Domestic Violence Lawyer - NYC
Your NYC Domestic Violence Arrest
Being arrested and charged with domestic violence in New York City can
be a frightening, stressful, and complicated experience. You can lose
your freedom, home, job, and passport for simply being arrested and before
the issue of your guilt or innocence has been decided. Your freedom and/or
passport can be affected if bail is set at the arraignment (your first
appearance in court immediately after arrest). Your home can be lost if
the judge issues an order of protection (restraining order) that prohibits
you from entering a shared residence where the victim lives or lived.
Your employment can be affected if your employer finds out about the arrest
or if your arrest and/or future court dates causes an impermissible absence
from work. Misdemeanors, the least serious type of domestic violence cases,
generally carry penalties of up to a year in jail and felonies carry the
risk of a long state prison sentence. Domestic violence charges are the
same as for non-domestic related violence but the "domestic"
designation to the violence used can enhance enforcement and penalties.
At the Law Offices of Lance Fletcher, we are able to provide a tough and
experienced defense for clients accused of misdemeanor or felony domestic
violence charges. Regardless of the facts and circumstances of your case,
we are able to take immediate action to avoid conviction, contest the
order of protection, and fight to get your case dismissed. Lance Fletcher
prosecuted numerous domestic violence cases while a prosecutor at the
Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. As a former prosecutor, he
is able to draw upon this experience to effectively advocate for his clients
because he is experienced not only in interpreting domestic violence statues,
but also in understanding how the system interprets different cases. Lance
Fletcher will carefully analyze every detail of the prosecutor’s
case so we can carefully explore and pursue every possible avenue to get
the charges dropped. As part of this, he carefully reviews the nuances
and inconsistencies of the different accounts made by the accuser.
Domestic Violence Definition. In New York, Domestic violence is a general
term for crimes committed against people related by blood, a past or current
marriage, domestic partnership, or living arrangement, blood (consanguinity),
or having children in common. Victims can include current or former romantic
partners, parents, and children.
Domestic Violence Laws. New York Domestic violence laws are a collection
of laws designed to work together to prosecute offenders, enhance penalties,
and protect victims. Domestic violence laws are triggered whenever a criminal
offense is committed against a victim who has a past or current relationship
with the accused.
The New York City Police Department (NYPD) has a tough mandatory arrest
policy when investigating domestic violence. This means that if you are
suspected of domestic violence, even if the facts are less than clear,
you may be automatically arrested and prosecuted without a chance to tell
your side. Additionally, in New York City domestic violence cases, the
prosecutor often attempts to get a statement from you before you have
a chance to get a lawyer. Any statement can turn into a confession and
hurt your case. In court, the District Attorney is under pressure to secure
a conviction with a harsh sentence because the public is increasingly
concerned that domestic abusers are getting away with it.
Once the prosecution starts, you might be prosecuted even if the victim
recants (takes it back) and tells the prosecutor they don’t want
to press charges. This is because the District Attorney, in anticipating
that many domestic violence victims recant after the arrest, uses every
legal strategy available to continue the prosecution. In some cases, this
means using prior statements the accuser made to the police in which the
accuser detailed the crime. Depending on the severity of the charges,
you could face imprisonment (up to 1 year for misdemeanors), probation,
mandatory counseling, community services, as well as having an order of
protection issued against you that may prevent you from communicating
with your loved ones.
No actual "violence" needed. A large number of domestic violence cases involve only threats, stalking,
harassment, and other non-violent accusations. We have even defended clients
who were accused of theft for stealing a former intimate partner’s
property and cases where our client was charged with intentionally damaging
the victim’s property (such as furniture that was damaged during
a loud argument). With the rise of texting, email, and social networking,
there has been a steady rise in these types of cases. The penalties for
misdemeanor theft, property damage (criminal mischief), stalking, harassment,
or other threatening communications is largely the same as for violent
misdemeanors. Both types are usually charged as class A misdemeanors which
carry a one year jail maximum.
Hire an experienced and skilled trial lawyer.
Many lawyers have some experience negotiating but how many focus on criminal
cases or have extensive trial experience? An inexperienced lawyer or a
lawyer who is spread too thin handling family, personal injury, or civil
cases may be unfamiliar with what they should and what they should not
do when preparing your defense. Prosecutors are aware of this and will
notice if your attorney is not taking the right steps to defend you and
may offer you a less favorable outcome. Lance Fletcher, a former Manhattan
prosecutor, has extensive trial experience which means he knows how to
prepare your defense for the maximum benefit.
Dynamic of Domestic Violence and Why it Matters to Your Case
Situational violence – argument leads to isolated incidence of physical
violence. Not part of a larger pattern of domination, abuse, or control.
Here, women are more likely to be abusers as in other dynamics of abuse
but women are more likely to be injured (Ooms, Theodora (2006).
Intimate terrorism – Pattern of ongoing psychological control. Physical,
emotional, and other tools are used interchangeably to wear away the victim’s
resistance. A power and control wheel graphic has been developed by the
National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence.
Violent resistance – situations where the victim violently lashes
out against the abuser (such as battered spouse syndrome)
Common couple violence – situations where both partners routinely
engage in domestic violence
Mutual violent control – both partners use violence to battle for control
Types of Domestic Violence
History of Domestic Violence in the United States
Historically, there has been strong public pressure to track not only violent
offenses, but violence that happens in the home. Although domestic violence
often concerns people in the context of an intimate relationship, it may
apply to other violence that occurs within the home such as violence against
child by a parent, against a parent by a child, or between siblings. Domestic
violence trends are monitored by national and international agencies,
governmental, and non-governmental agencies. Women are the most common
victims of domestic violence, suffering a disproportionate amount of the
physical and mental harm. Men can also be victims of domestic violence
and because they do not fit the more common victim profile (which are
women), men may be more hesitant to complain because they may fear being
ridiculed or not taken seriously. Some racial groups face disproportionately
higher rates of domestic violence. About 60% of Native American women
will be victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives.
