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Protecting Your Rights and Safety in Long Island Domestic Violence Cases
At The Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg, P.C., we work with all our domestic violence clients to protect their rights and well-being, both in the short term (by ensuring immediate safety) and in the long term (by ensuring the client’s financial safety). We understand the difficulties facing such clients and offer practical advice aimed at a realistic solution to an unimaginable problem. Our Suffolk County Domestic Violence Lawyers have successfully litigated all components of domestic violence in divorce and family court.
What is Domestic Violence in New York?
In New York, family violence or domestic violence is typically defined as a pattern of abusive behavior, including physical, emotional, verbal, or economic abuse, that occurs within an intimate relationship or between family members. This can include spouses, former spouses, parents and children, individuals in a dating relationship, or people who share a household.
Common Domestic Violence Offenses in New York: Some common domestic violence offenses in New York may include:
- Assault: Physical violence or the threat of physical harm against a family or household member.
- Harassment: Repeated unwanted behavior, such as threats, stalking, or verbal abuse, that creates fear or distress in the victim.
- Menacing: Threatening behavior with the intent to cause fear of injury or harm.
- Emotional and Psychological Abuse: Emotional abuse involves behaviors that aim to control or manipulate the victim’s emotions, self-esteem, and sense of self-worth. This can include constant criticism, humiliation, intimidation, and threats.
- Verbal Abuse: Verbal abuse involves using words to demean, belittle, or frighten the victim. This can include shouting, name-calling, insulting, or using derogatory language.
- Isolation: Abusers may isolate their victims by preventing them from seeing friends and family, controlling their social interactions, or keeping them confined to the home.
- Using Children: Some abusers use children as tools to manipulate and control the victim, using them to threaten or harm the victim emotionally.
- Criminal Contempt: Violating an order of protection (restraining order) issued by a court.
- Strangulation: Intentionally obstructing another person’s breathing or blood circulation.
- Stalking. Pursuant New York Penal Law Article 120, stalking refers to a pattern of repeated, unwanted behavior or conduct aimed at a specific person, which intentionally and knowingly causes that person to fear for their safety, mental or emotional well-being, or to feel harassed, alarmed, or annoyed. Stalking conduct can take various forms, including but not limited to repeatedly following the victim; sending threatening or harassing messages, emails, or texts; making unwanted phone calls; vandalizing the victim’s property; leaving unwanted gifts or objects for the victim; spreading false rumors about the victim; or cyberstalking or online harassment.
- Sexual Assault: Unwanted sexual contact or assault within an intimate relationship.
- Child Abuse: Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of a child within the family.
- Economic Abuse: Economic abuse is a form of abuse in which one partner or family member exerts undue control and power over another by controlling their financial resources and access to money. It is a pattern of behavior aimed at making the victim financially dependent on the abuser while preventing them from having financial independence and security. Economic abuse is a type of domestic violence because it is often used as a means to maintain power and control in an abusive relationship. Common forms of economic abuse include controlling finances, sabotaging employment, stealing / withholding money, forcing debt, threatening financial harm, denying access to resources or exploiting the victim’s income.
Is domestic violence only physical violence?
No, domestic violence is not limited to physical violence. Domestic violence encompasses a wide range of abusive behaviors that can be physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, psychological, or economic in nature. It’s a pattern of coercive control and abusive conduct that occurs within intimate or familial relationships. Domestic violence is about power and control. It often involves a combination of these abusive behaviors, and the abuser may escalate their tactics over time. Victims of domestic violence can suffer severe physical and emotional harm, and it’s essential to recognize that all forms of abuse are harmful and unacceptable.
Who Can Be a Target of Domestic Violence?
The targets of domestic violence typically include individuals who are involved in intimate or familial relationships with their abusers. These relationships are characterized by a close connection and can include spouses and former spouses, domestic partners, dating or romantic relationships, family members and household members.
It’s important to emphasize that anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, and anyone can be an abuser. Family violence is not limited to any specific demographic or group of people. The abuser’s goal is typically to exert power and control over the victim, and they may use various forms of abuse, including physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, or economic abuse.
The Cycle of Violence
The “cycle of violence” is a concept used to describe the typical pattern or phases that can occur in an abusive or violent relationship. This cycle is often used to explain the dynamics of abusive relationships and why victims sometimes stay with their abusers. It’s important to note that not all abusive relationships follow this exact pattern, but it can be a useful framework for understanding the dynamics of many abusive relationships. The cycle of violence typically consists of three main phases:
- Tension-Building Phase. During this phase, there is a gradual increase in tension and conflict within the relationship. Communication breaks down, and minor arguments and disputes become more frequent. The victim often feels like they need to tread carefully to avoid triggering the abuser’s anger. The victim may try to placate or appease the abuser to prevent the situation from escalating.
