Protection in Domestic Violence Cases
Help from Our New York Family Offense Lawyers
At Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP our attorneys have decades of experience in Family Court handling countless family offense and custody cases. We will aggressively protect your rights and fight for you. Call our office for a free consultation. Contact our law firm for more information about how our experienced family offense lawyers can help you with your family offense matter. Contact us online or by telephone at (914) 840-5104.
The Family Offense Petition
A family offense petition is a document filed in the New York State Family Court regarding domestic violence. The individual who files the family offense petition is the Petitioner and the party who must respond to the petition is known as the Respondent.
There is a requirement that the Petitioner and the Respondent have a familiar/intimate relationship. This includes the following:
- Persons related by consanguinity or affinity
- Persons legally married
- Divorced persons
- Persons with a child in common
- Persons in an intimate partner relationship
The main purpose of a family offense petition is to obtain an Order of Protection from a Family Court Judge.
Allegations in a Family Offense Petition
In order to draft a legally sufficient petition there must be sufficient allegations that rise legally to the level of a "Family Offense."
These allegations generally include any behavior consisting of the following:
- Disorderly conduct
- Menacing in the second or third degree
- Harassment in the first or second degree
- Reckless endangerment
- Aggravated harassment in the second degree
- Assault in the second or third degree
- Attempted assault
- Criminal mischief
- Sexual misconduct
- Sexual abuse in the second or third degree
- Forcible touching
- Criminal obstruction of breathing or circulation
If the petition is not legally sufficient the Petitioner will not be granted an Order of Protection and the Petition will be dismissed. It is important to have a family law attorney experienced in drafting family offense petitions to either draft or review a family offense petition to make sure the petition is sufficient and will not be dismissed.
A White Plains divorce attorney will also have an opportunity to amend the family offense petition during the Court proceedings if necessary for sufficiency. It is the responsibility of the Petitioner to prosecute the family offense petition in the Family Court. It is the responsibility of the Respondent to defend against the Family Offense Petition.
The Order of Protection
An Order of Protection is a judicial Order that directs an individual to stay away from the protected party, refrain from communicating with the protected party, refrain from committing any criminal acts against the protected party and/or surrender any weapons to the local police department. Some or all of these provisions can be part of an Order of Protection. The Respondent must be properly served with a copy of the Order of Protection to be enforceable.
Violations of the Order of Protection
Any violation of this Order of Protection will result in a violation in the New York Family Court or a violation in the New York Criminal Court.
Settlement of a Family Offense Petition
During the family offense proceedings the Petitioner and Respondent can reach as agreement (settlement) regarding the family offense. A settlement usually results in a determination of fault, duration of an order of protection and the actual terms of the final Order of Protection.
The Trial of a Family Offense Petition
As stated earlier the Petitioner must prosecute the family offense petition. This includes presenting evidence in the form of witnesses, medical records, police reports, photographs, recordings, written statements and/or damaged items. The Petitioner can also apply for a subpoena for relevant information or evidence. The Petitioner must prove the case by a preponderance of the evidence.
The Respondent must defend against the family offense petition in the same manner by presenting evidence to the Family Court.
The Judge's Decision
After a trial on a Family Offense petition the Family Court Judge has the power to do the following:
- Dismiss the petition
- Order a suspended judgment
- Order probation
- Order counseling
- Order restitution
- Issue a final order of protection
Get the Help of a Qualified and Experienced Lawyer
You need an attorney due to the long lasting effects of an Order of Protection (Petitioner and Respondent) and because the family offense petition will have an impact on any custody or child support case.
It is rare that a family offense petition is not accompanied by a custody petition. In addition, an experienced family law attorney can help guide you through the complex process to make sure your rights are protected. One should never walk into a courtroom without an attorney
We offer a Free Initial Legal Consultation for all Family Offense Matters
As part of our commitment to providing excellent legal representation to all of our clients, whether they are a new client, existing client or returning client, our Westchester County family offense lawyers provide free initial legal consultations.