This past week proved busy for the attorneys at Crotty Saland PC and demonstrative of the multiple hats we wear as criminal defense lawyers, Family Court lawyers, and victim advocates. Secured a future dismissal and return of an heirloom firearm belonging to a client after a felony arrest? Yes. Successfully argued for the dismissal of multiple allegations in an Article 8 Family Offense petition seeking an Order of Protection? Yes, again. Successfully presented a case to a District Attorney’s Office for investigation and prosecution? Yes, once more.
While a Domestic Violence arrest is far more troubling than being served with a non-criminal Order of Protection issued by a New York Family Court Judge, when the foundation of either claim is fraudulent, fictitious, exaggerated or intentionally misleading, it is both debilitating and demoralizing. Simply, whether at the legal sufficiency stage or at a fact-finding hearing or trial, fighting back and taking it to your accuser within the four corners of the law is your best recourse for full exoneration. Fortunately, for a client subject to a complete Stay Away Order after a sibling filed an Article 8 Family Offense Petition, Crotty Saland PC’s Family Court attorneys and Order of Protection lawyers secured a complete dismissal of the action in its entirety upon the filing of a motion to dismiss.
Orders of Protection are issued in the criminal courts of every county throughout the State of New York every day, from Brooklyn to Westchester, Manhattan to Rockland. They are issued primarily by Family Courts in the context of Family Offense Petitions and Criminal Court or County/Supreme Court in the context of criminal cases. Orders of Protection are often misunderstood or not fully understood, not only by those they are meant to restrict and protect, but by law enforcement officers, child protective services, probation officers, and other people in the field. Add to this to the unfortunate reality that Restraining Orders are sometimes misused by those they are mean to protect. Even if not anywhere near the majority of cases, claimed victims sometimes proactively use these Stay Away Orders to illegitimately get the restricted party arrested or otherwise benefit themselves beyond the intent of the issuance.
With the above in mind, this blog entry briefly addresses the bare bones pleading requirement for misdemeanor Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree, New York Penal Law 215.50.
Our client, previously convicted of Fourth Degree Criminal Mischief, was sentenced in 2015 to a conditional discharge. Further, as part of the disposition of a case involving, among other allegations, Criminal Possession of a Weapon and Menacing, the Court issued a five year Order of Protection in favor of a cab driver despite the fact that the complainant and our client were strangers. After moving out of New York State and pursuing a new career, the Restraining Order, not the underlying conviction, began to cause our client issues because it appeared on background checks. Wanting to secure relief from the Order of Protection that functionally served no purpose to protect an unknown person in a state where our client did not reside, the client reached out to the criminal lawyers at Crotty Saland PC to vacate the Order of Protection.
How do I get an Order of Protection in New York? Do I have to go to the police, such as the NYPD, to apply for a Restraining Order? What are the steps and whatever they may be, am I eligible for a Stay Away Order? All reasonable questions, the answer to whether you are entitled to an Oder of Protection (“entitled” may or may not be the correct word in this context) and whether a judge will issue one depends on many factors. Before briefly addressing the answer to your questions in this blog entry, and discussing further with your attorney should you determine you are a candidate for a Restraining Order in New York, keep the following in mind. A Restraining Order, Stay Away Order and Order of Protection are different names for the same order issued by a court. No matter what you call this mechanism to protect you from another person, in the State and City of New York, there are generally two avenues to secure an Order of Protection. A Criminal Court Judge can issue a Restraining Order after the arrest and during the arraignment of a criminal defendant and Family Court Judge can issue an order in a civil proceeding pursuant to the New York State Family Court Act Article 8.
The questions is a common one. “How do I get an Order of Protection in New York?” “Who can get a Restraining Order in NYC?” “Do you need a lawyer to get an Order of Protection?” Before answering these questions, know the following. Family Offense Petitions in New York Family Courts, pursuant to New York Family Court Act Article 8, are some of the most frequently dismissed petitions on technical grounds – most commonly, failure to state a cause of action, or “facial insufficiency.” This essentially means that the Petitioner, the person making the allegation and the one seeking an Order of Protection, aka, Restraining Order, has failed to allege facts that make out one of the many enumerated offenses that constitute a Family Offense. Simply, if you are frightened for your well-being to the point where you commence a legal action whether its in New York City or the Hudson Valley, you will either ensure it is done correctly or deal with the potentially tragic consequences of not engaging an NYC Order of Protection lawyer to ensure the same.
