Suffolk County Domestic Violence Lawyer

A domestic relationship can be a romantic relationship such as a husband wife or boyfriend and girlfriend. Or a domestic relationship can involve people who share children or people who are roommates. When acts of violence occur between people in such a relationship such violence is commonly termed domestic violence. Examples of types of domestic violence crimes include assault, sexual assault, stalking, harassment, and strangulation. If you are convicted of a domestic violence related crime you could end up in prison for several years. Furthermore, you family relationships would likely be affected in that the court may issue an Order of Protection against you and custody arrangements with your children could be significantly curtailed. Because the potential impact on your life, if you are accused of an offense related to a domestic incident it is critical that you contact an experienced Suffolk County Domestic Violence Lawyer who will listen to the facts of your case and vigorously defend you against the criminal charges.

Definition of Domestic Violence

If you are involved in an act of domestic violence, the charge you will face will depend on the facts of your case. There is no crime in New York Penal Law that is called domestic violence. A crime is called domestic violence based on the relationship between the defendant and the victim. Examples of charges that you might face if you are involved in a domestic dispute include disorderly conduct, harassment, rape and other types of sexual assault, assault, reckless endangerment, stalking, strangulation and murder.

Disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct is one of the most common charges faced by those involved in incidents of domestic violence a common domestic violence charge. Disorderly conduct is the charge you will face if you act in a violent manner towards another person in public. For example, if you have an argument with your spouse in public and the argument gets loud or if physical violence ensues but where there is no physical injury, then one or both you will likely face a charge of disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct is not considered a crime, but a violation. N.Y. Pen. Law § 240.20. A violation is not considered a crime; and if you are convicted your punishment will not include incarceration.

Harassment and aggravated harassment. Harassment and aggravated harassment are also common charges related to domestic violence. Acts of harassment include actions that are quite annoying and inconvenient but do not result in a physical injury or a threat of a physical injury. For example, you would have harassed someone if you strike, shove, kick, follow or engage in some other alarming conduct against another person. N.Y. Pen. Law § 240.25 and 240.26. Aggravated harassment is harassment that involves using a written or electronic means of communication such as a letter or telephone. N.Y. Pen. Law § 240.30.

Sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct is a type of sexual assault. It is defined as engaging in sexual intercourse, oral sex, or anal sex with another person without that person's consent. Under New York law it does not matter if the person accusing you of sexual misconduct is your girlfriend, someone you dated, the mother of your child, or your spouse. If you engaged in such a sex act without the consent of that person, then you have committed an act of domestic violence involving the crime of sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct is a Class A misdemeanor. If you are convicted the maximum sentence that you could face is up to a year in jail. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.20.

The New York sex crimes statute has specific definitions for sexual intercourse, oral sex and anal sex. Sexual intercourse means a penis penetrating a vagina. Oral sex refers to sexual contact between the mouth of one person and penis of another person, the mouth and the anus, or the mouth and the vagina or vulva. Anal sex means contact between the penis and the anus. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.00(1)

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. Sexual contact means both touching the victim's sexual or intimate parts or making the victim touch your sexual or intimate parts. There are three degrees of sexual abuse: sexual abuse in the first degree, second degree or third degree. The charge you will face depends on the basis for the lack of consent. For example, if in an act of domestic violence you used physical force or threats to have sexual contact with your wife or girlfriend, then the charge will be sexual abuse in the first degree, a Class D felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.65.

Rape. Rape involves having sexual intercourse with another person without that person's consent. Lack of consent can be based on exerting physical force against the victim, threatening the victim. Lack of consent can also be based on having sex with someone who is physically helpless or mentally incapacitated.

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. You will face this domestic violence charge if you exert physical force on a member of your household in order to have sex with that person, if the victim was physically helpless, or if the victim was less than 13 years old. Rape in the first degree is a Class B felony. If convicted, you will face up to 25 years in prison. 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 cause physical harm to another person. It does not matter if you did not intend to injure that person. All that is required is that your recklessness or negligence resulted in the physical harm to another person. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.00. If you hit your spouse, girlfriend, roommate, child, or other family member, for example, then you would have committed an act of domestic violence that included assault. There are many ways that you can assault another person. The most common way is by hitting, slapping, punching or kicking another person. Weapons such as guns and knives are also used to commit assaults, as are dangerous instruments.

There are several different offenses related to assault. If when you assault someone you intend to cause serious harm and you in fact do cause serious harm, the charge you will face is assault in the second degree. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.05. This type of assault often involves the use of a deadly weapon such as a gun or a knife.

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 permanent disfigure, or the assault was with depraved indifferent to human life. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.10.

Reckless endangerment. Reckless endangerment is different from assault in that assault involves causing a victim injury, while reckless endangerment involves 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 prosecution must establish that not just that your actions posed a substantial risk of serious injury to another person, but 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

Stalking. When an intimate relationship goes bad, one person involved sometimes stalks the other person. Stalking is following another person or communicating with another person in a way that makes that person fear for his or her safety. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.45. There are 4 stalking offenses: 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 while stalking someone you also intentionally or recklessly caused the victim physical injury, or if you also commit a sex crime against the person you stalked. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.60.

