Suffolk County Domestic Violence Against a Girlfriend

Domestic violence, also referred to as intimate partner violence or relationship abuse, term used to describe crimes where the defendant and the victim are in a dating relationship or were once in a dating relationship. It is also describes situations where the defendant and victim are currently or formerly dating, living together, or have at least one child in common. In the case of domestic violence between couples who are or were dating, girlfriends are often the victims.

Domestic violence can include a variety of different types of criminal offenses, but commonly includes assault, stalking, strangulation, reckless endangerment, and sexual assault. When the police are called due to a domestic disturbance more often than not, the boyfriend is arrested and charged with a domestic violence crime where the girlfriend is the victim. However, the facts are not always as they seem. The consequences of being charged and convicted of a domestic violence criminal offense are serious. You could end up in prison for several years, face steep fines, and have a criminal record for the rest of your life. If you are charged with a domestic violence offense based on an incident involving your girlfriend, contact an experienced Suffolk County Domestic Violence Against a Girlfriend Lawyer who will explain to you your legal rights and vigorously defend you against the criminal charges.

Domestic violence offenses

Under New York you cannot be charged with "domestic violence" as the New York Penal Law does not define a specific crime called "domestic violence." Domestic violence is a term that is used to describe physical and emotional abuse that occurs between people who have an intimate relationship. When the abuse amounts to a criminal act, then the abuser can be arrested and charged with a crime. Criminal offenses that often arise out of domestic disputes include:

  • Harassment
  • Sexual assault
  • Assault
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Stalking
  • Strangulation

Harassment. When a relationship turns bad feelings of anger may persist leading to the crime of harassment. You could face the criminal charge of harassment if you repeatedly engage in conduct that alarms or seriously annoys your girlfriend. Examples of harassing behavior includes following, repeatedly calling or texting, or even physical violence such as shoving or kicking her. N.Y. Pen. Law § 240.25 and 240.26. If you harass your girl friend by phone, email or letter, the prosecutor will charge you with the more serious crime of aggravated harassment. N.Y. Pen. Law § 240.30. For example, in People v. Henderson, 818 N.Y.S.2d 412 (2006), the defendant faced several domestic violence charges, including harassment in the first degree based first repeatedly ringing the doorbell of his former girlfriend and then, when she walked out of her home, glaring at her. The former girlfriend testified that Henderson's action caused her to fear for her life. The case against Henderson was bolstered by the fact that he had physically abused the victim in the past and there was previously an order of protection in place requiring Henderson to stay away from the victim.

Sexual assault. Sexual assault is a frequent type of domestic violence between those who are in a dating relationship or who once dated. There are several different types of sex crimes that are referred to as sexual assault. The most well-known type of sexual assault is rape. You will face this charge if you force another person such as your girlfriend or former girlfriend to have sexual intercourse with you. Force or lack of consent can be based on using physical force or using threats. In addition, if you have sexual intercourse with your girlfriend while she is physically helpless, mentally disabled or mentally incapacitated, you could face a charge of rape. If your girlfriend is a minor and you have sexual intercourse with her, you may face a charge of statutory rape. There are 3 degrees of rape: rape in the first degree, second degree and third degree. Rape in the first degree is the most serious rape charge. It involves having sexual intercourse with someone by physical force or having sexual intercourse with someone who is physically helpless. Rape in the first degree is a Class B felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.35. Rape in the second degree and rape in the third degree also involve having sex with someone without that person's consent, however, for a second degree charge the lack of consent is based on the victim being mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, or because the victim was less than 15. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.30. You will have committed rape in the third degree if the victim's lack of consent was based on the victim being less than 17 years old or for any other reason. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.25.

Assault. You have committed assault if you recklessly or negligently injure another person. It does not matter if you did not intend to injure that person. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.00. There are several different offenses related to assault. If when you assault your girlfriend with the intent to seriously harm her and you do in fact seriously harm her, you will be arrested and charged with assault in the second degree. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.05. For example, in People v. Milczakowskyj, 900 N.Y.S.2d 573 (2010) defendant Michael Milczakowskyj was convicted of assault in the second degree based on punching his girlfriend and breaking two of her ribs. In a second incident Milczakowskyj threw his girlfriend to the ground and further injured her ribs. In other cases of domestic violence assault the defendant uses an object to assault the victim. A weapon is not always an item commonly used as a weapon such as a gun or a knife. It is often an everyday object used to inflict harm. In one case a defendant used his boot to injure his girlfriend. In People v. Roblee, 890 N.Y.S.2d 166 (2009), defendant Thomas Roblee was convicted of assault in the second degree after kicking his girlfriend in the head with the steel-toed boot he was wearing.

Assault in the first degree is similar to assault in the second degree except that the assault was with a dangerous weapon and 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. In other cases of domestic violence the defendant does not necessarily physically harm the victim, but endangers the victim. For example, there have been cases where a defendant fired a gun through a bedroom window or into a crowd of people in an attempt to injure or scare the victim, but did not cause the victim or anyone else physical harm. However, engaging in such behavior may still lead the defendant to facing a criminal charge. Reckless endangerment is defined as engaging in conduct that creates a significant risk of causing another person serious injury. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.20. To be charged with reckless endangerment in the first degree, the prosecutor must show that your actions showed a depraved indifference to human life and posed a risk of death to another person. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.25. For example, firing a gun from a window of a car in the direction of people would likely result in a charge of reckless endangerment. See People v. Clark, 983 N.Y.S.2d 205 (2013).

