Nassau County Domestic Violence Against a Wife

While a crime can be committed against anyone, if the victim of certain criminal offenses is the wife of the defendant, then the crime is also an act of domestic violence. Domestic violence is a term used to describe crimes where the defendant and the victim are in a domestic relationship such as being spouses, dating or being roommates. Because the incidence of domestic violence against wives is so high and when wives are victims children are often also at risk, law enforcement is quick to arrest and charge husbands accused of domestic violence. Crimes related to domestic violence range from relatively minor offenses such as disorderly conduct and harassment to quite serious offenses such as stalking, sexual assault and assault. If you are convicted of a domestic violence crime you could end up in prison for years, paying a steep fine, and having a criminal record for the rest of your life. Thus, if you are charged with a domestic violence offense based on an incident involving your wife, contact an experienced Nassau County Domestic Violence Against a Wife Lawyer who will explain your legal rights and vigorously defend you against the criminal charges.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is not one particular crime, but is a term that used to describe certain types of criminal offenses where the defendant and the victim have a domestic relationship. A domestic relationship can be based on being married, dating, living together as romantic partners, roommates or family members. Such crimes include such offenses such as sex crimes, harassment, stalking, assault, and child endangerment. Specific criminal offenses that commonly result from domestic disputes include disorderly conduct, harassment, aggravated harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual abuse, rape, assault, reckless endangerment, stalking, strangulation, and murder.

Disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct is a common domestic violence charge. Unlike other types of domestic violence to face a disorderly conduct charge, the prohibited conduct must occur with the intent to cause a public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm. The prohibited conduct includes fighting and other violent behavior, making unreasonably loud noise, engaging in threatening behavior, using obscene or abusive language. N.Y. Pen. Law § 240.20. Disorderly conduct is not a misdemeanor or felony, but a violation. This means that if charged with and convicted of disorderly conduct, you will not go to prison, but will be required to pay a fine.

Harassment. The legal definition of criminal harassment is similar to the common, dictionary definition. It is behavior that is annoying and alarming to another person. For example, if you hit, push, kick, follow or engage in other alarming conduct against your wife, you could face a harassment in the first or second degree charge. N.Y. Pen. Law § 240.25 and 240.26. Your actions will be considered more serious and dangerous if you harass your wife by means of a letter, phone, or email. The charge will be aggravated harassment in the second degree. N.Y. Pen. Law § 240.30. A common way that such harassment is accomplished is through texting or email. However, for an aggravated harassment in the second degree charge to stick based on making unwanted telephone calls, you would have to make the calls for no legitimate reason.

Sexual assault. If you have sexual contact with your wife, you could be charged with a sex crime. Sexual assault involves having sex with another person without that person's consent. Under New York law there are several different types of sex crimes that are types of sexual assault. The particular charge you will face depends primarily on the type of sex act. For example, you will be charged with sexual misconduct if you engage in sexual intercourse, oral sex, or anal sex with another person without that person's consent. Sexual misconduct is a Class A misdemeanor. If you are convicted of sexual misconduct the maximum sentence that you could face is up to a year in jail. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.20. If you did not have sexual intercourse with the your wife, but touched her sexual or intimate parts without her consent, the charge you will face is sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is defined as having sexual contact with another person without that person's consent. Sexual contact is touching of the sexual or intimate parts for sexual gratification. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.00(3). Sexual or intimate parts refer to the vagina, penis, anus, rectum, buttocks, breasts, lips and mouth. To face this charge, the law does not require penetration; touching is enough. There are three degrees of sexual abuse: sexual abuse in the first degree, second degree and third degree. The most serious sexual abuse offense is sexual abuse in the first degree. If you had sexual contact with your wife by force or while she was physically helpless, this is the charge you may face. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.65.

Rape is another type of sexual assault that is associated with domestic violence against a wife. Rape is defined by New York law as having sexual intercourse with another person without that person's consent. For example if you use physical force to have sexual intercourse with your wife, you could face a rape charge. If you threaten your wife or another person in order to make your wife have sexual intercourse with you, you could be charged with rape. Furthermore, rape is also defined as having sexual intercourse with someone who is physically helpless, mentally disabled or mentally incapacitated. Depending on the circumstances of the rape, there are different rape charges you may face for having sex with your wife without her consent.

