In the state of New York, domestic violence is defined as physical and mental abuse that is designed to undermine the ability of the victim to function. Ultimately, the goal of such violence is to control the victim in mind and in body. In order to accomplish the goal, the abuser will use every means available to undermine the confidence and bring the victim to a state of full subjugation. This includes physical violence, the destruction of the ego, and even denying any degree of access or control to financial resources. Allegations of domestic violence are taken seriously by the state; anyone convicted of this type of offense could face severe consequences.
Who Can Be the Victim of Domestic Violence?
Many people believe that domestic violence can only occur between spouses. That is, one spouse would use violent means to gain control over the other. While many domestic violence cases do involve a married couple, there are other situations in which the crime is also understood to be domestic abuse.
Adults who are related may be involved in this type of situation. Couples who are not legally married but living together or who are involved in an intimate relationship while maintaining separate residences may also obtain protection under current laws.
Domestic violence laws can also apply to abusive situations involving former spouses. Even though the couple is no longer married, an attempt by one party to assault or otherwise direct violent actions at the other would meet the legal definition of a violent abuser.
Gender and orientation do not prevent a person from being a victim. The bottom line is that any person who has a domestic connection with another person could become involved in a toxic relationship that becomes violent.
What Laws Apply with Domestic Violence Cases?
Many of the laws and statutes dealing with domestic violence are found in Section 120 of the New York penal code. Sections 120.00 through 120.12 focus on offenses involving assault. Sections 120.13 through 120.15 have to do with actions that are interpreted as menacing offenses. Sections 120.45 through 120.60 address stalking offenses.
Section 812 of the Family Court Act also includes definitions and provisions that have to do with domestic violence. Much of this section is devoted to carrying out the proceedings for pursuing charges related to various types of domestic violence by utilizing the protocols associated with the family court.
What Sort of Penalties Apply to Domestic Violence Cases?
The type of penalty imposed depends a great deal on the nature of the violent act. Some of the offenses are identified as felonies and carry greater consequences. For example, a conviction of first-degree assault is a violent felony offense. That could lead to anywhere between 5 and 25 years of jail time, with the court determining if the offender will be eligible for parole or not.
In the case of a first-degree strangulation, the convicted party could be sentenced to prison time ranging from 3 ½ years to 15 years. As with first-degree assault, strangulation is also considered a violent felony offense. Along with serving time in prison, the convicted party could face fines of up to $5,000.00.
There are other forms of domestic violence that may not be considered to be first-degree offenses. In those situations, a conviction could result in a shorter prison sentence, a greater opportunity for parole, and possibly a lesser fine. As with many types of laws, provisions do change from time to time. Before making assumptions about what sort of penalties would apply, it pays to consult with a lawyer and learn what could happen under current laws.
Are There Possible Defenses for Domestic Violence?
While there are situations in which the domestic violence is clearly pre-meditated and has occurred over an extended period of time, other incidents occur without any prior history of similar behavior. In the latter cases, it is not unusual for the defendant to cite self-defense as the reason for the actions. This is especially true when the victim believes that the other party is about to use force and cause injury for any reason.
Self-defense can also be cited when a victim has sustained repeated abuse and reaches a point when an opportunity to strike back occurs. In this scenario, the goal is to subdue the abuser and escape the situation before there is the opportunity for more abuse to take place.
Justification is also sometimes cited when force or restraint that is not considered deadly is used for purposes of disciplining children who have not yet reached adulthood.
Mental capacity may also be used as a defense. For example, the violent party may testify that he or she temporarily lost control after discovering that a spouse was unfaithful and acted in a momentary burst of rage.
While many allegations of domestic violence are based on events that actually transpired, there is sometimes more to the story. Instead of assuming there is no way to fight such an allegation, the best approach is to seek the services of a lawyer who knows domestic violence and abuse laws. After investigating the specifics of the situation and evaluating the events in light of current laws and legal precedents, the lawyer will prepare a defense utilizing every legal means of ensuring the client’s rights are protected throughout the trial.
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