- Explosion or Acute Violence Phase. This phase is characterized by a sudden and intense outburst of abusive behavior. The abuser may become physically, verbally, or emotionally violent, often resulting in harm or injury to the victim. The victim is at the greatest risk of harm during this phase.
- Honeymoon or Reconciliation Phase. After the acute violence phase, the abuser may exhibit remorse, guilt, or shame for their actions. The abuser may apologize, promise to change, or offer gifts and affection to the victim. The victim may feel relief, hope, or a desire to believe that the abuse won’t happen again. This phase can create a sense of false security, making it difficult for the victim to leave the relationship.
The cycle of violence often repeats itself, with the tension-building phase leading back to another explosion of abuse and then a temporary return to the honeymoon phase. Over time, the tension-building phase may become shorter, and the explosive phase may become more severe.
It’s essential to understand that this cycle is not a healthy or normal pattern of behavior in a relationship. It is a characteristic of abusive relationships, and the abuser uses this cycle to maintain power and control over the victim. Victims may stay in abusive relationships because they hope that the abuser’s promises of change during the honeymoon phase will be realized, or they may fear further violence if they try to leave.
Breaking the cycle of violence often requires intervention, support, and resources for the victim. This can include seeking help from domestic violence shelters, hotlines, counseling services, and legal assistance. Friends and family can also play a crucial role in supporting victims and encouraging them to seek help and safety. Long Island offers assistance for victims of domestic violence including L.I. Against Domestic Violence and Brighter Tomorrows, as well as Suffolk County Domestic Violence assistance through S.T.O.P. Violence Against Women. Additionally, a national Domestic Violence hotline has been established to provide victims with assistance 24 hours a day at 1-800-799-7233
What Can a Victim of Domestic Violence Do in Suffolk County?
Breaking the cycle of violence often requires intervention, support, and resources for the victim. This can include seeking help from domestic violence shelters, hotlines, counseling services, and legal assistance. Friends and family can also play a crucial role in supporting victims and encouraging them to seek help and safety. Long Island offers assistance for victims of domestic violence including L.I. Against Domestic Violence and Brighter Tomorrows, as well as Suffolk County Domestic Violence assistance through S.T.O.P. Violence Against Women. Additionally, a national Domestic Violence hotline has been established to provide victims with assistance 24 hours a day at 1-800-799-7233.
In addition to pursuing criminal charges, the New York courts offer a range of remedies and legal options to address domestic violence and provide protection to victims. These remedies are designed to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals who are experiencing domestic violence.
- Family Court Orders of Protection (Restraining Orders). An order of protection is a court order that can prohibit the abuser from contacting, approaching, or harming the victim. It can also include provisions regarding custody and visitation arrangements if there are children involved. Orders of protection can be obtained in both Family Court and Criminal Court, depending on the circumstances of the case. A Family Court Order of Protection Case is sometimes referred to as a “Family Offense.”
- Family Court Proceedings. Victims can initiate Family Court proceedings to seek orders of protection and other remedies, such as child custody and child support orders. Family Court can also provide resources and referrals for counseling and support services.
- Divorce or Separation Proceedings. Victims of domestic violence may pursue divorce or legal separation as a means of permanently separating from the abuser. The court can issue orders related to property division, spousal support, and child custody as part of divorce or separation proceedings.
- Child Custody and Visitation Orders. Even outside of the context of a divorce, the courts can address child custody and visitation issues to ensure the safety and well-being of children in cases involving domestic violence. Supervised visitation or restricted contact may be ordered to protect the children. When appropriate and necessary to avoid further violence, the courts can allow a custodial parent to relocate with the subject child.
- Enforcement of Orders. Courts have the authority to enforce orders of protection and other court orders if the abuser violates the terms of the order.
It’s important to consult with a Suffolk County Family Violence attorney or seek assistance from a domestic violence advocate when navigating the legal system in domestic violence cases. Legal professionals and advocacy organizations can provide guidance on the best course of action based on the individual circumstances of the case. Additionally, victims should prioritize their safety and seek support from local domestic violence agencies and hotlines.
Who Can Seek an Order of Protection in New York Family Court?
In order to petition for a New York Family Court Order of Protection, the applicant must establish what is known as “standing” or the legal right to be heard and granted such an order. Under Article 8 of the Family Court Act, the following individuals have standing to pursue a Family Offense petition: a current or former spouse; someone with whom the petitioner has a child in common; a family member related by blood or marriage; anyone else with whom the petitioner is in an “intimate relationship.”
What Are the Various Types of Orders of Protection in New York Family Court?
In New York Family Court, several types of orders of protection (restraining orders) are available to address different circumstances and levels of risk. The specific type of order issued depends on the nature of the case and the evidence presented.
