Arrested On a Domestic Violence Charge in New York?

If you have been arrested for a domestic violence crime in New York, do not panic.  Despite often carrying very serious penalties with sometimes painful personal and professional ramifications, these charges can be often be defeated through intensive investigation well before the trial stage, due to certain factors specific to these types of cases.  To start, domestic violence itself is not a criminal charge: the crimes usually associated with domestic violence incidents often include Assault, Harassment and Stalking.  The various assault charges contained in the New York Penal Law (NYPL §§ 120.00, 120.05 and 120.10) can rise as high as a B felony and as low as a misdemeanor – the range comes with potential jail time from up to 25 years down to probation.  In this post, I’ll give you some thoughts and ideas on what to do if charged with a domestic violence-related charge in New York. 

Domestic Violence Cases Come with Heavy Penalties — But Such Cases Can Be Tough to Prove.  Do Not Help the Prosecutor

Despite the potentially very serious penalties, the typical domestic violence charge is usually made after an argument turns physical between spouses or partners.  When the officers respond to the 911 call which is often made in the heat of the moment, an arrest is required to be made no matter how much the complainant may have cooled down by then and begs to “not press charges.”  So in many domestic violence cases, the only witness/evidence to the allegation of a crime has already recanted at the time of arrest.  Additionally, the domestic violence complainant is often inherently biased: a divorce action may be already started and the complainant can be perceived as trying to gain an advantage by fabricating a largely unsupported allegation of violence.  For these reasons, a domestic violence charge is often very difficult to prove; after all, the only evidence supporting the allegation is often a biased, emotional witness who admittedly hates the defendant.

Without an admission from the defendant – either in the form of a confession or recorded action – the prosecutor is left with physical evidence of an attack and perhaps either history of abuse which can be proven or witnesses to the violence in the form of neighbors or relatives.  Because this sort of additional evidence is not always available, law enforcement will often be desperate to get an admission out of the accused.  Officers can and will lie to the accused: “Just tell us what happened and we won’t arrest you.”  In many other instances I have been asked by prosecutors post-arrest to just bring my client down to meet with them and perhaps they will consider dropping the charges. In both scenarios, this is an utter, amateurish mistake.  The officers and prosecutors recognize the weakness in the case and are hopeful that the accused or his lawyer will be desperate enough to think that the case will be dismissed – if only they can talk their way out of it.  Do not make this mistake as you will be playing directly into the hands of the very people who wish to convict you.

Some Recent Examples of How Best To Fight Domestic Violence Cases 

In two of my recent cases this sort of urgent request was made: once, in a date rape case charged as a B felony Rape pursuant to NYPL § 130.35, the prosecutor asked if she could meet with my investment banker client to “hear his side of the story.”  I refused and a year later the case was reduced on a plea to a non-sex misdemeanor which had no impact on the defendant’s career – and this was AFTER the arresting officers had already secured a taped confession.  Instead of potentially harming the case during a meeting with the prosecutor, we conducted a massive investigation of the complainant and found her story not only full of holes but that she had a history of lying about financial issues – and this was after she sued my client civilly in connection with her rape allegations.

In a more recent case, a doctor I represented was charged with Assault in the Second Degree pursuant to NYPL § 120.05 after allegedly stabbing his wife.  The prosecutor insisted she meet with the defendant before considering reducing the charges for a plea, recognizing her leverage that a conviction would cost him his medical license.  Again, over the loud objections of the prosecutor, I refused as it was clear to me after our investigation that the wife had lied in order to gain an advantage in their ongoing divorce litigation.  About one month later the prosecutor dismissed the case completely when I made clear that we would never agree to any plea deal and instead would insist upon a trial.

Contact a Top New York or Connecticut Domestic Violence Law Firm Today

So when arrested on domestic violence charges, the most important thing is to hire the best New York domestic violence attorney you can find; the strategies used by prosecutors in New York City, Long Island, Westchester or Rockland counties or Connecticut are the same: get the defendant to incriminate him or herself in order to bolster a weak case.  Also, you should ensure that your lawyer conducts a massive investigation of the complainant, including reviewing public filings/lawsuits as well as social media: you would be surprised what alleged victims leave on social media which can destroy their credibility.  If all the investigation does not add up to enough to get your case dismissed, make certain you have an attorney who can actually try and win important domestic violence trials; after all, a conviction could cost you not only your career or your children but your freedom as well.  Call the New York domestic violence attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman today to discuss your case.