Suffolk County Domestic Violence Against a Wife

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 Suffolk 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. In New York such crimes are sometimes referred to as family offenses. A domestic relationship includes those involving spouses, former spouses, those who are dating or used to date, those who have children in common, and those who live together. There are a wide range of crimes that often occur between those who are in domestic relationships such as disorderly conduct, harassment, stalking, menacing and reckless endangerment, and assault.

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.

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.

Assault. Assault is among the most common offenses related to incidents of domestic violence where a wife is the victim. If you intend to injure your wife, or if you recklessly or negligently injure your wife, you will face a charge of assault in the third degree. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.00.

If you assault your wife with the intent to seriously harm her and you do in fact seriously harm her, the charge will be the more serious 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.

Domestic Violence and Orders 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 a Temporary Order of Protection against you in order to ensure that your wife is safe while the criminal case proceeds. A Temporary Order of Protection will generally remain in effect until the next court date. It may then be extended to subsequent court dates until your case is resolved. Depending on how your case is resolved, at the final disposition of your case a Final Order of Protection may be issued that typically lasts for up to 2 years. Under some circumstances, the Order of Protection may last for 5 years.

It is critical that while an Order of Protection 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. Delgaudio, when defendant Arthur Delgaudio struck his wife and held a knife to her face, there was an Order of Protection in place prohibiting Delgaudio from going near his wife. As a result, in addition to being charged with assault in the third degree and menacing in the second degree, Delgaudio was also charged with criminal contempt in the second degree. Criminal contempt in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 215.50

The order of protection may require that you:

  • Not return to your home
  • Stay away from your wife's place of employment or school
  • Refrain from committing a crime
  • Surrender firearms. If you have a firearm license, the license will be suspended
  • Pay temporary child support
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.

Prison

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. If you have a prior felony conviction within the prior 10 years, you will likely be sent to prison for at least a minimum amount of time, while if you have no prior felony convictions, in some cases the judge may have the discretion to not sentence you to any prison time.

Probation

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.

  • Misdemeanor: 3 years
  • Felony: 5 years

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

Fines, Restitution and Fees

In addition to sentencing you to prison, as a part of your sentence the judge may also order you to pay a fine and restitution. Depending on whether you are convicted for a misdemeanor or a felony, the fine could be up to $5,000. Restitution is paid to the victim to cover out-of-pocket expenses that result from the crime. For example, you may be ordered to pay the victim's medical expenses. Generally, the maximum amount of restitution is $10,000 for a misdemeanor and $15,000 for a felony. However, the court may increase the amount to more than $15,000 to cover the amount of the victim's medical expenses. Furthermore, you will also have to pay a fee to the company responsible for collecting the restitution from you.

Furthermore, you will be required to pay certain fees including a "mandatory surcharge" of $175-$300 as well as a victim assistance fee of $25. N.Y. Pen. Law § 60.35. You may also be required to pay probation or post-release supervision fees of $30 per month.

Allegations of domestic violence between a husband and a wife are complex. Domestic violence affects not just the husband and wife, but the entire family. If you are convicted of a crime related to domestic violence you may end up in jail, be placed on probation, and you may have to pay substantial fees, fines and restitution. Furthermore, you may have to follow the restrictions of an Order of Protection. 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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