You won’t find domestic violence listed as an offense when you scroll through the statutes of New York — but that doesn’t mean that a domestic dispute won’t lead to legal trouble under one of several “family offense” codes.
Here in New York, you could be charged with one of several penal offenses, depending on what your accuser alleges.
What is a family offense?
Specific crimes become a “family offense” if the person accusing you is someone with whom you have or had a close relationship. Here are some of the crimes most people would consider domestic violence and a New York court could treat as a family offense:
- Things of a sexual nature: Being married or in a relationship with someone does not mean you have free access to their body. What you thought was foreplay might land you in trouble.
- Physical violence: This is what most people think of as domestic violence — one person hitting, pushing or kicking the other. If you can show this was necessary because your spouse was about to knock you out with the rolling pin, you may be able to claim self-defense.
- Checking up on someone: You may have reason to suspect your partner is stealing from you or seeing someone else. Yet, you need to take great care not to invade their privacy. They could accuse you of stalking if they discover you have been following them or checking their messages.
- Taking your frustration out on inanimate objects: You discover your husband is having an affair and write him a message with a screwdriver on the bonnet of his beloved classic car. He could accuse you of criminal mischief for damaging his property.
Whatever the charge against you, you could get a criminal record if convicted. Even if things never get to court, a domestic violence accusation can have serious consequences that are hard to retract once set in play. Do not think this is something that you can sort out on your own.