- Full Orders of Protection (OP). A full order of protection typically includes provisions that prohibit the respondent (the alleged abuser) from contacting, communicating with, or coming near the petitioner (the person seeking protection) and any other protected parties, such as children or other family members.
- Limited Orders of Protection (sometimes referred to as a “refrain from” OP). A limited order of protection may have specific restrictions or limitations, tailored to the circumstances of the case. For example, it may only prohibit the respondent from engaging in certain behaviors or contacting the petitioner, without imposing broader restrictions.
Exclusive Use and Occupancy of a Marital Residence in a New York divorce
In a New York divorce case, “exclusive use and occupancy” refers to a court order that grants one spouse the exclusive right to live in the marital residence while excluding the other spouse. This order can have several implications and is typically issued during the divorce proceedings.
Exclusive use and occupancy orders are often requested when there is a dispute about who should live in the marital home during the divorce process. This issue may arise when both spouses wish to continue residing in the home, and it can lead to conflicts and disruptions. During the pendency of a case, exclusive use and occupancy orders are typically temporary arrangements and are issued to maintain stability during the divorce process. They do not necessarily determine long-term property division or ownership.
Frequently, the motion for exclusive use and occupancy is the most crucial component of a divorce action in that it provides the victim with a degree of security they may not have experienced in many decades. In light of the stakes, it is essential to retain an experienced domestic violence attorney in Suffolk County for your exclusive use and occupancy case.
Evidence in a New York Domestic Violence Case
Regardless of whether your case is a divorce or a Family Court matter, evidence is crucial in domestic violence cases to support the allegations and to determine whether an order of protection or other legal remedies are warranted. The specific evidence used can vary depending on the circumstances of the case, but common types of evidence in New York domestic violence cases may include:
- Testimony of the Parties. The testimonies of both the petitioner (the person seeking protection) and the respondent (the alleged abuser) are often essential. They may describe the incidents of abuse, harassment, or violence that have occurred.
- Witness Testimony. Statements from witnesses who observed the abuse or harassment can be powerful evidence. This may include statements from family members, friends, neighbors, or co-workers who can corroborate the victim’s account.
- Photographs and Medical Records. Photographs of injuries, bruises, or damage to property resulting from the abuse can serve as physical evidence. Medical records detailing injuries and treatment can also be important.
- Text Messages, Emails, and Voicemails. Electronic communication records, including text messages, emails, and voicemails, can be introduced as evidence if they contain threats, harassment, or admissions of abusive behavior.
- Police Reports. If law enforcement was called to the scene of an incident, the police report can provide an official record of the event. It may include details about injuries, statements made by the parties, and any arrests.
- Domestic Incident Reports. These reports are generated by law enforcement when responding to domestic violence incidents. They can contain information about the alleged abuse, statements from the parties involved, and any actions taken by the police.
- Audio or Video Recordings. If there are recordings of abusive incidents, they can be submitted as evidence. However, it’s important to be aware of legal requirements for recording conversations, as wiretapping laws vary by jurisdiction.
- Expert Witness Testimony. Expert witnesses, such as psychologists or social workers, may be called to testify about the psychological and emotional impact of domestic violence on the victim and any children involved.
- Incident Logs or Journals. Victims sometimes maintain personal logs or journals documenting incidents of abuse, including dates, times, and descriptions of what occurred. These can provide a detailed record of the abuse.
- Criminal Records. Prior convictions or criminal records of the respondent may be introduced as evidence to establish a pattern of abusive behavior.
- Protective Order Violations. If the respondent has violated a previously issued protective order, such violations can be used as evidence of the need for continued protection.
Marshalling evidence and ensuring its admissibility is one of the most crucial aspects of any domestic violence case. It’s essential to work closely with Suffolk County lawyer specializing in domestic violence cases to ensure that the evidence is properly gathered, organized, and presented in court. The court will consider the evidence and testimony presented when determining whether to issue an order of protection or take other legal actions to address domestic violence concerns.
Schedule a Consultation with a Suffolk County Domestic Violence Lawyer Today
Domestic violence can ruin relationships, homes and families. Victims suffer from unimaginable physical and emotional injuries. When you have been the victim of domestic violence, it is essential that you understand the legal options available to you in New York. Likewise, the specter of false allegations of domestic abuse can similarly ruin one’s life.
Our team of Suffolk County family violence lawyers at the Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg, P.C. are here to explain your rights and guide you through the process of your domestic violence case. Starting from the initial consultation, we develop a strategy for litigating your domestic violence case in Suffolk County. Call us today to schedule your free consultation for a Suffolk County Domestic Violence case at (631) 600-3295 or contact us through our intake form.