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Defining Domestic Violence Terms: NY Social Services Law 459-a

There are some critically important legal terms or definitions that you and your New York Domestic Violence lawyer must be aware of whether you are accused of a Third Degree Assault or Second Degree Aggravated Harassment. The most important of these is "family or household members" as codified in Social Services Law 459-a. It is this wording that is often central to these prosecutions in New York City, the Hudson Valley and beyond.

Defined pursuant to New York Social Services Law 459-a, “family or household members” are those individuals who are capable of being victims of Domestic Violence as opposed to victims of “regular” crimes. Obviously, should the accused or the complainant be a stranger or random person in the subway, bar or supermarket, the Domestic Violence rules and regulations will have no impact on the criminal case. However, should the victim of a crime or the individual being arrested fall into the following categories, then a New York criminal lawyer will have additional issues with which to contend.

"Family or household members" mean the following individuals:

  1. Brothers, sisters, children, cousins, nieces, nephews and other people who are related either by consanguinity or affinity;
  2. any person who is legally married to their spouse;
  3. ex-spouses, divorced spouses and other people previously married to one another whether or not they actually reside in the same house;
  4. all people who have a child in common whether or not those people were legally married or ever resided together at any point;
  5. unrelated persons who are continually or at regular intervals living in the same household or who have in the past continually or at regular intervals lived in the same household;
  6. persons who are not related by consanguinity or affinity and who are or have been in an intimate relationship regardless of whether such persons have lived together at any time. Factors that may be considered in determining whether a relationship is an "intimate relationship" include, but are not limited to: the nature or type of relationship, regardless of whether the relationship is sexual in nature; the frequency of interaction between the persons; and the duration of the relationship. Neither a casual acquaintance nor ordinary fraternization between two individuals in business or social contexts shall be deemed to constitute an "intimate relationship";

The definitions above make it overwhelmingly clear that New York Assistant District Attorneys and their partners in the police department have the ability to roll many “regular” cases into the more strictly prosecuted Domestic Violence crimes. With this, your case will receive greater scrutiny, often be handled by a prosecutor and supervisor trained in handling family violence crimes and routinely managed in a way that may limit potential dispositions.

Whether the evidence is strong or a complete fabrication by a former partner with an agenda, New York Domestic Violence cases do not just “go away.” Protect yourself and your family. Identify your best defense. Do not wait until you are incarcerated or saddled with a criminal record. Contact the New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law now.

Call the New York criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan domestic violence prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today

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