Domestic violence and New York law

Domestic violence is a concern for victims, offenders and society. Often times, many individuals do not even realize that they are victims of domestic violence or that they are inflicting domestic violence on others. Understanding domestic violence, the present laws and what to do may prove to be imperative.

Recent changes to New York domestic violence laws

New York is working to change the all-too-common problem of domestic violence within the state. To do this, a new law titled the Domestic Violence Law of Aggravated Family Offense has recently gone into effect.

According to WWNY TV, a 23-year-old man was arrested on March 15 for allegedly violating a protective order placed on him by his girlfriend. This man had been convicted of criminal mischief twice before, which is a crime covered under the new law.

The new law creates a Class E felony for aggravated family offenses. It allows law enforcement to prosecute as a felony an individual who has a prior conviction of domestic violence offenses within the last five years. Law enforcement officials reportedly believe in the new law and are confident that it will help curb patterns of behavior. Many are hopeful that the prospect of a felony will keep victims safe. The maximum penalty for a felony is four years in a state prison.

Understanding domestic violence

The United States Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women defines domestic violence as a "pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner." This definition includes many forms of abuse.

The most recognizable forms of domestic violence are physical and sexual abuse. Physical abuse includes hitting, battering, burning, cutting or any type of physical violent behavior inflicted on another person. Sexual abuse includes coercing another into having sexual contact that they do not consent to, or demeaning another person in a sexual way.

Other forms of domestic abuse include emotional abuse, economic abuse, psychological abuse, threats, cyberstalking and stalking. Each of these threatens a victim in a different way, but all can prove damaging.

Victims of domestic abuse

Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse does not strictly exist between a husband and wife. Spouses, cohabitants, parents, children, family members, and sexual or dating partners can all be victims of domestic abuse. Protective orders are available to victims and can help place distance between the parties involved.

Being a victim or being accused of domestic violence

A person who is a victim of domestic violence needs the help of an experienced family law attorney who can provide the means to achieve a protective order and safety. Similarly, a person who is accused of domestic violence is still entitled to options and protections in order to ensure individual rights. Whether a victim or someone accused of domestic violence, all individuals should speak with an attorney to discuss their legal options.