Criminal Defense Nyc Domestic Violence Lawyers: A Helpful Guide for the Accused
Domestic violence allegations in New York City can completely turn someone’s life upside down. Even just being accused can mean you abruptly have to find a new home, your relationships fall apart, and you face criminal charges that could result in jail time or a criminal record.
However, domestic violence cases are also some of the toughest for prosecutors to prove. Police and the legal system often act too quickly to label an incident as “domestic violence” without properly investigating both sides. And accusers may also have motives to exaggerate or fabricate allegations, especially during heated divorces or custody battles.
If you’ve been accused of domestic violence in NYC, it’s critical that you talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can advise you of your rights, review the evidence, and start preparing the strongest possible defense to the charges.
This guide will provide an overview of common domestic violence charges in New York City, typical defense strategies, and how an experienced lawyer can help you get the charges reduced or dismissed.
What is Considered Domestic Violence in New York City?
There’s no single “domestic violence” crime in New York. Instead, domestic violence is a legal classification that increases the severity of certain offenses when they occur between intimate partners or family members.
According to New York Social Services Law, domestic violence victims include:
- Anyone over age 16
- Any married person
- Any parent accompanied by their minor child or children
And the crime must involve:
- An act that injures the victim physically or mentally
- Committed by someone who lives in the same household
Some of the most common NY criminal charges labeled as domestic violence include:
- Assault – Causing physical injury to someone intentionally, recklessly, or negligently.
- Harassment – Repeated acts targeting a victim that cause alarm, fear, or emotional harm.
- Stalking – Repeatedly following, threatening, or spying on someone causing fear of injury or death.
- Criminal Contempt – Disobeying a court order, like an order of protection.
- Reckless Endangerment – Acting in a way that creates substantial risk of serious physical injury or death to someone else.
- Rape, Sexual Abuse, or Sexual Misconduct – Forcing or coercing someone into sexual activity without consent.
The specific charges and penalties depend on the circumstances of each case. But domestic violence allegations are always taken very seriously by police and prosecutors in New York City.
Why You Need an Experienced NYC Domestic Violence Lawyer
The consequences of a domestic violence conviction in New York City can be severe. They include:
- Jail time – A misdemeanor domestic violence conviction can result in up to 1 year in jail. Felony charges can lead to years in state prison.
- Criminal record – This can impact your employment, housing, and other opportunities for years to come.
- Order of protection – This court order restricts your ability to contact or go near the accuser. Violating it leads to additional criminal contempt charges.
- Loss of rights – You can lose gun ownership and voting rights. Some professional licenses may also be revoked.
- Immigration issues – Convictions can lead to deportation for non-citizens.
Fortunately, there are often strong defenses available in domestic violence cases that an experienced attorney can use to get charges reduced or dismissed. For example:
Insufficient evidence – Prosecutors have the burden to prove every element of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Skilled NYC defense lawyers know how to scrutinize the evidence and expose doubts.
Biased accusers – Allegations often arise amid heated conflicts and custody disputes. The accuser may have motives to exaggerate or lie. Your attorney can show this bias.
Self-defense – You may have been protecting yourself from an attack by the accuser. Your lawyer can investigate who really started it.
Misidentification – Sometimes the wrong person gets accused or police fail to properly identify the aggressor.
False allegations – People do make up domestic violence claims for revenge, financial motives, or other reasons. But an attorney can expose fabricated allegations.
The best defense attorneys have deep knowledge of domestic violence laws in New York City as well as relationships with prosecutors and judges. Their experience litigating these cases gives them insights into the best strategies and how to get charges reduced or dismissed pre-trial.
If you can’t afford to hire a private NYC domestic violence lawyer, you may qualify for a free public defender. However, public defenders handle a high volume of cases and typically cannot devote as much time and attention to each client.
What to Expect at First Court Appearances
The first court appearances after a domestic violence arrest in NYC are critically important. Here’s a quick overview of what to expect:
Arraignment – This first appearance is typically within 24 hours of arrest. You’ll be formally charged and can enter a “not guilty” plea. The judge may set bail terms or release you without bail.
Order of Protection – The court will likely issue a temporary order of protection barring contact with the accuser. Violating it leads to additional contempt charges.
Discovery – Your lawyer will request evidence from the prosecution, including police reports, witness statements, photos, and more.
Pre-trial conferences – At these informal meetings, your attorney may negotiate with the prosecutor to get charges reduced or dismissed.
Suppression hearings – Your lawyer can argue to suppress evidence, like statements made without Miranda warnings.
The more complex the case, the more court appearances may be needed to litigate pre-trial issues. An experienced attorney’s relationships and familiarity with the courts may help resolve the case sooner.
Common Defense Strategies in Domestic Violence Cases
There are various ways an experienced criminal defense lawyer can fight domestic violence allegations, including:
Contesting the evidence – Many cases hinge on limited physical evidence. Your attorney can scrutinize the proof and expose doubts about what really happened.
Questioning the accuser’s credibility – If there are motives to lie or exaggerate, your lawyer can aggressively question the accuser’s version of events.
Self-defense arguments – Demonstrating you acted in self-defense against an aggressor can justify reasonable use of force.
False or mistaken identity – You may be wrongly accused or mistaken for the true aggressor. An attorney can show police got it wrong.
No criminal intent – The incident may have been an accident or there was no intent to harm the accuser. This can reduce charges.
Getting charges dismissed – In cases with little evidence, charges are sometimes dismissed pre-trial through negotiations between the lawyers.
Plea bargains – A plea to lesser charges like disorderly conduct avoids more serious penalties if conviction seems likely.
Trial – Taking the case to trial and putting the prosecution to their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
An experienced NYC domestic violence lawyer will pursue every avenue to build the strongest possible defense for your specific case.
Finding the Best NYC Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
If you’re facing domestic violence charges in New York City, it’s critical to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. Look for an attorney with:
- Extensive experience defending domestic violence cases in NYC.
- Knowledge of NY domestic violence laws and penalties.
- A track record of success getting charges dismissed or reduced pre-trial.
- Strong relationships with NYC prosecutors, judges, and courts.
- Resources to thoroughly investigate the allegations and build your defense.
- Excellent communication skills and a dedication to keeping you informed.
- Affordable legal fees and payment plans for defendants who cannot afford representation.
- Empathy, compassion, and understanding of the stress you are facing.
- Availability for jail visits and representation at first court appearances.
The consequences of a conviction make it imperative to have the best legal representation you can find. Don’t take chances with your future. Consult with a top NYC domestic violence defense lawyer as soon as possible after an arrest.