Committing domestic or family violence is illegal in New York. There are many legal procedures intended to stop violence and courts play a significant role in this process.
The state’s family law defines domestic violence as abusive behavior occurring between family members or intimate partners. An intimate partner may be a current or former spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, your child’s parent, or a partner that you live with now or in the past. Domestic violence may involve physical, sexual, psychological, or economic abuse.
After arrest, the alleged abuser must appear before a judge at an arraignment. This case is not brough behalf of the victim but on behalf of the People of the state of New York who is represented by an assistant district attorney.
Arraignment is usually held within 24 hours of arrest. An arraignment judge may set bail, hold the alleged abuser in prison without bail or release the accused abuser who must return to court in the future. An abuser may be released any time after arraignment.
Order of protection
The assistant district may ask the judge to issue an order of protection at the arraignment. This is a court order that restricts the alleged abuse from engaging in conduct such as harassing, threatening, assaulting, or stalking the abuse victim. These orders may also prohibit the accused abuser to refrain from having any contact with the abuser.
A person who violates an order of protection may be re-arrested.
An order of protect, however, cannot guarantee safety. Victims should develop a safety plan and consider options such as:
- finding domestic violence shelters
- relocation for senior victims
- participating in individual or group counseling
- seeking assistance from government agencies and non-profit groups that have experience with family court or immigration issues
- submitting public assistance applications
- obtaining transportation to and from court proceedings
- obtaining a cell phone for emergency 911 use in high-risk situations
An abuse victim may also file a petition in family court if a family offense was committed against them. Victims can request that family court issue an order of protection.
Family court is a civil court. Any proceedings will not lead to the abuser having a criminal record.
To pursue a family court proceeding, the alleged victim and abuser must:
- be related by blood
- be legally married
- been formerly married
- have a child in common or
- have been or in an intimate relationship
An attorney can help protect family members’ rights in these volatile situations. They can also guide them through the legal process.