Insights from an NYC Domestic Violence Lawyer

Domestic violence charges make life very difficult.

Your relationships could fall apart. You could have to abruptly find a new home. On top of all of that, if you are convicted you could get a criminal record and go to jail.

However, people often get falsely accused of domestic violence, and the cases can be very difficult for the prosecution to prove.

If you’ve been charged with domestic violence in New York City, contact experienced NYC domestic violence lawyer Cody Warner. He can analyze your case and strategize about how to get your domestic violence charges dismissed.

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. 

The court labels a crime as domestic violence when it involves: 

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

The most commonly charged crimes in domestic violence cases are:  


Assault occurs when you intentionally or recklessly cause physical injury to another person. By far, the most common domestic violence charge is Assault in the Third Degree P.L. § 120.00.


Another very common domestic violence charge is Harassment. The most commonly charged harassment charges are P.L. § 240.26 and P.L. § 240.30. These offenses occur if you engage in certain conduct intended to annoy or threaten the victim.

Prohibited conduct can include:

  • Shoving
  • Kicking
  • Slapping
  • Threats to injure
  • Threatening communications 


Stalking occurs when a person intentionally engages in a course of conduct directed at another person that is likely to cause a reasonable fear of harm. Such conduct can include following a person around. It can also include repeated unwanted contact via telephone, email, or other means.

Stalking charges often involve former romantic partners. One partner makes repeated attempts to get back together with the alleged victim. The partner is simply following his heart. However, the alleged victim wants no communication from the partner. If the alleged victims calls the police, the partner could face stalking charges.

Although the conduct towards the alleged victim can be unwanted, oftentimes the prosecution is unable to prove its case. The prosecution must prove that the accused reasonably should have known that the conduct was likely to cause a reasonable fear of harm. If the prosecution cannot prove that, then the charges should be dropped.

Criminal Contempt

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.

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 renounce the order of protection and contact the accused.

However, 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

If you engage in conduct that creates substantial risk of serious physical harm, the prosecution may charge you with Reckless Endangerment. 

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. In addition to a criminal record and jail time, you may have to register as a sex offender.

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

If you are facing a domestic violence charge in New York City, you can retain an experienced New York domestic violence attorney to review your case and determine your best possible defense. Some possible defense strategies include:

Insufficient Evidence 

Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that domestic violence actually occurred. They must prove all the specific elements of the offenses you have allegedly committed. Experienced NYC domestic violence lawyers can evaluate your case to determine whether the prosecution can prove all necessary elements of the charges. 

Biased Witness with Motives to Lie

False accusations are common in highly adversarial, emotionally charged cases. Many domestic violence charges are based on one person’s desire to hurt the accused or win a family law matter. Alleged victims may have many motives to lie. Common motives to lie include:

  • Winning a contested divorce proceeding
  • Getting child custody in family court
  • Exacting revenge for a perceived wrongdoing
  • Obtaining an order of protection to kick you out of your shared home

An experienced lawyer can show the jury all the reasons why the alleged victim is biased and cannot be trusted.


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 lawyers 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.  

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 Attorney 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 our law firm today.

NYC Domestic Violence Lawyer 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 abuse. 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 abuse, 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 doesn’t want a restraining order, the defendant’s 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 and criminally charged. 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.