute Referral Centers
Complaints Initiated through the NYC Criminal Court's Dispute Referral Centers (CDRCs)
Many people in New York City are surprised to learn that criminal complaints can be initiated through the Court Dispute Referral Centers (CDRCs) in each borough of New York City. The CDRC staff assists people who make an allegation or complaint against another person. The CDRC employees take the complaints and provide options for resolving the dispute.
Types of Court Dispute Referral Center Complaints
The complaints made to the CDRC staff can involve a wide variety of criminal allegations including but not limited to the following:
- larceny; and
- property damage.
Types of Individuals Making Complaints at the Criminal Court's Dispute Referral Centers (CDRCs) in Queens and New York City
Complaints made at New York City's Criminal Court's Dispute Referral Centers can involve allegations in a variety of circumstances. The person making the complaint could be related to the person accused in a variety of ways including:
- family members;
- landlords and tenants;
- merchants; and
CDRC's Referral to Outside Mediation in New York City
Many complaints initiated at the CDRC are referred to other social service agencies and courts. For instance, any complaint that alleges domestic violence, child abuse, or other acts of physical violence is referred to the District Attorney's Office so that a criminal investigation can be initiated.
If the allegations do not warrant immediately criminal proceedings, the CDRC staff may refer appropriate cases for outside mediation in an attempt to resolve the complaints. The mediation process is completely voluntary. During the process, a mediator is selected to act as a neutral third party. The mediator listens to both sides of the complaint and suggests possible solutions to the parties differences.
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NYC Domestic Violence Resources
- Safe Horizons - As the nation's largest victim's services organization, Safe Horizons helps more than 250,000 children and adults in New York each year. In addition to providing resources, Safe Horizons advocates for policy reform under local, state, and federal law. Call 1-800-621-HOPE (4673) for emergency assistance or to learn more.
- Violence Intervention Program, Inc. - The Violence Intervention Program (VIP) is a New York non-profit organization dedicated to ending violence in the lives of women. They provide an emergency hotline, short-term and long-term safe housing options, counseling, and community outreach.
- Women in Need - The Women in Need (WIN) organization is one of the largest providers of shelter and supportive services to homeless families throughout New York City. They have provided a a safe and warm environment for women and their children for over 25 years. Call 212-695-4758 for immediate assistance.
25 Chapel Street, Suite 904
- Center Against Domestic Violence - For over 30 years, the Center Against Domestic Violence has helped lead the fight against domestic violence in New York City and across the nation. The center provides shelters, support, and recreation services for New York domestic violence victims. Their contact information is:
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Queens Domestic Violence Bureau - The Queen District Attorney's Office is responsible for prosecuting misdemeanor and felony cases of domestic violence. The bureau also offers education for police, hospital staff, and community organizations.
- New York City Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence - The mayor's office is dedicated to reducing the barriers faced by domestic violence victims and their families who are in need of help. The office maintains an innovative program that allows domestic violence victims to meet with a prosecutor, speak with an experienced counselor, and apply for housing or financial assistance in their language - all in one visit.
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Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner | Queens Domestic Violence Lawyer
Rochelle Berliner represents men and women in New York City who face charges of domestic violence, whether real, false or exaggerated. With almost two decades spent in the criminal justice field (including 14 years as a prosecutor), she closely understands both aspects of domestic cases. She uses this knowledge to carefully assess your situation and build a strong defense in the effort to eliminate or minimize any charges.
Call (718) 261-5600 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation to go over the details of your case with Rochelle Berliner. The firm proudly represents individuals throughout Queens, NY, who are dealing with various types of criminal charges.
Updated December 7, 2012 by Rochelle S. Berliner