The State of New York has tough laws concerning domestic violence. This is for good reason, with current statistics showing that 432 individual acts of domestic violence occur daily. Of these attacks, four will be deadly. This prevalence of situations that include domestic violence has created an environment of fear and anxiety for many. Unfortunately, there are also instances where an individual may be wrongfully accused of domestic violence, which has the potential to create major issues regarding their social, professional and financial well-being.
Understanding the domestic violence laws currently being enforced will give you a stronger knowledge of what these crimes entail. It will also allow for a basis of comprehension that could protect you from the stigmatizing status that comes with a domestic violence allegation.
Types of Domestic Violence in New York
Of all the domestic violence laws, four of the most common include assault, menacing, harassment and stalking. All four of these statutes are found within the New York Penal Law:
Assault – A person is guilty of assault if, with the intent to cause physical injury to another person: he or she causes such injury to that person; he or she recklessly causes physical injury to that person; or with criminal negligence, he or she causes physical injury to the other person by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. Assault will commonly be charged as a class A misdemeanor (§120.00).
Menacing – A person will be charged with criminal menacing if he or she intentionally places or attempts to place another person in reasonable fear of physical injury, imminent serious physical injury or death. This is commonly a class B misdemeanor offense. If the menacing is done with the use of a deadly weapon, the allegation will be considered a class A misdemeanor. For individuals who have been previously convicted of menacing within the preceding ten years, they will be charged with a class E felony (§120.15).
Harassment and Aggravated Harassment – Harassment will be charged if a person intentionally and repeatedly harasses another person by following them in or around a public place or by engaging in a course of conduct which places that person in reasonable fear for physical injury (§240.26).
Aggravated harassment occurs when an individual, with the intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person, communicates with them by telephone or written communication in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm; makes phone calls without a legitimate purpose; strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects the person to physical contact or threatens to do the same because of race, color, religion or gender; or commits the crime of harassment after having been convicted in the preceding ten years.
Stalking – A person is guilty of stalking when he or she intentionally engages in conduct directed at a specific person, and knows that this conduct is: likely to cause reasonable fear or material harm to the physical health, safety or property of that person; causes material harm to the mental or emotional health of another, through telephoning or initiating communication or contact with them; or is likely to cause that person to reasonably fear that his or her employment, business or career is threatened through telephoning or initiating communication or contact at that person’s place of business. Stalking charges can vary from class B misdemeanors to class E Felonies.
NYC Domestic Violence Courts
As a way to increase efficiency and organization, the criminal courts located within New York City have specific divisions that focus solely on domestic violence cases. These courts emerged following a response to the frustration victim advocates and judges had about the same litigants going through the justice system repeatedly. Not only does this improve the process, it also takes into account victim safety and defendant accountability. These 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.
The DV court has created a way to process these charges by ordering the person accused to comply with various demands that are closely observed by judges. Some of the primary requirements for those within the domestic violence courts include, among others:
-Attending batterer intervention and/or anger management classes
-Drug and alcohol abuse counseling
-Mental health counseling
-Parenting skills programs
Those who do not comply with their specified requirements will be sent back to the original judge for what is termed, “appropriate action.” These actions will likely be punitive in nature with the possibility of being thrown in jail.
Considering that the judges and prosecutors who alleged offenders face in these special courts are primarily focused on resolving DV cases, it is important to have a New York criminal defense attorney who understands domestic violence laws and can help you navigate the complex legal landscape involved.