New York State law defines family offenses / domestic violence as the commission of certain violent and threatening crimes between people who share one of the specified relationships (current or ex-spouses, parent and child, or members of the same family or household). In addition to criminal prosecution, a person who commits domestic violence may be named in a restraining order, otherwise known as an order of protection.
- When is the best time to act?:
Anyone charged with a domestic violence-related crime should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away, as mere allegations can be enough to compromise a person’s reputation, employment, and personal relationships. Even worse, conviction of a crime related to domestic violence can result in jail time, fines, probation, or an order to attend counseling or anger management classes.
- State Penalties for Domestic Violence:
Sentences for conviction of a domestic violence offense can vary in severity, depending on the crime or violation. For example, third-degree stalking is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a year’s imprisonment and three years’ probation, while conviction for first-degree assault, which is a violent felony offense, can impose a sentence of 5 -25 years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000.
- Related Crimes:
Assault, Harassment, Aggravated Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Forcible Touching, Sexual Abuse, Stalking, Criminal Mischief, Menacing, Reckless Endangerment, Strangulation, Attempted Murder, Murder
- Difference between New York State and Federal statutes:
Historically, the federal government has lacked jurisdiction over most domestic violence crimes. But the Violence Against Women Act and the Gun Control Act provide empower the federal government to prosecute in certain situations involving firearms or interstate travel or activity. It is a federal crime for a person to travel interstate to commit an act of domestic violence or stalk another person. A person is also liable to be prosecuted at the federal level if they force or coerce an intimate partner to cross state lines and end up committing an act of bodily harm upon them. When an order of protection has been imposed, it is a federal crime to cross state lines with intent to violate the order or persuade someone to travel to another state with the end result being a violation of the order. Penalties hinge on the extent of the bodily injury to the victim. Terms of imprisonment range from 5 years to life if the crime results in the victim's death. Those convicted of a domestic violence-related offense are prohibited from owning firearms. The maximum term of imprisonment for a violation is 10 years.
- Successful Defenses:
Photo, video, or witness statement proof that there was no assault or that the defendant could not have committed the assault, and mental disease / defect are acceptable defenses.
- High profile/government cases:
On November 28, 2011, Jesus Alejandro, 22, was sentenced to 23 years to life in prison after being convicted of one count of murder in the second degree. On April 27, 2008, the defendant stabbed his girlfriend, Christina Hernandez, 25, 26 times with a knife in her apartment at 234 East 119th Street.