The Legal Services Offered By a Domestic Violence Lawyer in Westchester County, NY
Domestic violence is a serious issue that affects many individuals and families across Westchester County, NY. If you or a loved one are facing domestic violence charges or need help obtaining an order of protection, it is crucial to have an experienced domestic violence lawyer on your side. This article will provide an overview of domestic violence laws in New York, the legal services a domestic violence attorney can provide, and tips for finding the right lawyer for your situation.
Understanding Domestic Violence Laws in New York
New York State does not have one specific law defining “domestic violence.” Instead, domestic violence refers to a category of violent crimes committed by one family or household member against another. According to New York Penal Law, domestic violence crimes can include:
- Stalking (NY Penal Law § 120.50)
- Harassment (NY Penal Law § 240.25 & 240.26)
- Menacing (NY Penal Law § 120.13, 120.14 & 120.15)
- Reckless endangerment (NY Penal Law § 120.20)
- Assault (NY Penal Law § 120.00, 120.05 & 120.10)
- Strangulation (NY Penal Law § 121.11, 121.12 & 121.13)
- Rape and sexual assault (NY Penal Law § 130.25 or 130.60)
- Unlawful imprisonment (NY Penal Law § 135.05)
- Aggravated harassment (NY Penal Law § 240.30)
- Criminal contempt (NY Penal Law § 215.50(3))
- Criminal mischief (NY Penal Law § 145.00)
- Homicide (NY Penal Law § 120.50)
In addition to criminal charges, victims of domestic violence can also file a petition in Family Court for an order of protection against their abuser. This is a civil proceeding that does not require criminal charges to be filed.
Services Offered By a Domestic Violence Attorney
Here are some of the key services a domestic violence attorney offers:
Guidance on Plea Agreements
If the evidence against you is overwhelming, your attorney may advise negotiating a plea bargain to reduce the charges and potential penalties. They can leverage their experience and relationships with prosecutors to secure the best possible deal.
Representation at Order of Protection Hearings
Your lawyer can represent you if an alleged victim files a petition for an order of protection against you in Family Court. They will argue against the order being granted or work to ensure fair visitation rights if you have children.
Safety Planning and Advocacy
Beyond legal representation, a compassionate domestic violence lawyer will help craft a personalized safety plan for you and connect you with counseling, housing, financial assistance and other resources.
Child Custody and Divorce
If domestic violence is a factor in your child custody case or divorce, a lawyer experienced with these sensitive cases can advocate effectively for arrangements that maximize safety and fairness.
Finding the Right Domestic Violence Lawyer
Not every lawyer has in-depth experience handling domestic violence cases. When researching attorneys, look for these important qualifications:
- Specialization in domestic violence: Search for lawyers who specifically market themselves as domestic violence attorneys and devote a significant portion of their practice to these cases. They will have the most relevant experience.
- Knowledge of local courts and laws: Opt for an attorney who is intimately familiar with the local judges, prosecutors, laws and procedures in Westchester County. This insider knowledge can make a big difference.
- Comfort level: Domestic violence cases often require sharing sensitive and emotional details. Look for an attorney you feel comfortable opening up to and who shows compassion for your situation.
- Resources and community connections: Seek out a domestic violence lawyer who partners with counselors, shelters and advocacy groups. These connections provide better support for clients.
- Courtroom skills: For criminal defense or contested protection order cases, prioritize lawyers with proven litigation experience and success arguing before local judges.
- Affordable options: Many domestic violence attorneys offer flexible payment plans or accept pro bono cases. Don’t let finances deter you from seeking help—ask about low-bono or free representation if needed.
Going through the court system for a domestic violence case can be intimidating, but the right lawyer makes a huge difference. With an experienced domestic violence attorney guiding you, you don’t have to face this alone. Take your time researching lawyers to find the best one for your specific situation. Prioritize compassion, specialized expertise, courtroom skills and local knowledge. With the proper legal representation, you can move forward with confidence knowing your rights are protected. Help is out there – reach out to a domestic violence lawyer today to discuss your options.