The line between a standard assault charge and domestic violence can be unclear. The implications are important because, besides the potential criminal penalties, domestic violence charges also expose you to being subjected to an order of protection.
When an accusation of violence becomes domestic assault charges
One of the most critical distinctions between a standard violent crime and domestic violence is the relationship between the alleged victim and the accused person. Under New York law, the two parties must have an “intimate relationship” for domestic assault charges to come into play. Examples of intimate relationships include:
- Married couples, or formerly married couples
- Co-parents of one or more children
- People related through marriage, i.e., in-laws
- Blood relatives
- Unrelated cohabitants or former cohabitants, i.e., current and former roommates
- Unrelated people in intimate relationships, or who used to be in an intimate relationship
If there is a question of whether there is an intimate relationship, the factors courts consider are:
- The nature of the relationship
- How often the parties saw each other
- The length of the relationship
Note that you need not live with your accuser to be charged with domestic violence. Nor does your relationship need to be sexual. However, the relationship has to be more intimate than a friendship or acquaintance with a co-worker.
Take the charges seriously
There is a wide range of criminal charges stemming from domestic violence, ranging from misdemeanors to felonies with prison sentences of up to 25 years. On top of the consequences of a conviction, there is the civil side. An order of protection can stop you from seeing your children or returning to your home.
With your freedom, your criminal record, and your parental rights potentially at stake, you need to take steps to protect yourself as soon as possible after you are arrested. This includes contacting a criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible.