New York Family Court Act Article 8: Family Offenses

Family Offense, governed by New York Family Court Act Article 8, can be brought by one person against another who has an intimate or familial relationship with that person, or is similarly situated. The petition must allege one or more of the select crimes specified in the Family Court Act Section 812. Whether you're in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, or upstate in Rockland County or Westchester County, the most typical remedy for a Family Offense is the issuance of an Order of Protection, also called a Restraining Order, against the person who committed the crime.

Some of the most typical crimes found in Family Offense petitions are:

  • Third Degree Assault (NY PL 120.00) and Second Degree Assault (NY PL 120.05)
  • Third Degree Menacing (NY PL 120.15) and Second Degree Menacing (NY PL 120.14)
  • Second Degree Aggravated Harassment (NY PL 240.30)
  • Any Degree of Criminal Mischief including Fourth and Third Degree Criminal Mischief (NY PL 145.00 and NY PL 145.05)
  • Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation (NY PL 121.11)
  • Second Degree Harassment (NY PL 240.26) and First Degree Harassment (NY PL 25)
  • Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree (NY PL 120.20)
  • Strangulation in the First Degree (NY PL 121.13) and Strangulation in the Second Degree (NY PL 121.12)

The allegations in a Family Offense proceeding are directly related to criminal or violation charges in the New York State Penal Law, such as Harassment, PL 240.26, Aggravated Harassment, PL 240.30, Strangulation, PL 121.12, and Assault, PL 120.00. There are often criminal charges in a separate criminal court at the same time as the Family Offense petition. Handling two related cases simultaneously in Criminal Court and Family Court is something that not every attorney is prepared or willing to do but having a lawyer who can manage both closely related cases and the interplay between them can be critical. In fact, if the cases are in the same jurisdiction, such as Westchester County, New York County (Manhattan) or Kings County (Brooklyn), the both matters may be funneled to the Integrated Domestic Violence Court, or IDV Part.

Defending allegations contained in a Family Offense petition can be very different than negotiating for custody or visitation, and it often is more akin to a criminal trial than a civil case. That being said, there are many significant and important differences between a criminal prosecution and Family Offense petition, even where both cases are based on the same criminal charge or conduct. These key differences include the different standards of proof, beyond a reasonable doubt and preponderance of the evidence, as well as the identity of the entity that bears that burden of proof, the Petitioner or the Prosecutor.

Call the New York family law lawyers and former New York City prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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