In New York, a domestic violence charge is a serious offense. Furthermore, both the family court and the criminal court have jurisdiction when it comes to domestic violence, including assault, stalking, and other violent criminal acts that fall under the category. This means that an offender can face charges in both courts at the same time.
In general, domestic violence occurs among members of the same family or household. This includes individuals that are legally or formally married, people who have a child in common, or even a couple that is in an intimate relationship whether or not they are living under the same roof.
Just like with violent criminal offenses that occur between strangers, or people unrelated, the penalties can range from misdemeanors to felonies. For example, if an individual receives a conviction for first-degree assault, the offender could face five to 25 years in prison or a fine not to exceed $5,000. In a case where first-degree strangulation is the charge, the offender might be looking at a prison term of 3.5 to 15 years or a fine similar to the first-degree assault offense. Lesser offenses, such as third-degree assault, usually receive treatment as misdemeanors. A class A misdemeanor domestic violence charge usually comes with a jail term not to exceed one year and a fine that can range up to $1,000.
There are certain defenses that might be available to an individual facing lesser domestic violence charges. For example, if a parent had to use non-deadly force on a child under the age of 21 in order to discipline or restrain the child, then there might be justification for the act. Self-defense might also be an option for some individuals that might be looking at a domestic violence charge. In order for a self-defense situation to apply, the victim must have been behaving in a threatening manner or actually using unlawful force. Another possible defense is mental illness.
If you are facing domestic violence charges, it is important to remember that you still have rights and options. One of the above defenses might apply to your situation, but, like with many other types of criminal offenses, it will depend heavily on the specific circumstances of your case.