Stalking in the fourth and third degrees are misdemeanors, with penalties of up to one year in jail. Stalking in the second degree is a Class E felony with a possible sentence of up to 4 years in prison, while stalking in the first degree is a Class D felony with a possible sentence of up to 7 years in prison.

Strangulation. Strangulation is obstructing the breathing or blood circulation of another person. In cases of domestic violence strangulation can occur with the hands around the neck, by covering someone's nose, by stuffing something into the mouth, or by wrapping an object around the neck. 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 that person to lose consciousness, fall into a stupor, or cause a 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.

Murder. In the most severe cases of domestic violence, the victim is murdered. Murder in the second degree is the charge you will face if you cause the death of your spouse, significant other, roommate or someone else in your household while you were under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance. N.Y. Pen. Law § 125.25. Murder in the first degree involves intentionally causing the death of another person. N.Y. Pen. Law § 125.27

Punishment for committing a domestic violence crime

If you are arrested and charged with a crime where the victim is involved in domestic relationship with you, once of the preliminary actions of the court will be to issue a order for protection. An order of protection is issued in order keep victims of violence, abuse, harassment, or threats safe from harm or further harm. To keep the victim safe the judge has the power to grant a variety of different types of protections and restrictions. For example, the order may require you to refrain from communicating with the victim via telephone, mail, or electronically, refrain from injuring your pets, pay child support, pay expenses related to your hospitalizations that were the result of his or her abuse, move out of the residence, and to surrender any guns he or she may possess. N.Y. FCT. Law § 842; N.Y. FCT. Law § 842-A

If you are ultimately convicted of a crime based on a domestic relationship, your punishment may range from probation up to life in prison. It depends on the charge. One of the least severe domestic violence offenses is disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct is classified as a violation. This means that if you are convicted the maximum possible sentence that you will have is 15 days in jail and a fine of up to $250. However, the vast majority of crimes related to domestic violence are either misdemeanors or felonies. 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.
  • Class A-II felony: The maximum possible sentence is life in prison.
  • Class A-I felony: The maximum possible sentence is life in prison.

You actual sentence will depend on a number of factors, the most of important of which is your criminal history. If you have been convicted of a felony within the past 10 years you will be considered to have a prior felony conviction. This means that in the case of most felony domestic violence crimes the judge will be required to send you to prison for a list a minimum term. If you were convicted of a violent felony within the prior 10 years, you will face even more prison time if you are convicted of a felony related to domestic violence.

Furthermore, there are several financial consequences to be convicted of a domestic violence crime. Your sentence may also include the payment of a fine of up at least $500. Plus, you will have to pay several fees, such as a mandatory surcharge of $175 for a misdemeanor or $300 for a felony, as well as a victim assistance fee of $25. N.Y. Pen. Law § 60.35. As part of your sentence you may be ordered to pay restitution to your victim of up to $10,000 for a misdemeanor and up to $15,000 for a felony. If you do not pay a fine, fee or restitution, you may be charged with a misdemeanor and sent to prison for up to a year, your wages may be garnished or the state of New York may obtain a judgment against you.

In addition to possible jail or prison term, probation and fine, if you are convicted of a domestic violence related crime, if the crime is a sex offense, you will also be required to register as a sex offender. This means that upon conviction, you will have to register certain information with a designated law enforcement agency. N.Y. Cor. Law § 168. You will have to register for at least 20 years. In some cases, you will be required to remain on the sex offender registry for the rest of your life. As a registered sex offender several restrictions will be placed on you. For example, you will not be able to move out of New York state without informing the New York Department of Criminal Justice Services. If you do move, you must let the local law enforcement that you have moved to that jurisdiction, and you must follow that jurisdiction's sex offender registration rules. Even if you do not leave New York, you will have to keep the Department of Criminal Justice Services informed of your address. Some sex offenders will have to verify their address to the police every 90 days. You will also have to report to the local police and have your photograph taken every three years. You may have to let the police know the name and address of your employer, and the name of the school you are attending. 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 handled by a special court called the Integrated Domestic Violence Court (IDV). To be eligible for IDV court, the parties involved must have a criminal domestic violence case as well as a family court case or a matrimonial case. While all cases will be adjudicated separately, a single judge will oversee all cases to ensure that the outcomes are coordinated and not inconsistent.

Whether the charge is assault, rape, harassment, or stalking, the consequence of being convicted of any crime against someone with whom you have a domestic relationship is you will likely end up incarcerated for an extended period of time. You also may have to pay substantial fines, fees and restitution. Furthermore, an Order of Protection may be issued against you, making several aspects of your life more challenging. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts including those accused of acts of domestic violence involving stalking, reckless endangerment, rape, assault, sexual assault, strangulation 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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