Assault. Assault is among the most common offenses related to incidents of domestic violence. If you recklessly or negligently injure your wife, you would have assaulted her. It does not matter if you did not intend to hurt her. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.00. There are several different offenses related to assault. For example, if you assault your wife with the intent to seriously harm her and you do in fact seriously harm her, you will face a charge of assault in the second degree. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.05. While this type of assault often involves the use of a deadly weapon such as a gun or a knife, the "weapon" can be almost anything that can cause someone harm. You will face an assault in the first degree charge if you used a dangerous weapon and you also caused the victim a serious injury, the intent of the assault was to permanently disfigure, or the assault was with depraved indifferent to human life. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.10.

Reckless endangerment. Reckless endangerment is a common charge in cases of domestic violence where the victim was placed in danger of being harmed, but did not actually suffer a physical injury. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.20. To support a reckless endangerment in the first degree charge the prosecution must show that your actions posed a substantial risk of serious injury to your wife, for example, or that your actions showed a depraved indifference to human life. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.25. For example, in People v. Clark, 983 N.Y.S.2d 205 (2013), the defendant faced a reckless endangerment charge based on firing a gun from the window of car.

Stalking. Following, calling, texting, or tracking your wife or former wife in a way that causes her to fear that you may cause her harm or harm to another person is a crime. It is stalking. Similarly, showing up at her place of work or communicating with her at work such that she fears that she may lose her job is also the crime of stalking. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.45. There are 4 different stalking crimes: stalking in the fourth degree, third degree, second degree, and first degree. The most serious stalking offense is stalking in the first degree. You will face this charge if you engage in any type of stalking activity that causes injury to your wife, or if while in the course of stalking your wife you also commit one of the following sex offenses: rape in the third degree, rape in the second degree, criminal sexual act in the third degree, criminal sexual act in the second degree, or female genital mutilation. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.60 (2).

Stalking in the fourth and third degrees are misdemeanors. Stalking in the second degree is a Class E felony, while stalking in the first degree is a Class D felony.

Strangulation. Strangulation is a very dangerous type of domestic violence that can lead to a serious physical injury or even death. The legal definition of strangulation is an act that obstructs the breathing or blood circulation of another person. This could mean squeezing someone's neck with your hands or with an object such as a belt. Strangulation can also be accomplished by covering someone's mouth or nose so that they are unable to breathe. To face a charge of strangulation in the second degree, while strangling the victim you also cause her to lose consciousness, fall into a stupor, or cause a physical injury. N.Y. Pen. Law § 121.12. For example, in People v. Fairman, 957 N.Y.S.2d 265 (2012), the defendant was charged with strangulation in the second degree based on twisting a shirt around the neck of his victim to the point where she was unable to breathe and experienced blurry vision. A strangulation charge will be raised to the more serious charge of strangulation in the first degree if the victim suffers serious injury. N.Y. Pen. Law § 121.13.

Murder. Domestic violence against a wife sometimes becomes so severe that it is deadly. In the most severe cases of domestic violence against wives, the victim is murdered. Murder in the second degree is the charge you will face if you cause the death of your wife or any other person while you were under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance. N.Y. Pen. Law § 125.25. An extreme emotional disturbance amounts to experiencing a mental infirmity based on the circumstances that you are under that causes you to lose control. Murder in the first degree involves intentionally causing the death of another person. N.Y. Pen. Law § 125.27

What is an Order of Protection?

One of the first things that will happen if you are accused domestic violence against your wife is that the criminal court judge will issue an Order of Protection against you in order to ensure that your wife is safe while the criminal case proceeds. The initial granting of an Order of Protection does not necessarily mean that a permanent Order of Protection is justified and will be granted. Nor does it mean that you will necessarily be convicted of a domestic violence crime. However, while it is in place you must abide by it. If you violate an Order of Protection you could be charged with criminal contempt. N.Y. FCT. LAW § 846. For example, in the case of People v. Worthy, 972 N.Y.S.2d 122 (2013), defendant Devine Worthy violated a no-contact Order of Protection and was subsequently convicted of criminal contempt in the first degree, a Class E felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 215.51

