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What Are the Charges for Domestic Abuse in New York?

Domestic abuse in New York is an umbrella category meant to describe crimes that involve people who live in the same household, have a romantic or intimate relationship, or are family members. Due to the nature of these crimes, they are sometimes referred to by New York courts as family offenses. 

If you have been charged with a crime that falls under the category of domestic abuse in New York, it is crucial to get the help of an experienced New York domestic violence attorney who would listen to your side of the case attentively and investigate your case diligently. At Edward Palermo Criminal Defense, top-rated criminal defense attorney Ed Palermo has provided quality legal assistance to individuals charged with domestic violence cases in New York. Contact our office today at (516) 280-2160 or (631) 265-1052 to schedule a consultation.

Domestic Abuse in New York

Most people have the common misconception that domestic abuse only involves a husband or a father assaulting a wife or their children; however, statistics show that domestic abuse can be perpetrated by and can be experienced by people regardless of their gender, age, and socioeconomic background.

To be a victim of domestic abuse, there must be an “intimate relationship” between the defendant and the alleged victim. In New York, having an intimate relationship can include familial or relationships in the same household as well as the following close relationships as defined by Social Services Law Section 459-A:

  • People currently married to each other or people who have been divorced 
  • People who share children including adopted children
  • People related by marriage, such as in-laws
  • People who have a blood relation
  • Unrelated people who currently live, or have lived together for a period of time
  • Unrelated people who are currently in or who were in an intimate relationship such as people who are dating

The intimate relationship definition can still stand even if the alleged victim and the defendant do not live in the same residence, even if the relationship is not sexual, and even if the relationship is over. The court can also consider the nature or the type of the relationship, how often the alleged victim and the defendant see or saw each other, and how long the relationship has lasted as additional factors to establish the “intimate relationship”.

In addition, while physical abuse is the first thing that comes to mind when people think of domestic abuse, there may be factors of domestic abuse that are not as easily visible as bruises or injuries. Aside from physical abuse, domestic violence can also involve financial, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse. The law seeks to immediately provide respite to victims of abuse. When a call is made to law enforcement in New York regarding a domestic abuse case, they are mandated to make an arrest. This makes being accused of as well as being convicted of domestic abuse a very serious matter.

Protective Orders in a Domestic Abuse Case

Protective orders, also referred to as restraining orders, is a court-imposed directive that prohibits an individual, usually someone who has been convicted of domestic abuse, from having contact, both direct and indirect, with a person who has been a victim of domestic abuse.

Protective orders can be granted to alleged victims even if the proceedings for the domestic abuse charges are still ongoing. The court will review the petition for a protective order and may grant it if they believe that the defendant is a threat to the safety and well-being of the alleged victim. The court may also issue a temporary order of protection by itself. Protection orders may be issued without notifying the defendant before the order is issued.

A temporary protection order can include the following provisions:

  • That the defendant stays away from and refrains from entering the home, workplace, or school of family members, members of the household, or the witnesses stated in the order.
  • That the defendant follows a visitation schedule for their child which can be supervised
  • Prohibiting the defendant from committing criminal offenses to a child, the defendant’s family members, members of the household, or other individuals indicated in the order
  • Prohibiting the defendant from committing acts that put the health, safety, and well-being of a child, the defendant’s family members, members of the household, or other individuals indicated in the order
  • That the defendant assign another person who can enter the residence at a specified time to remove the defendant’s belongings if the defendant shares a residence with protected individuals indicated in the order
  • Prohibiting the defendant from harming any pets belonging to the protected individuals in the order or owned by a member of the household

Orders of protection issued in family court proceedings can last up to two years unless there is an aggravating condition in the case or there is conduct that violates an existing order of protection in which the court may decide to extend the duration of the order. Defendants in domestic abuse cases are advised to follow the provisions of protection orders carefully and to get the help of an experienced New York criminal defense attorney who can help them understand their rights and responsibilities. 

Charges Under Domestic Violence in New York

Domestic violence is defined in New York as “a pattern of coercive tactics, which can include physical, psychological, sexual, economic and emotional abuse, perpetrated by one person against an adult intimate partner, with the goal of establishing and maintaining power and control over the victim.” Acts of as well as threats to commit abuse are both included in the category of domestic abuse. Some of the most common domestic abuse charges include the following:

Disorderly Conduct

If you argue with your girlfriend or your spouse in public with the argument escalating to shouting or physical blows, either or both of you may receive charges of disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct is one of the most common domestic violence charges. Disorderly conduct is considered a violation under N.Y. Pen. Law § 240.20.