NY Family Court Orders of Protection: Court’s Initial Legal Standard and Review
Whether you have asked it of a New York Family Court attorney, criminal defense lawyer or merely thought it to yourself, if you are a victim of abuse you have likely pondered how you can get an Order of Protection. What steps must you take to keep your abuser away and how do you start the process of protecting yourself with the assistance of the court system? While not an easy answer, when boiled down to its core, there are generally two avenues you can pursue to secure a Restraining Order or Stay Away Order in New York. One begins in the New York Family Court and the other with the police or District Attorney. Not mutually exclusive, the former does not mandate an arrest while the latter requires law enforcement’s involvement. This blog entry, as a follow up to an earlier article addressing other questions, identifies frequently asked questions so you, as a petitioner in a Family Court Article 8 proceeding or complainant in a criminal case, can obtain the basic information you need to have informed conversations with the lawyer you ultimately retain.
New York Orders of Protection, also called Restraining Orders and Stay Away Orders, are critical tools to protect the beneficiary of such an order from alleged or convicted harassers, domestic abusers, stalkers and other victimizers. Irrespective of who an Order of Protection shields, there are many questions that those unfamiliar with both New York Family Court Law and New York Penal Law will need answered before retaining the right criminal lawyer or Family Court attorney to assist them in the respective Restraining Order process. First and foremost, who can get a Restraining Order in New York State? How can you get an Order of Protection in New York City and the Hudson Valley? What does a Stay Away Order actually do for the recipient? Simply, there are countless questions that any crime victim or domestic violence petitioner must address to determine if and how they can protect themselves with an Order of Protection and why he or she needs an attorney to facilitate the legal process. Addressed in this blog entry, as well as additional articles, these questions include:
- What is an Order of Protection and Restraining Order?
- Where do I go to file a petition for a New York Order of Protection?
- How do I get a Family Court Order of Protection in New York?
- Can anyone get an Order of Protection or Restraining Order?
- Will the recipient of an Order of Protection have to move out of our home?
- Is a Order of Protection issued in New York only valid in New York?
- What is the duration or length of an Order of Protection?
- Will an Order of Protection appear or show up on an employment or background check?
- Is it a crime to violate an Order of Protection?
- Can I drop an Order of Protection if I decide I do not want it anymore?
Only some of the relatively common questions asked by both petitioners in Family Court Order of Protection proceedings and victims in any number of New York’s Criminal Courts, it is critical to understand the different types of and processes involved in securing New York Restraining Orders, Stay Away Orders and Orders of Protection.
Orders or Protection are perhaps the most frequent basis for Criminal Contempt charges in New York. Such charges and criminal cases have become so routine, that the actual complaints charging a defendant with such an offense can become so pro forma as to become almost meaningless. However, the accusations in even the simplest, most routine criminal complaint are of critical importance to a New York Criminal Contempt arrest and case. One way in which a person can violate the terms of a typical Order of Protection is by going to the protected person’s home. This can even include standing outside the front door of the protected person’s apartment building. Irrespective of the context, it is possible that the protected person is not willing to cooperate with law enforcement, and did not want the defendant arrested in the first place. In that scenario, the prosecution will often attempt to rely on other witnesses to the crime, such as family, friends, bystanders or police officers. However, this can often create gaps and shortcomings in information and support for the allegations, which can manifest themselves in the criminal complaints themselves. This was precisely the situation presented to the trial Court in People v. Friedman, 48 Misc.3d 817 (Queens Co. Crim Ct. 2015).
New York Penal Law 240.75 is a section of New York’s criminal law that is somewhat of an unknown in the non-legal community. There is much support behind the concept that if you repeatedly commit and are convicted of domestic violence crimes or family offenses, at some point an order of protection and some degree of incarceration in a local or county jail is not enough.
To combat this concern, New York State created the crime of Aggravated Family Offense pursuant to New York Penal Law 240.75. Whether your New York domestic violence lawyer advises you on this statute or you missed the opportunity and you are standing before a criminal court judge for sentencing, know that your exposure on this class “E” felony is quite serious. In fact, what was only a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in a county jail can no be a felony with a potential sentence of up to four years “upstate.” If you have a prior felony regardless of whether its violent, domestic or white collar and you were convicted of that offense in the prior ten years, because Aggravated Family Offenses are class “E” felonies, a conviction would not merely be as great as four years, but you would also face a mandatory one and a half to three years in prison. Regardless, living within the confines of the New York State or local county department of corrections for any period of time is a miserable way to tick away the days of your life.