Many believe that incidents involving domestic violence are often part of a continuing pattern of abuse, which involves the continuation and sometimes the escalation of violence. The New York City Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence reports that over a third of battered women will be subject to additional abuse within six months.
Up to this point, most domestic violence cases (that is, cases not involving “serious” injury or death) have generally been prosecuted as third degree assault and other misdemeanor offenses.
In order to attempt to strengthen the domestic violence laws, Governor Cuomo has signed into law a bill creating a new domestic violence crime: Aggravated Family Offense. It applies to multiple offenders who commit certain offenses within a five year period against members of the same family or household. Offenses subject to the new law include, among others, criminal contempt, assault, strangulation, rape and menacing. It is a felony carrying the possibility of up to four years in prison, with a minimum sentence of five years’ probation.
Here is how the law will work. In the case of assault in the third degree, the charge is based upon PL 120.00, which provides:
“1. With intent to cause physical injury to another person, he causes such injury to such person or to a third person; or
2. He recklessly causes physical injury to another person; or
3. With criminal negligence, he causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument.
Assault in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor.”
Under prior law, multiple prosecutions of assault in a family or household setting were prosecuted as misdemeanors, even in the case where it happened over and over again. The new law provides that an assault (among other offenses) against a family or household member, where the defendant has been convicted of a qualifying offense within the past five years, constitutes a felony, carrying the penalties mentioned above.
We understand that family violence is a growing problem. On the other hand, the evidence in many domestic violence cases consists of little more one person’s word against another. Accordingly, if you have been charged with a domestic violence offense, contact an experienced New York domestic violence attorney to protect your interests.
George Vomvolakis Law Offices
275 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016