NYC Domestic Violence Lawyer Cody Warner Discusses Domestic Violence Laws 

A domestic violence charge can cause considerable damage to your reputation, and it can destroy your relationships with your friends and family. A criminal conviction for domestic violence can impact your career and make it difficult to find future employment. An experienced NYC domestic violence lawyer can strategically handle your case to ensure that you get the best possible outcome.

Types of Domestic Violence in NYC

There is no specific “domestic violence” crime in New York. Instead, “domestic violence” is a legal classification that increases the severity of certain offenses that occur within the context of a domestic relationship. 

An NYC domestic violence lawyer can assess whether your relationship to the alleged victim is sufficient for domestic violence designations to apply in your case. Generally, a domestic violence designation occurs when an incident involves violence toward a spouse or child, as well as the following:

  • Unmarried people in committed relationships (boyfriends and girlfriends)
  • Former romantic relationships (ex-boyfriend/girlfriend and former spouses)
  • Parents

Many domestic violence charges involve people who used to be in a relationship and no longer live together. The charges can arise from allegations of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, as well as threatening behavior, stalking, and harassment. Each domestic violence charge has its own unique elements that must be proven by the prosecution in order for you to be convicted. An NYC domestic violence lawyer can evaluate the prosecution’s case, identify what they can and can’t prove, and introduce evidence that supports your innocence. 

Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct is the least serious domestic violence charge you can face. You can be charged with disorderly conduct under P.L. 240.20 for something as simple as getting into an argument with your spouse. And while a conviction may only be a violation on your record, just the charge can do considerable harm to your reputation. 


One of the most common domestic violence charges is assault. Although many assault statutes require you to intend to cause physical injury, you can also be charged with assault if the prosecution can prove that you acted recklessly.


Harassment and aggravated harassment are charged in domestic violence cases where the defendant is accused of engaging in conduct that is intended to annoy or threaten the victim. It can include physical contact such as shoving but also the threat of such behavior. Aggravated harassment often involves using the telephone, email, or other written means. 


Generally speaking, stalking occurs when a person intentionally engages in a course of conduct directed at another person and the person knows or reasonably should know that the conduct is likely to cause a reasonable fear of harm in the other person. Stalking can include following them or engaging in repeated contact via the telephone, email, or other means.

Stalking charges in the domestic violence context can sometimes be very difficult for the prosecution to prove. Often, stalking charges involve situations where the alleged victim recently broke up with the accused, who is devastated and distraught from losing a partner. The accused then makes repeated attempts to persuade the alleged victim to reconsider their relationship. Although the accused thinks that he or she is acting in a respectable way that’s no different than a protagonist in a romantic comedy film, the alleged victim is bothered and is willing to call the police to get the former partner to stop. Although the conduct towards the alleged victim can certainly be unwanted, oftentimes the prosecution is unable to prove that the accused reasonably should have known that the conduct was likely to cause a reasonable fear of harm.

If you have been accused of stalking, contact an NYC domestic violence lawyer to make sure your case is strategically handled.

Criminal Contempt

A common domestic violence charge, criminal contempt, occurs when a person knowingly violates an order of protection issued by the court. Orders of protection are often issued immediately after a person is arrested for an offense like harassment or assault. If the court orders you to stay away from a specific person but you then intentionally contact that person, then you could be found guilty of criminal contempt.

Contempt charges are particularly problematic because an aggrieved and vindictive former domestic partner can call the police and allege that you made contact and violated the order of protection even when you didn’t do so. The domestic partner may say you called on a burner phone or came by and knocked on the door. It’s sometimes very difficult for the prosecution to successfully prove a criminal contempt charge.

Importantly, only the court can remove an order of protection. It’s common for an alleged victim—for whom an order of protection was issued—to decide that he or she made a mistake by calling the police to report the initial incident. The alleged victim may personally renounce the order of protection and contact the accused. Then, if the accused and the alleged victim get into another argument, and someone calls the police, the accused will then face the serious charge of criminal contempt for violating the order of protection. The accused can be found guilty of criminal contempt even though the alleged victim contacted the accused and invited the accused to make contact. The accused can contact the alleged victim only if and when the court vacates the order of protection.

Reckless Endangerment

Another common domestic violence charge, which often involves children, is reckless endangerment. You can be charged with reckless endangerment for conduct that creates substantial risk of serious physical harm. 

Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to one year and a $1,000 fine if convicted. 

Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree is a Class D felony.  If convicted, you could face up to $5,000 in fines and seven years in prison or more if you have been convicted of a felony within the last ten years. 

Rape, Sexual Abuse, or Sexual Misconduct

Allegations involving sexual misconduct in the context of a domestic violence case are very serious. These types of charges can include a broad spectrum of conduct from penetrative sex to sexual touching. The penalties are severe if you are convicted, and the damage to your reputation and standing in your community can be devastating. If you are charged with such an offense, you should seek out an experienced NYC domestic violence lawyer who can assess your case and develop a comprehensive defense strategy. 

