Westchester County Domestic Violence Against a Wife

If you hit your wife, follow her, force her to have sex with you, or do anything to make her fear for her safety, you would have committed an act of domestic violence. Not only would have you committed an act of domestic violence, you would have also committed a crime. While a husband, boyfriend or girlfriend are sometimes victims of domestic violence, it is quite common for wives to be victims. Such crimes include assault, rape, stalking, harassment, menacing, and strangulation where the wife suffers a serious injured or is even killed. On the other hand, there are also cases where a husband is accused of abusing his wife when that is not the case. Because the incidence of domestic violence against wives is high and the aftermath can be devastating, the police are quick to arrest and charge husbands accused of domestic violence even if the evidence does not clearly point to the husband. However, there may be defenses and other strategies to fight a criminal charge related to domestic violence. If you are charged with a crime related to domestic violence it is crucial that you immediately contact an experienced Westchester County Domestic Violence Against a Wife Lawyer who understands the law related to domestic violence crimes and who will vigorously defend you against the criminal charges.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is not one particular crime, but is a term that used when certain physically violent or threatening crimes are committed between people who have a family or intimate relationship. Examples of such relationships include people who are married, dating, living together as romantic partners, roommates or family members. Crimes that are associated with domestic violence include disorderly conduct, harassment, sex crimes, stalking, assault, and reckless endangerment. Domestic violence is also referred to as domestic abuse, family violence and intimate partner violence.

Disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct is a common domestic violence charge. In order to face a disorderly conduct charge, the prohibited conduct must occur with the intent to cause a public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm. Such 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 crime, 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. In addition, you will not end up with a criminal record.

Harassment and aggravated harassment. Harassment is behavior that is annoying and alarming to another person. For example, if you hit, push, kick, follow or engage in other conduct that your wife finds to be alarming 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, and you will be charged with aggravated harassment in the second degree. N.Y. Pen. Law § 240.30. This does not mean that you will face a harassment charge for simply contacting your wife via email, or for sending emails that express anger. The letters, phone calls, or emails must be annoying or threatening and must have been sent to her for no legitimate reason.

Sex crimes. While you may find this hard to believe or disagree with it, it is a fact that you can be charged with committing a sex crime against your wife. If you have sex with your wife without her consent, you would have sexually assaulted her. It is a type of domestic violence. There are several different types of sex crimes. The common factor that makes sexual contact a crime is the lack of consent. If you have sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal sex or any other type of sexual contact with your wife without her consent, you could face one of several sexual assault charges. Examples of the sex crime charges that you may face include: sexual misconduct, sexual abuse, and rape.

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. For example, in People v. Hines, 833 N.Y.S.2d 721 (2007) the defendant was charged with assault in the second degree after kicking the victim in the head with steel-toed boots.

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. For example, in the case of People v. Russell, 824 N.Y.S.2d 684 (2006), the defendant was convicted of assault in the first degree because he punched the victim several times, causing her to lose her right eye.

Reckless endangerment. You will face a charge of reckless endangerment if you do something that created a significant risk of causing another person serious 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 another person, that your actions showed a depraved indifference to human life, and that they posed a risk of death to another person. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.25.

Stalking. While stalking can involve following another person, in order to be charged with stalking your wife, there are other behaviors that can amount to stalking. Stalking is defined as engaging in the following activity:

  • Any type of activity that is likely to cause your wife to fear that you may cause her harm or cause harm to another person such as a member of her family or one of her friends.
  • Conduct that causes your wife mental or emotional damage such as following, telephoning or initiating communication in some other way after your wife has told you to stop.
  • Conduct that is likely to cause your wife to fear that she might lose her job such as showing up at her place of employment, telephoning her there, or otherwise initiating communications with her at her job when she has asked you not to do so.

N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.45

Strangulation. Strangulation is a very dangerous act that involves obstructing the breathing or blood circulation of another person. 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. 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 convicted of a crime related to domestic violence, the court may issue an Order of Protection against you placing restrictions on your interactions with the victim. An Order of Protection, commonly referred to as a restraining order, is a legally enforceable court order that is designed to protect someone against the violent or threatening acts of another person. The person whom the Order is designed to protect is referred to as the victim. If an Order of Protection is issued against you it will place limitations on your behavior. In a criminal court proceeding the prosecutor may request that the judge issue an Order of Protection.

An Order of Protection can be full, limited or combination of both. A full Order of Protection will require you to stay away from the victim. The judge will be very specific as to what you can and cannot do. For example, the Order of Protection may require that you stay away from the home, school, business or place of employment of the victims. N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 530.13(1)(a). A full order of Protection is also called a "stay away" Order. A limited Order of Protection requires you to stop certain types of behavior including harassing, intimidating, threatening, or otherwise interfering behavior directed toward the victim or family members of the victim. It may also direct you to refrain from injuring or killing a pet of the victim. N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 530.13(1)(b). This type of Order is also called a "refrain from" Order.

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. Your overall sentence will be more severe if you are convicted of multiple offenses.

  • Class B misdemeanor: Up to 3 months days in jail.
  • Class A misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in jail.
  • Class E felony: Up to 4 years in prison.
  • Class D felony: Up to 7 years in prison.
  • Class C felony: Up to 15 years in prison.
  • Class B felony: Up to 25 years in prison.

For example, in the case of People v. Russell, a jury convicted the defendant of assault in the first degree and assault in the second degree 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.

Facing a charge of assault, sexual assault, stalking, harassment, reckless endangerment or any other crime based on accusations from your wife is emotionally painful. In addition to possibly facing a prison, you may also be facing the breakup of your marriage and the loss of other family connections. In order to effectively defend a case involving domestic violence, 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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