Domestic violence laws in New York protect individuals from acts of violence, threats, harassment, and intimidation by an intimate partner or family member. These laws provide for legal remedies, such as protection orders, to keep victims safe and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. New York defines domestic violence as any physical, sexual, or psychological abuse committed by a family member, intimate partner, or someone with whom the victim has a child in common. This includes, but is not limited to, acts of physical assault, battery, stalking, harassment, and coercion.
Protection orders, also known as restraining orders, can be obtained by victims of domestic violence to keep the abuser away and prohibit any further contact. The court may also award temporary custody of children to the victim and order the abuser to pay temporary support.
In this article. Eastcoastlaws.com will outline all you need to know about domestic violence laws in New York State.
Defining And Understanding “Domestic” In The Legal Context
In the legal context, “domestic” refers to relationships between individuals who share a close personal or family relationship, such as spouses, former spouses, intimate partners, parents, children, and individuals related by blood or marriage. Domestic relationships are characterized by a history of emotional, physical, or financial interdependence, and they are typically characterized by a high degree of intimacy and trust.
In the context of domestic violence laws, “domestic” relationships are those in which violence, threats, harassment, or intimidation occur between individuals who are or have been in an intimate or family relationship. Domestic violence laws are designed to protect individuals from violence and abuse by someone with whom they have a close personal or family relationship.
It is important to understand the definition of “domestic” in the legal context, as it determines the types of relationships that are covered under domestic violence laws and the legal remedies that are available to victims of domestic violence.
Family Offense Defined
Family Crimes are defined by the State of New York as certain violent and threatening crimes that are committed between individuals who have one of the above relationships. A person who violates a family law may be listed in a restraining order, also known as an order of protection, in addition to being prosecuted criminally.
When committed amongst current or former spouses, parents, and children, or members of the same family or home, the following crimes are regarded as family offenses:
- disorderly conduct
- harassment in the first and second degree
- aggravated harassment in the second degree
- sexual misconduct
- forcible touching
- sexual abuse in the third degree
- sexual abuse in the second degree when the victim is incapable of consent for some reason other than being under the age of 17
- stalking in the first, second, third, and fourth degree
- criminal mischief
- menacing in the second and third degree
- reckless endangerment
- criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation
- strangulation in the first and second degree, and
- assault in the second and third degree and attempted assault.
The following persons are considered “members of the same family or household”:
- persons related by blood or marriage
- current or former spouses
- co-parents of a child, regardless of whether the persons have ever been married or lived together, and
- persons who are in or have been in an intimate relationship, regardless of whether such persons have ever lived together
The nature of the relationship, how frequently the couple interacts, and how long the relationship has lasted may all be taken into account by the court when evaluating whether two persons are engaging in an intimate relationship. The relationship need not be sexual in order to be considered intimate; the court may take other aspects into consideration.
The harshness of sentences for family offense convictions can vary. For instance, first-degree strangling is a Class C felony that carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence and a $5,000 punishment, while third-degree assault carries a maximum one-year imprisonment sentence and a $1,000 fine.
Temporary Orders of Protection
A court may issue a temporary order of protection when someone is accused of committing any offense against their present or former spouse, a family member, a parent or child, or a member of the same household in criminal court. In a family court case, a victim may also submit a petition for an order of protection. Even if the perpetrator has not yet been apprehended, the victim may nonetheless ask for an order of protection. If the court determines that the victim requires an order of protection, the interim order will be issued after considering the petition and speaking with the victim. It is possible to grant a temporary order of protection ex parte, that is, without first informing the offender.
A temporary order of protection may contain provisions that:
- require the defendant to stay away from the home, workplace, or school of the household or family member or any witness designated in the order
- set a child visitation schedule for a parent
- prohibit the defendant from committing criminal offenses against a family or household member or a child
- prohibit the defendant from committing acts that create an unreasonable risk to the health, safety, and welfare of a child or a family or household member
- require the defendant to allow a designated person the right to enter the residence at a specific time to remove personal belongings, and
- prohibit the defendant from harming any pet kept by the victim or a child residing in the household.
Beyond Temporary Orders of Protection
The defendant is given a copy of the petition and order as well as a summons for the hearing after the court grants a temporary order of protection. If there is enough evidence to support a longer-term order of protection, the judge will issue one after hearing testimony from both the victim and the defendant. Unless the court finds that there is an aggravating condition or that the conduct in question breaches an earlier order of protection, in which case the order may be extended for up to five years, an order of protection granted in a family court procedure may be effective for up to two years. Orders of protection may last longer during criminal court procedures. The order of protection will endure for eight years from the date the sentence is entered, or eight years after the sentence has expired if the defendant is found guilty of a felony family violence offense. The length of a protection order based on a felony conviction is either five years or three years from the end of the term, depending on which is longer.
The duration of the order for a Class A misdemeanor is five years from the date of sentencing or three years from the end of a sentence of incarceration, whichever is longer. In the event of a Class A misdemeanor conviction, an order of protection cannot last longer than three years. An order of protection is issued upon a conviction for any offense other than a felony or Class A misdemeanor, and it lasts for either two years from the sentencing date or two years from the end of the prison term, whichever is longer. A sentence handed down as a result of such a conviction cannot last longer than one year.
What You Should Know
Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline or one of the other organizations on this list of resources for crime victims if a family member or other household member is abusing you. However, keep in mind to think about how private your phone, Internet, and computer use are. For instance, some victims may share a computer or other device with the abuser or may have a phone plan that enables the abuser to view the calls the victim makes and receives.
Technology from other fields, such as home security cameras and GPS in mobile devices and automobiles, can also provide abuser surveillance. Use a friend’s device or a computer at the library, or at the very least, delete your search history after conducting research online, to prevent your abuser from finding out that you are looking for help or doing research.
Additionally, under New York’s red flag law, you might be able to obtain an extreme risk protection order if you are not qualified to obtain a protective order but are concerned about the risk of gun violence posed by a person you know.