What New York Courts Handle Orders of Protection for Family?

People dealing with allegations involving domestic violence, concerning family, as defined under New York law, whether as the victim or the accused, have different forums in New York that they might find handling their case.  Family can be blood relations, people with children in common, and people in intimate relationships.  Please call or see our other blog entries or website for more information on what is defined as a family under New York Law.

Orders of protection may be granted to protect a spouse and/or children by the Supreme Court as part of a divorce or matrimonial proceedings.  An order of protection case, aka a Family Offense, might be started in the Family Courts.  Unlike when someone receives an order of protection through a criminal court, a Family Offense proceeding is not about crime and punishment.  The Supreme Court, Family Courts and the Criminal courts, however, can order incarceration if orders of protection are violated.

Usually orders of protection cases as part of a divorce or a family offense matter is about what type of order of protection, if any, should be in place such as a full stay away order of protection or a more limited order of protection.  Orders of protection are often resolved in the family court by an agreement for an order of protection, without an admission, for a period of time whether it is for a year, six months, two years or longer if there are aggravating circumstances.  The protected party might end up being the person who started the Family Offense proceeding or the petitioner and/or his or her children.

If there is not an agreement then a Family Offense must be shown by a preponderance of evidence in order for an order of protection to remain.  If the petitioner does not prove their case then it must be dismissed.  Cases can be dismissed prior to trial if the allegations in the petition, on its face do not make out a Family Offense.  Proving or defending a case at trial is a challenging endeavor as the rules of evidence apply and are tricky even for lawyers to navigate.  Therefore, whichever side of the case a person may be on, effective representation can be crucial.

Criminal courts also can handle domestic violence cases.  People can be charged with violations, misdemeanors, or felonies involving accusations of domestic violence.  The alleged victim in this instance is not the person who has to pursue the case rather a prosecutor does it.  The accuser usually needs to be the witness for the prosecution.  Like Family Court, many of these cases are resolved by agreements of sorts or plea deals.  If the case is not resolved ahead of time, either because it is dismissed or a plea deal made, these cases too will proceed to trial.

The burden of proof however in criminal cases, unlike Family Offense proceedings, is beyond a reasonable doubt.  If there is a conviction, then the court must decide an appropriate punishment which might involve fines, probation, jail, programs, or a combination of them.

Another place that people in family relationships embroiled in domestic violence cases may find themselves dealing with their issues in the Integrated Domestic Violence Court or IDV courts.  The criteria for cases to be selected for possible referral to the IDV part is that a family needs to have a domestic violence case in a criminal court and either a divorce or matrimonial case and/or a family court matter going on.  Either the alleged victim in the criminal matter or the defendant needs to be involved in the family court or matrimonial matter.   The IDV part is located in the Supreme Courts.  If selected for the IDV part, each case from the different courts then get pulled into one courtroom to attempt to help resolve the issues for the family.  Orders of protection are commonly a facet involved in these cases.

For more information about orders of protection, family law, and matrimonial matters please click around this blog and see our website.  Our firm has experience handling orders of protection in Supreme Court, Family Court, Criminal Courts and the Integrated Domestic Violence part. Call about a free consultation.  We always would welcome hearing from you.

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