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According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the rate of domestic violence, especially among intimate partners, is alarmingly high. What is more shocking is that 70 % of domestic violence cases go unreported. If you have been a victim of domestic violence, you should seek the legal expertise of a domestic violence or criminal lawyer. The same case applies to persons who have been charged with domestic violence. An experienced criminal lawyer will explain your legal options and advise you on the best way forward. It is important to understand what constitutes domestic violence in the eyes of the law.
Domestic Violence Explained
Domestic violence is the term used to describe violent acts or threats that happen between people in a certain kind of relationship. They could be married, dating, or living together. These individuals may also have a child in common. The relationship can also be gay, lesbian or heterosexual. In most cases, domestic violence is mainly against women and children. Statistics by the CDC indicate that nearly a one-third of women have been victims of some form of domestic violence. While serious crimes such as rape and murder can still fall under domestic violence, in most cases, domestic violence involves lesser forms of abuse. This can include, pushing, slapping, hitting and less serious forms of physical abuse.
Long Island, New York Domestic Violence laws
New York, like most states, has its own regulations and laws with regard to domestic violence. In 1994, the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Intervention Act was passed in New York. Under this Act, the law enforcement agencies are required to respond to and treat domestic violence cases as criminal acts. New York also operates under the “mandatory arrest” laws. This means that the police are mandated to make arrests. However, for this law to apply, the aggressor must be from the same household or family. This applies to a person you are married to, have a child with or were married to.
New York family criminal courts and family courts share concurrent jurisdiction over domestic or family offenses. These offenses include assault, strangulation, sexual abuse or misconduct, and menacing. As a victim, you can file a civil charge in a family court, a criminal charge in a criminal court, or both. It is also your right as a victim to apply for a protection order. Either court can issue a restraining order to keep the defendant away from you and your children.
Charging and Prosecuting Domestic Violence Cases
The fact that most of these cases go unreported presents a unique challenge to the courts. Domestic violence carries shame, and this is why most people fail to report. Again, due to the intimate relationship that already exists between the aggressor and the victim, it becomes hard to report someone that you care about. Most people also assume that it was an isolated case and it will not happen again. In most cases, the victim depends on the aggressor financially, and she may not want to risk losing this support should the aggressor go to jail. While these are valid concerns, victims need to remember that a single slap today can lead to a more serious injury tomorrow. Seeking the help of a criminal or family attorney is also safeguarding the well-being of your children.
It is important for victims to keep in mind that if you report a domestic violence charge, you will most likely be required to testify. Lawyers and prosecutors find it hard because the victims are not willing to testify. The law grants a constitutional right to the defendant to cross examine the accusers. While the process can be challenging, a family or criminal lawyer will be with you throughout the process. When you engage the services of a lawyer, you need to be prepared to go the whole way. Otherwise, the case will be dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
Thousands of victims have received help and justice, and you could be one of them. Again, a domestic violence charge against your partner can give you more custody rights over your child in the event of a divorce.
The Need for Hiring a lawyer
Due to the relationship already existing between the victim and the aggressor, domestic violence lawsuits can be heated and emotional. Hiring a lawyer ensures that you remain objective and that you do not engage in any activity that could jeopardize your case. For instance, you will hurt your case if you embark on a revenge mission against your aggressor. You also need to remember that the defendant will also bring a case to explain their actions. In most cases, their objective will be to tarnish your image in the eyes of the judge. In light of this, you need an experienced criminal or family lawyer fighting for your best interests.