NYC Domestic Violence Lawyer Cody Warner Develops Strategic Defenses to Your Domestic Violence Arrest

If you are facing a domestic violence charge, you can retain an experienced NYC domestic violence lawyer like Cody to review your case and determine your best possible defense. Some possible defense strategies include:

Insufficient Evidence 

Prosecutors must prove all the specific elements of the offense you have allegedly committed. For instance, if your specific domestic violence charge includes the element of physical injury, yet the prosecution’s proof of physical injury relies only on the alleged victim’s word instead of objective proof, you may be able to successfully argue that the element of physical injury is not established. An experienced NYC criminal defense lawyer can evaluate your case to determine whether the prosecution can prove all necessary elements of the charges. 

Biased Witness with Motive to Lie

Many domestic violence charges are based on one person’s desire to hurt the accused. They may be attempting to sabotage your relationship with your children in the context of a divorce, or they may be trying to get revenge based on some other perceived wrongdoing. False accusations are common in highly adversarial, emotionally charged cases. In such cases, Cody can develop a defense that demonstrates that the alleged victim is biased against you and has a motive to lie to personally benefit or harm you. 


Everyone has a right to defend themselves when facing imminent physical harm. Unfortunately, many people who are charged with domestic violence offenses were simply protecting themselves or their children from the attacks of the alleged victim. It’s not uncommon for the police to arrive at a scene and arrest both participants in the fight. The police may not properly investigate who started the fight, as they see such an inquiry as a function of the court. In these cases, it’s critical to hire an experienced NYC domestic violence lawyer who can properly investigate your case to prepare a claim of self-defense. 

Wrong Suspect 

Some people are mistakenly charged with domestic violence when a child is injured and an aggrieved former partner attributes the injury to the accused. For example, your former spouse may notice bruises and other signs of abuse on your child and assume that it was you. Their accusation may be enough for you to be charged with a crime. In these situations, you may need to introduce alibi evidence that you were not with your child at the time the injury occurred. An NYC domestic violence lawyer can properly investigate your case and gather the necessary evidence to present your defense. 

Multiple Defenses 

In some cases, you may have more than one defense – for example, the prosecution may have insufficient evidence to prove injury, and the alleged victim is also fabricating the entire incident because of a bias and motive to lie. Cody is an NYC domestic violence lawyer who can assess your case, explain your options, and then develop the best possible combination of available defenses.  

Reach Out to NYC Domestic Violence Lawyer Cody Warner Today

NYC Domestic Violence Lawyer Cody Warner understands how overwhelming it can be when you are facing domestic abuse allegations, and he is ready to get started preparing the best strategy for your case. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and how Cody can help, contact him today.

NYC Domestic Violence FAQs

How Long Does Someone Stay in Jail for Domestic Violence in New York?

The length of time a person can go to jail for a domestic violence case in New York is dependent on the specific charges alleged. Most commonly, domestic violence is charged as Assault in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to one year in jail. However, sometimes domestic violence charges are less serious and the maximum sentence can be no more than ninety days in jail. On the other hand, sometimes the charges are serious, violent felonies that can result in prison sentences of many years.

Regardless of whether the charged crime is a misdemeanor or a felony, of utmost importance to the ultimate jail sentence are the facts of the case and whether the defendant has a history of domestic violence. For instance, if the defendant has no history of domestic abuse and the injuries to the victim are minimal, then the defendant’s lawyer can sometimes work out a deal where the defendant does not go to jail. On the other hand, if the defendant has a history of domestic violence and the victim was seriously harmed, then the likelihood of jail is much greater.

Of course, if a defendant is innocent, then he or she should not be getting any jail time, because the defendant’s attorney should be able to get the charges reduced or take the case to trial in front of a jury, if necessary.

What is the Punishment for Domestic Violence Cases?

The punishment when a person is convicted of a domestic violence includes both the sentence and the criminal conviction on the person’s record.

The sentence can include jailtime, especially if the particular offense resulted in serious injury to the victim and the defendant has a history of domestic violence. If the victim was not injured and the defendant does not have a history of domestic violence, then the defendant might not have to go to jail and must instead complete anger management or domestic violence programs.

Most domestic violence cases also involve an order of protection as a part of the defendant’s sentence. An order of protection requires you to stay away from and not communicate with the victim. In situations where the victim wants to live or communicate with the defendant, the defendant’s NYC domestic violence attorney may convince the judge to issue a limited, not full, order of protection. A limited order of protection allows the defendant to still live and communicate with the victim. If the defendant were to commit another crime against the victim, though, he or she would face enhanced charges due to the order of protection.

The punishment for domestic violence cases can also include getting a criminal record. However, if a defendant does not have a criminal record and the particulars of the case are not egregious, an experienced criminal defense attorney can sometimes convince the district attorney’s office to reduce the charges so that the defendant does not get a criminal record.

Do Domestic Abuse Cases Go to Court?

When an alleged victim accuses a person of domestic abuse, the case can end up in either family court or criminal court. Typically, a case will originate in criminal court if the alleged victim called the police and the defendant was arrested. On the other hand, if the alleged victim files a complaint in family court—for instance to get child custody—then allegations of domestic abuse may be handled in family court.

Regardless of whether a domestic abuse allegation is handled in family court or criminal court, an experienced lawyer can evaluate the legal claims and investigate the victim to help ensure that a defendant is not harmed by false allegations.