The order of protection may require that you:

  • Not contact your wife. If you and your wife live together, you will have to move out of the residence you share.
  • Not contact your children. It may also require that you stay away from the children you share with your wife, particularly if there are also allegations that you abused your children
  • Pay child support and other bills. Even though you will not be permitted to see your children or live in your home, you will be required to financially support your children as well as pay at least a portion of the household bills. In addition, if your wife incurred medical expenses as a result of the domestic violence, you may be ordered to pay those expenses as well.
Punishment for conviction

A conviction for a crime related to domestic violence can result in a sentence of a fine, probation, jail, or prison. The sentence that you receive depends on a number of factors including whether the crime is a misdemeanor or a felony and whether you have a prior criminal record. In addition, domestic violence defendants commonly face more than one criminal charge.

The possible prison sentences range from up to 3 months for a Class B misdemeanor to up to 25 years in prison for a Class B felony. While for a misdemeanor and Class E or D felony convictions it is possible that your sentence will include not jail or prison time, if you have

Your overall sentence will be more severe if you are convicted of multiple offenses. For example, in the case of People v. Russell, a jury convicted the defendant of assault in the first and second degree assault based on a domestic violence incident. Because the defendant was a persistent violent felony offender, he was sentenced to two concurrent terms of 20 years to life in prison.

In addition to being sentenced to time in jail or prison or instead of being sentenced to jail or prison, your sentence may include probation. The length of your probation term depends on whether the crime was a misdemeanor or a felony. If the crime was a sex offense, then the probation term will be twice as long as it otherwise would be.

  • Misdemeanor: 3 years
  • Felony: 5 years
  • Misdemeanor sex offense: 6 years
  • Felony sex offense: 10 years

Prison and probation sentences are served concurrently. This means that if you are sentenced to 3 years in prison and 5 years probation for a felony conviction, you will serve the first 3 years of your probation term while you are in still in prison, leaving you to serve 2 years probation after you are released from prison.

If you are placed on probation, there will be many rules that you will be required to follow or risk being sent to prison. The rules will include that you must not commit a crime, must not associate with people with criminal backgrounds, must not go to disreputable places, must not drink alcohol excessively, must not use illegal drugs, must have a job, and you must support your family. You will also be required to regularly report to your probation officer. Under New York Criminal Procedure Law, if your probation officer suspects that you have violated the terms of your probation, you will be summoned to court. The judge will determine whether to revoke your probation, continue it, or modify the terms of your probation. N.Y. CPL. Law § 410.70

If you are convicted of a sex offense such as rape or sexual abuse, you will be required to register as a sex offender under the New York Sex Offender Registration Act. Such registration means that you must supply certain personal information and information related to your crime to law enforcement which will be added to a sex offender database. N.Y. Cor. Law § 168. Such information includes your name, aliases, date of birth, sex, race, height, weight, eye color, home address, internet screen names and email addresses. If you are a student you will have to provide its name and address. In addition, you will have to be regularly photographed. If you do not follow these rules, you can be arrested and charged with a Class D felony that could result in jail or prison time.

Domestic violence court

When you are involved in a domestic violence crime, your case may be transferred to a special court called the Integrated Domestic Violence Court (IDV). To be eligible for IDV court, in addition to the criminal domestic violence case, you and your wife must also have a family court case or a matrimonial case. While each case will be handled separately, the same judge will oversee all cases to makes sure that the outcomes are not inconsistent.

In addition, IDV cases have staff members assigned to them to ensure that victims have easy access to victim assistance services, to facilitate family counseling and to ensure intensive defendant monitoring. Thus, if your case is transferred to IDV and as part of your sentence you are placed on probation, the court will designate someone to work closely with you and the IDV to oversee compliance with the terms of your probation.

Accusations of violence between a husband and wife are complex, often involving complicated emotional and family issues. In order to resolve such cases it is necessary to understand both the fine details of criminal law as well as the sensitive issues involved in family conflicts. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with crimes related to domestic violence such as stalking, reckless endangerment, rape, assault, strangulation, child endangerment and murder. Contact us at 1.800.NY.NY.LAW (1.800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of domestic violence in the following locations:

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