Domestic Violence, Family Offense Proceeding and Order of Protection
Especially in the event of an emergency, to the extent that someone is a victim of a crime, they should contact law enforcement by dialing 911. You may also call the New York State Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-942-6906 for non-emergency issues. The New York State Penal Law lists a number of different offenses including harassment, assault, criminal mischief (property damage), aggravated harassment, menacing and disorderly conduct which may, unfortunately, occur between family members. The criminal courts have their own established process to deal with these situations and can operate concurrently with Family Court in issuing an Order of Protection.
Often, when there is a pending Family Court or Supreme Court action between members of the same family and then there is a separate criminal charge involving the same parties, those various individual cases may be transferred to an Integrated Domestic Violence Court where they may all then be resolved before the same judge.
When there has been improper conduct by one family member against another, an Order of Protection may be sought from the court. In a matrimonial or separation action that is typically done as a result of a motion being filed before the court and in Family Court that is achieved through a family offense proceeding wherein one party must allege behavior that is similar to a designated Penal Law offense and in that case the Order of Protection sought from the court can only issue on a "permanent basis" if consented to by the other party or after the court has had a hearing in the case and determined one of the parties to be at fault. Orders of Protection may be very restrictive prohibiting all forms of communication, as well as prohibiting the offending party from being anywhere near a particular person and also restricting that party from engaging in improper conduct. Each order, however, is treated differently and may not necessarily be as restrictive and may allow certain forms of contact or communication or may be as lenient as only to prohibit conduct which should not occur anyway such as menacing, threatening or assaulting the other party. A violation of an Order of Protection can result in a charge of criminal contempt.
Our attorneys are regularly involved in assisting clients in obtaining orders of protection, as well as defending clients against whom an Order of Protection is sought.