A less serious reckless endangerment charge is reckless endangerment in the second degree. You will face this charge if you recklessly engage in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person such as a girlfriend. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.20

Stalking. The crime of stalking is one of the most common types of domestic violence. It is also involves behavior that many defendants do not feel is criminal behavior. Stalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct that is likely to cause your girlfriend the fear that you may cause her harm or harm member of her family or a friend or hers. Furthermore, stalking is also defined as a course of conduct that makes your girlfriend fear that she might lose her job such as showing up at her place of employment or telephoning or in some other way communicating with her there. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.45.

Depending on the nature of the stalking conduct you could face a charge of stalking in the fourth degree, third degree, second degree, and first degree. For example, if your stalking conduct involves you committing a sex crime such as rape in the third degree, you will be charged with stalking in the first degree. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.60. 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 one of the most potentially deadly types of domestic violence, and one of the most common. Strangulation involves obstructing the breathing or blood circulation of another person. While there is also a misdemeanor criminal offense called criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, strangulation is a much more serious offense. According to some estimates, well over 50% of victims of domestic violence are victims of strangulation. To face a charge of strangulation in the second degree, when causing the obstruction of the breathing or blood circulation of another person you also cause her to lose consciousness, fall into a stupor, or cause some sort of physical injury. N.Y. Pen. Law § 121.12. 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.

Order of Protection

If you are charged with a domestic violence based on an incident with your girlfriend the prosecutor will typically ask the court to issue an Order of Protection against you in favor of your girlfriend who is the victim. The purpose of an Order of Protection is to ensure that the complaining witness (the victim) remains safe from further violence from you. Typically an Order of Protection will include the following protections and restrictions including that you must:

  • Refrain from contacting the victim
  • Refrain from committing domestic violence crimes against the victim
  • Pay child support if you have children with the victim
  • Pay the victim's medical bills
  • Move out of the residence, if you live with your girlfriend
  • Stay away from the victim's place of work or school

Even if you do feel that an Order of Protection is warranted, while it is in effect you must abide by it. If you violate the terms of an Order of Protection you may be arrested and criminally prosecuted. N.Y. FCT. Law § 846. This means that not only will you still have to face the original criminal charges based on the act of domestic violence, you will also face a criminal charge related to violating the order of protection. In People v. Worthy, 972 N.Y.S.2d 122 (2013), defendant Devine Worthy violated a no-contact Order of Protection issued for the benefit of his girlfriend. Worthy was convicted of criminal contempt in the first degree, a Class E felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 215.51

Punishment for being Convicted of Domestic Violence

If you are ultimately convicted of a crime based on an act of domestic violence against your girlfriend, your punishment will depend on the crime. In most cases, if you are convicted you face the possibility of going to prison for many years.

  • Class B misdemeanor: The maximum possible sentence is 3 months days in jail.
  • Class A misdemeanor: The maximum possible sentence is 1 year in jail.
  • Class E felony: The maximum possible sentence is 4 years in prison.
  • Class D felony: The maximum possible sentence is 7 years in prison.
  • Class C felony: The maximum possible sentence is 15 years in prison.
  • Class B felony: The maximum possible sentence is 25 years in prison.

The amount of time you will be required to spend in prison depends on only the particular criminal offense of which you are convicted, but also on your criminal background. If you have been convicted of a felony within the prior 10 years, you are more likely to be sentenced to at least some prison time.

In addition to being sentenced to time in jail or prison, if you are convicted of a domestic violence offense, your sentence may be just probation, or a combination of incarceration and probation. The length of your probation term depends on whether the crime was a misdemeanor or a felony, and whether or not the crime was a sex crime. If the crime was a misdemeanor the mandatory term of probation will be 3 years; for a felony, 5 years. If the crime was a misdemeanor sex crime the mandatory term of probation will be 6 years; for a felony, 10 years. Prison and probation sentences are served concurrently. This means that if you are sentenced to 4 years in prison and 5 years probation for a felony conviction, you will serve the first 4 years of your probation term while you are in still in prison, leaving you to serve only one year probation after you are released from prison.

While probation is certainly very different from being in jail or in prison, probation does come with several restrictions that may include that:

  • You must not commit a crime
  • You cannot leave the State of New York without permission
  • You must consent to warrantless searches
  • You must not associate with people who you know have criminal records
  • You must not patronize unlawful or disreputable places
  • You must not possess a firearm
  • You must not possess a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia
  • You must refrain from consuming alcohol
  • You must undergo psychiatric treatment
  • You must complete an alcohol or substance abuse program
  • You must stick to a curfew
  • You must have job or attend school
  • You must submit to electronic monitoring
  • You must perform community service
  • You must notify your Probation Officer of a new address
  • You must regularly report to your Probation Officer

Under New York Criminal Procedure Law, if it is suspected that you have violated the terms of your probation, you will be required to appear in court before the judge that originally sentenced you. The court will determine whether to revoke your probation, continue it, or modify the terms of your probation. N.Y. CPL. Law § 410.70

While there are a lot of emotional issues involved in domestic violence, crimes related to domestic violence are largely treated just like any other crime. If you are convicted, your life will be forever changed. You may end up in prison for many years. You may have to pay significant fines. You will have a criminal record. However, there may be defenses to charges that you committed a crime against your girlfriend that could result if the charges against you being dropped or reduced. Or such a defense may lead to an acquittal. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts, including Integrated Domestic Violence Court, who have been accused of 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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