Crime Against a Family Member
A domestic violence lawyer defends you against charges made by your romantic partner or family member.
Charges often include assault, aggravated harassment, menacing, and criminal contempt.
I’ve successfully defended clients accused of domestic violence for 26 years.
Being accused doesn’t make you guilty. While it’s fashionable to believe otherwise, many domestic violence complaints are false.
Domestic violence charges can result in a wide range of consequences. You can lose:
- Your freedom
- Your home
- Custody of your children
The percentage of false domestic violence complaints is high. This is disturbing, but not surprising when you consider the emotions that arise in relationships, and the motives for making false accusations.
Whether an accusation is false, true, or somewhere in between, you need your domestic violence lawyer to pursue the best outcome possible for you.
Definition of Domestic Violence
“Domestic Violence” isn’t the name of a crime. It’s a category that covers numerous crimes committed between “members of the same family or household”. For example, assault or aggravated harassment or stalking by one spouse against another is domestic violence.
A crime between strangers, or neighbors, isn’t domestic violence. A crime between family members is.
Fight Domestic Violence Charges
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Domestic violence charges can arise in any number of ways: a struggle over a significant other’s cell phone to check text messages; a heated argument that gets physical at home after a night out drinking; a false abuse claim to gain the upper hand in a child custody dispute.
Never speak to the police about an accusation that’s been made against you. Contact a domestic violence lawyer immediately. Before you’re arrested, if possible.
Orders of Protection
The written document that courts use to limit contact between a defendant and an alleged victim is called a “restraining order” or an “order of protection”.
While a criminal case is pending, the order of protection is temporary. If the case ends in a conviction, the order if final – lasting between 2 and 10 years, depending on the seriousness of the crime of conviction.
When you’re first charged with domestic violence, the judge at your arraignment probably will order you to have no contact with the alleged victim. As in ZERO CONTACT. None.
Such restraining orders can be extremely burdensome. If you share a home with the complainant, you must immediately find a new place to live. If you have a child in common with your accuser, you’ll probably need a visitation order from Family Court or divorce court to continue parenting your child.
The degree of restraint directed by an order of protection can range from a “limited order of protection” directing you to refrain from committing an offense against the protected person, to a “full order of protection” directing you to have no contact or communication with the protected person.
Violating an order of protection is a crime called “criminal contempt”, for which you can be separately prosecuted.
A Complicated Domestic Violence Case
Domestic violence cases take on lives of their own.
A District Attorney once prosecuted my client for allegedly assaulting his wife, even though the wife made no complaint.
The wife had no physical injuries. The accuser was a complete stranger. He had served 10 years in prison on a robbery conviction, and he had felony assault charges pending against him at the time. No evidence corroborated his accusation.
The wife wanted the case against her husband dismissed. She wanted the Court to vacate the temporary order of protection that ordered her husband to have no contact with her.
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 residences.
The prosecutor assigned to the case told the wife, “I’m ashamed for you,” because the wife refused to adopt the DA’s position that the husband had assaulted her.
Representing the Alleged Victim
Prosecutors pursue domestic violence charges even when the alleged victim wants to drop the charges.
In addition to the accused, I’m a domestic violence lawyer for alleged victims who don’t consider themselves to be victims. I’m help 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, I never represent defendants and victims in the same case. To do so would be a conflict of interest.
Bruce Yerman is a domestic violence lawyer in New York City. His office is located on the fourth floor of 160 Broadway in Manhattan. If you’d like a free consultation to discuss criminal defense or family law, call Bruce at:
Or email Bruce a brief description of your situation: