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Domestic Violence & the Law in New York

Domestic violence is a common and widespread problem that affects households across the United States. While some may believe that it only affects uneducated or low-income families, this is not the case. Domestic violence impacts thousands of New York residents each year, and it affects families from all different religions, races, sexual orientations, educations, and socioeconomic classes.

How does the state define domestic violence? If you thought it just referred to punching and kicking, it goes far beyond that. According to the New York Courts, domestic violence is a “pattern” of coercive tactics, such as physical, sexual and emotional abuse that’s acted out by an adult intimate partner against the other. The goal of domestic violence is to gain power and control over one’s victim.

Under New York’s domestic violence laws, if someone is a victim of domestic violence, or if such a person has been threatened with abuse, the victim can go to court and ask the judge for what is called an order of protection. What the order of protection does is order the abuser to stop the abuse, and prohibit him or her from threatening or causing physical harm to the victim.

What can an order of protection do?

When the court issues an order of protection at the request of the abused, it limits the behavior of the person who is being abusive. The order of protection has many functions, all of which are aimed at increasing the victim’s safety and decreasing their vulnerability.

An order of protection can be issued by any of the following: 1) the family courts, 2) the criminal courts, or 3) from the Supreme Courts. Here are some examples of what an order of protection can direct an abuser to do:

  • Stay away from the victim and their children
  • Not contact the victim
  • Stay away from the victim’s place of employment
  • Not speak to or contact the victim
  • Stay away from the children’s school
  • Move out of the family’s home
  • Relinquish their firearms
  • Not buy or acquire any guns
  • Pay child support
  • Follow child custody orders made by the court

A family court order of protection is issued during a civil proceeding and the purpose of this order is to stop family violence, or violence within an intimate relationship.

A criminal court order of protection is typically issued after the defendant has been arrested for something such as spousal or child abuse, and the court issues the order as a condition of the abuser’s release from custody.

Criminal court orders of protection are only issued by the court when the defendant (abuser) has been officially charged with a crime.

Supreme Court orders of protection can be issued when a couple has filed for divorce. If you’ve filed for divorce and wish to have an order of protection, an attorney from our firm can make a written or oral request on your behalf.

Or, if someone is attempting to get an order of protection against you, we can represent you in court and fight for your rights.

Whether you’re looking to file an order of protection or contest one, a Schenectady attorney from our firm can help you. Call today for an initial consultation!