Domestic violence often results from relationship power struggles that
result from both partners struggling for control, one partner unilaterally
seeking total control, or something in-between. Violent and non-violent
tactics may be used by one or both partners. In some countries, domestic
violence is more rampant than in the Unites States. The rate of Domestic
violence in Central America, India, Africa, and the Middle East is particularly high.
About 1 to 3 million incidents of domestic violence happen annually in
the United States. Women report abuse about six times more often than
men. Sadly, domestic violence happens against pregnant women which can
lead to the death of the fetus. About one in four women in the US will
be victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives and domestic
violence is a leading cause of injury for adult women.
Mandatory Arrest Policies. New York City, like many other places in the
US, have mandatory arrest policies. Typically, a police officer can make
an arrest when he/she has probable cause to believe that a crime has been
committed. Probable cause is the subjective but reasonable belief that
a particular person did particular things that constituted a criminal
offense. If a police officer sees certain things that give him/her probable
cause, the police officer is, legally, able to make an arrest but is not
typically required to make the arrest. For example, sometimes people have
had experience talking police officers out of making an arrest in a situation
where the officer was allowed to (such as with suspected DWI, a bar fight,
being disorderly in public). Mandatory arrest policies prevent a police
officer from not making an arrest if he has probable cause. Under a mandatory
arrest policy, the police officer’s personal desire to not make
the arrest (such as because he doesn’t want to be bothered, or “likes”
the accused) can’t prevent the officer from making the arrest and
the arrest must proceed. In 1981-1982, the Minneapolis Domestic Violence
Experiment was done which looked at several possible ways to handle a
domestic violence complaint including (1) sending the abuser away for
8 hours, (2) giving advice and mediation to both parties, and (3) making
an arrest. Making a domestic violence arrest was found to be the most
effective response. In the years that followed, 23 states and Washington
DC adopted mandatory arrest policies as a way to respond to domestic violence arrests.
Perpetuators of domestic violence are subject to arrest and criminal prosecution
in New York Criminal Court. Although assault is the most common type of
charge, strangulation, harassment, theft, criminal mischief, and other
charges can be added depending on what is alleged to have happened. Domestic
violence allegations can have significant impact on child custody proceedings
because if one parent is viewed as being abusive, a family court may decide
to award custody to the non-abusive spouse to protect the child from past
or possible future abuse.
Common Domestic Violence Charges
P.L. 120.00 – Assault in the First Degree
P.L. 110/120.00 – Attempted Assault
P.L. 240.26 – Harassment
P.L. 240.30 – Aggravated Harassment
Domestic Violence Case Results
Manhattan (3028) - Client was arrested for assaulting his wife with whom he has a young
child. He was seen hitting her by the doorman. His wife received treatment
in a hospital. He was later arrested for violating the order of protection.
Client faced up to a year in jail and loss of his professional license.
Prosecutor initially offered 90 days in jail.
Result: no jail, no permanent criminal record, and no probation.
Queens (1100) - Client arrested for harassing his wife. He faced up to a year in jail.
Result: No jail, all criminal charges dropped, small fine.
Manhattan (1778) - Client arrested for stabbing boyfriend. Client arrested after
police spoke to her boyfriend in the hospital. Client charged with felony
assault in the first degree and faced possible attempted murder charges
and up to 20 years in prison and a felony conviction.
Result: Case dismissed.
Brooklyn (3260) - Client arrested for assaulting his girlfriend and causing physical
injury. Client faced up to a year in jail and international travel problems
Result: Case dismissed.
Queens (1226) - Client arrested for intentionally damaging her boyfriends car
by scratching the paint and mirrors and lights. Client faced up to a year in jail.
Result: Case dismissed.
Manhattan (3034) - Client arrested for punching his wife and threatening her with
a knife. Client faced up to a year in jail. Client later threatened with
felony charges for allegedly raping her (marriage is not a defense to
rape) and could have faced up to 20 years.
Result: Case dismissed.
Queens (2530) - Client arrested for assaulting and pushing wife. Client faced
up to a year in jail, immigration consequences, and loss of his nursing
license if convicted.
Result: All criminal charges dropped, no jail, no probation, small fine.
Manhattan (3019) - Client arrested for assaulting girlfriend. Initially, client
faced felony charges, up to 5 years in state prison, permanent loss of
professional license and investment banking job. Client later arrested
for violating order of protection and faced an additional year in jail.
Result: No jail, no felony conviction.
Brooklyn (2226) - Client arrested three times for assault and related offenses
regarding his girlfriend. Because he had three misdemeanors, he faced
up to three years in jail if convicted.
Result: All criminal charges dropped, brief program, small fine.
Manhattan - (936) - Client arrested for burglary and domestic violence. Client faced
a possible state prison sentence.
Result: No felony, no criminal record, all criminal charges dropped.
The Bronx - (3123) - Client arrested for assaulting his girlfriend. She presented
many photos to the NYPD documenting the assault and client partially confessed.
He faced up to a year in jail if convicted.
Result: No jail, no criminal record, small fine and a brief program.
Manhattan - (3210) - Client arrested for allegedly punching his wife. Client faced
up to a year and immigration consequences.
Result: No jail, no criminal record, case ultimately dismissed.