A family or household member includes people related by blood or marriage, current or former spouses, people who have been in an intimate relationship (even if they never lived together) and co-parents of a child.
Domestic violence charges can arise in any number of ways, from an argument over a football game to a parent reacting in anger to a child’s misbehavior to a spouse making up abuse to gain an advantage in a divorce or custody matter. Regardless of how the charges occurred, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after you are arrested — and to never talk to the police without your attorney present. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can protect you from false charges and protect your legal rights.
In addition to criminal charges, anyone accused of domestic violence may also be facing a demand for an order of protection from the alleged victim. Restraining orders are a civil matter and do not have a direct impact on your criminal case. Nevertheless, a restraining order can be a major burden on your life, particularly if you share children with the alleged victim or if the alleged victim is your child or another family member.
There are two types of restraining orders: temporary and permanent. A temporary order can be issued without you even knowing that the request has been filed. It will be a short-term prohibition on certain actions, such as being in contact with the alleged victim or being in the home. After a temporary order of protection has been issued, then there will be a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to issue a permanent protection order, which can be issued for a period of up to five years. If you are convicted of domestic violence, an order of protection can be issued for a longer period of time (up to eight years for a felony).
A Complicated Domestic Violence Case
I represented a husband accused of assaulting his wife. The wife never accused her husband of assaulting her. The wife had no physical injuries. The person who accused the husband of assaulting his wife was a complete stranger. The accuser had served 10 years in prison on a robbery conviction, and he had felony assault charges pending against him. The wife wanted the case against her husband dismissed, and she wanted the temporary order of protection removed.
Despite all this, the district attorney refused to follow the wife’s wishes. Throughout the case, which lasted many months, the husband and wife were prohibited from communicating with each other. They suffered financial hardship because the order of protection forced them to maintain separate households. At a meeting, the assistant district attorney assigned to the case told the wife, “I’m ashamed for you,” because the wife refused to adopt the district attorney’s position that the husband had assaulted her. Sad to say, the facts of this case are not unusual.
Representing the Family-Member “Victim”
Unfortunately, district attorneys pursue domestic violence charges even where the person being “protected” wants the charges to be dropped.
For this reason, I also represent alleged victims of domestic violence who do not consider themselves to be victims. I am committed to advocating for clients in cases where, against their wishes, the district attorney:
- Insists on prosecuting a family member
- Pursues a full order of protection to keep the family apart
- Refuses to dismiss criminal charges after rehabilitation has occurred
I help victims have a say in their domestic violence cases. However, as a New york City Domestic Violence Lawyer, I never represent defendants and victims in the same case. To do so would be a conflict of interest.