Sexual Misconduct

In New York, sexual misconduct is defined as engaging in sexual acts, including sexual intercourse, oral sex, or anal sex, without the consent of the other person. This includes situations where the individuals are in a romantic relationship, such as married, cohabitating, or dating. If sexual contact occurs without the consent of the other person, it is considered domestic violence and a form of sexual misconduct.

Under N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.00, sexual intercourse is defined as any penetration, even partial, of the vagina by a penis. Sexual misconduct is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, and if convicted, a person may face a maximum sentence of one year in jail.

Sexual Abuse and Rape

Having sexual contact with another person without their consent is considered sexual abuse in New York while having sexual intercourse with another person without their consent is the definition of rape. Sexual contact is defined as the touching of a person’s sexual or intimate parts for gratification. The degree of charges can vary depending on the basis of the lack of consent, for example, if the alleged victim was incapacitated, was coerced into the encounter, or is a minor who is unable to legally consent. Sexual abuse and rape are both graded into three degrees and may range from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Assault and Reckless Endangerment

Causing physical harm or injury to another person, especially a person you are in a relationship with, a child, or another household member can constitute assault. The intent to injure is not required to be charged with assault in New York, just that the person exercised either negligence or recklessness that caused the injury. Assault charges can vary depending on the use of a weapon and the severity of the injuries.

While assault involves directly causing a victim’s injury or harm, reckless endangerment involves engaging in behavior that creates the conditions of another person being at risk of injury. Charges of reckless endangerment can vary depending on whether the defendant exhibited a depraved indifference to human life.

Harassment and Stalking

Harassment involves engaging in behavior that is annoying or violent towards another person, such as physical contact, following, or other conduct that causes alarm. If this harassment is carried out using written or electronic means, such as letters or phone calls, it is considered aggravated harassment.

Following someone such as a romantic partner, a spouse, or an ex, or engaging in communication that causes fear for their safety, you may be charged with stalking. The New York Penal Law outlines four different degrees of stalking, ranging from fourth-degree to first-degree. A first-degree stalking charge may be brought if while stalking someone, you also cause them physical harm intentionally or recklessly, or if you also commit a sex crime against them.


The most extreme cases can result in murder wherein a person causes the death of a spouse, a romantic partner, or another member of the household. A second-degree murder charge involves causing the death of someone while in extreme emotional imbalance while a first-degree charge involves intentionally causing the death of the other person.

The following are charges that also fall under the category of domestic abuse in New York when committed towards a significant other, a spouse, or someone living in the same household:

  • Strangulation
  • Criminal Mischief
  • Intimidation
  • Threats
  • Identity Theft
  • Theft
  • Coercion

The penalties faced by those convicted of crimes under the category of domestic abuse may vary in severity depending on the charges they incurred. Some offenses may be charged as misdemeanors and carry lesser penalties compared to those charged as felonies. Aggravating factors can include whether the use of a weapon was involved in the crime and the number of previous convictions a defendant has.

Like with any other crime, people who are facing charges of domestic abuse are also entitled to legal representation regardless of their circumstances. A conviction can have serious consequences. Penalties can range from probation to life in prison depending on the charges. While penalties for convictions on charges like disorderly conduct may be considered minimal compared to other charges, the vast majority of punishments can involve being punished with a misdemeanor or a felony. For crimes involving sexual misconduct, sexual assault, or rape, the defendant may be required to register as a sex offender if convicted, possibly for the rest of their life. 

Aside from the possibility of being imprisoned and paying hefty fines, convictions for a domestic abuse charge can remain on a person’s criminal record. Regardless of the charges, it is important to get the help of a skilled New York domestic violence attorney. A qualified attorney can build a strong legal defense that can make the difference between a conviction or your charges being dismissed or commuted. 

At Edward Palermo Criminal Defense, our team of attorneys leverages their extensive knowledge of the justice system and the law to defend the rights of our clients charged with crimes in New York. We may be able to help investigate the circumstances of your case and represent your best interests in court. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at (516) 280-2160 or (631) 265-1052.