Did you know that the state of New York has specific government initiatives designed to prevent domestic violence? The state is vocally committed to preventing domestic violence and helping victims through a sophisticated system of shelters, hotlines, intervention, counseling and other resources. As a result, victims have access to a variety of options that allow them to navigate domestic violence courts.
The history of domestic violence prevention in New York is strong - our state is one of the frontrunners when it comes to helping victims navigate the legal system. In fact, there are more than 50 designated courts that are designed to help domestic violence victims get the support they need, including a temporary restraining order or other type of protective order. This system was established with the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Intervention Act of 1994.
It is important to note, though, that New York's criminal code does not actually define the term "domestic violence." Identifying a crime under this umbrella simply depends on the relationship of the victim to the alleged attacker. Victims can seek recourse through family court for orders of protection against family members. Interestingly, though, boyfriends and partners do not qualify as family members, so victims are only able to use criminal court for help in those circumstances.
What does this mean for criminal defendants? Your case may not be processed through a "traditional" legal process - in fact, you may only ever deal with the specialized domestic violence courts. Defendants need to understand their legal rights in both family and criminal courts, which may mean enlisting the help of an attorney to learn more about your legal rights and options.
Source: Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, "New York State's Response to Domestic Violence: Systems and Services Making a Difference," accessed March 31, 2017