How New York Defines Domestic Violence

When it comes to highly-stigmatized crimes that often result in serious consequences, sex crimes and domestic violence charges are usually the two that come to mind. Domestic violence is a serious problem in some instances, and sadly there are still far too many instances that occur, which means that law enforcement and prosecutors often take accusations of domestic violence extremely seriously. This is reflected by multiple courts having jurisdiction over these issues: domestic violence cases can be brought before both a family and a criminal court.

However, because of this heavy stigma and the propensity for law enforcement to act on the words of a potential victim, it’s not uncommon for unscrupulous individuals to issue false accusations, necessitating a serious and difficult legal matter. If you want to effectively fight back and defend yourself from domestic violence charges, the most important step is to know the law defines a domestic violence crime.

Prerequisites for a “Domestic Violence” Crime

In order for a crime to be considered a “domestic violence” crime in New York, both the victim and the perpetrator must be from the same household. Most commonly, this includes those who are legally married, formerly married, have a child in common, have been in an intimate relationship, are siblings, or a number of other relations, including roommates if two individuals live in the same house. If there is no relationship between two individuals, the crime is not considered domestic violence, and therefore cannot be brought before a family law court.

Types of Domestic Violence Crimes

As stated previously, domestic violence laws encompass several different actions, including some which don’t inflict physical harm on another individual. These actions include

  • Assault: physically harming another individual, including striking them with a fist or other object
  • Menacing: threatening physical harm to another individual, possibly with the use of a weapon or object, for the purpose of intimidation or coercion
  • Stalking: Acting in a way that causes someone to fear mental or physical harm, threaten their safety, or jeopardize their career through initiating contact, telephoning, or visiting them at their place of business, including after they have been asked to stop this conduct
  • Strangulation: restricting someone’s blood flow or airway using either their bare hands or another device to apply pressure to the throat or neck of another, or blocking their nose or mouth

New York law is interesting in that it does not differentiate between domestic violence crimes and regular criminal offenses, so a domestic violence charge would be treated as though it were a regular crime of the same nature.

Defenses to Domestic Violence

Domestic violence cases are complex in that sometimes accusations can be dropped because the action can be justified. For example, parents have on occasion been accused of domestic violence by angry children because they have been disciplined. While family services discourage discipline through force, it is still legal, and non-deadly force meant for discipline isn’t necessarily against the law.

Self-defense is also a common justification that would have a domestic violence crime dismissed. For example, if one member of a household threatens another with a knife, and the threatened member successfully fends off their attacker, causing the attacker to be wounded by the knife in the process, odds are the person who was not injured would not be subject to criminal charges.

When facing domestic violence charges, it’s important to have a strong, experienced, and capable ally on your side who can help you navigate your case. Call the New York criminal defense lawyers at Musa-Obregon & Associates today by dialing 888-502-8431 to request a free case evaluation now!
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