Westchester County Criminal Defense & Family Law Attorneys
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Domestic Violence Laws

In New York State the laws and policy regarding domestic violence are becoming more complex and requires special attention by the New York Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer. Domestic Violence is a criminal act against a family member, partner and/or boyfriend/girlfriend. Even if the relationship has ended the criminal action may still be considered a "Domestic Violence" case by the prosecution and the Courts.

The most common Domestic Violence charges are:

1. Assault or Attempted Assault
2. Aggravated Harassment
3. Harassment
4. Stalking
5. Endangering the Welfare of a Child
6. Sexual Assault
7. Rape
9. Menacing
10. Criminal Contempt (Violations of Orders of Protection)
11. Criminal Mischief

The Prosecution of a Domestic Violence Case:

In Westchester, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, Rockland and Bronx Counties the District Attorney has special divisions devoted to Domestic Violence cases. Those divisions are usually well staffed with Assistant District Attorney's, police officers and non-attorney aids.

At arraignment the prosecution will routinely as for the Court to issue an Order of Protection in the favor of the complaining witness. Courts will routinely grant the prosecution's request. These Orders of Protection will prohibit an accused from contacting the other party or their children. The accused may also have to stay away from their home. It is very important to have a criminal defense attorney at arraignment to challenge any Order of Protection.

The Court's may require an accused at arraignment (even before any guilty is determined) to enroll in a Domestic Violence Program. These programs can be very time consuming, expensive and may not be necessary for the accused. Again, it is very important to have a criminal defense lawyer with you at arraignment to challenge the Court's requirements.

It is also possible that the Domestic Violence case will be transfered to a special Domestic Violence Court that hears only those types of cases.

While the Domestic Violence case is pending the criminal defense attorney must work quickly to determine the nature of the charge, the evidence against the accused, the type of Orders of Protection in place and any programs ordered by the court to properly defend the case. Contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney with Domestic Violence experience is very important.

Criminal Court and Family Court

A Domestic Violence case can be brought either in Criminal Court or Family Court. The Domestic Violence attorney must have an understanding of both courts to adequately assist in the defense of the matter since the issues usually will involve both courts. For example, if a wife files an assault charge against her husband the husband may not be able to see his children as a result of a criminal court Order of Protection therefore it is necessary to file a petition in Family Court to obtain custody/visitation rights. It makes sense to have the same attorney in both actions to coordinate the defense.

The Defense of False Domestic Violence Claims

Unfortunately, sometimes claims are made against a party that are false. If there is a bad breakup, anger over a fight or even to gain leverage in a custody or divorce action this can be motive for a false Domestic Violence claim. If the claims are false the above process will continue. In these situations the Criminal Defense Domestic Violence lawyer will focus on key claims made by the accuser and any motive to lie. Usually a false complaint is an exaggeration and the claims and can not be supported by the evidence.

Contact a criminal defense domestic violence attorney as soon as possible if you or someone you know is facing a charge. It is important to the defense to act quickly once the case has begun.

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