The Law Offices of John Ferrara

What Should I Do If Domestic Violence Charges Are Filed Against Me?


First, get counsel, and do not speak with the police. Your conversation with the police creates evidence, and it might be this evidence that convicts you. When the police say “you have the right to remain silent” use that right, and yes, remain silent.

When you speak with your attorney formulate a strategy. These are always case specific and depend on your goals. These may be remedial which may require counseling, either for substance abuse or for anger issues. But they may also be to fight false charges. These may require the interviewing of witnesses or explanations for the evidence against you.

Third, one must investigate. We need to gather facts to support our theory of the event. Did the alleged victim exaggerate to gain leverage in a custody dispute or to gain exclusive occupancy of the marital residence throughout the lengthy divorce process? Are there other explanations? And what evidence can we find to support our theory?

Fourth, we need to get ready for trial. We need to prepare our witnesses to testify. We need to arrange for our evidence to be at the courtroom at the time of the trial.

Meanwhile, if the court issued a temporary order of protection, whether justly or unjustly, you must obey it to the letter. Many times one wins the original charge, but loses the case because he violated the order of protection while the case was pending. Jail for violating the temporary order of protection looks allot like jail for being convicted of the original offense. Obey the temporary order of protection to the letter.

What Are The Potential Defenses That May Be Used In Domestic Violence Cases?

The most common defense is that the allegations did not occur or are highly exaggerated. It is not uncommon for domestic violence claims to arise as the parties contemplate divorce or custody litigation. Did the domestic violence occur due to the increased stress that follows from these considerations? Or did a false claim of domestic violence occur to gain an advantage in the litigation? Both are possible, and the courts will need to sort out which applies in an individual case.

Self-defense (justification in New York) has been used. Certainly in the criminal courts, it has been used successfully in the right case.

One rarely can use an identification defense in one of these cases. Common sense tells you the actors are well known to one another.

When the family offense is just hurtful words, sometimes a first amendment argument may work.

The fact is that the defenses are normally closely connected to the facts of the case which requires the lawyer to learn the facts completely from his or her client.

Why Is It Critical To Hire An Experienced Attorney To Handle A Domestic Violence Case?

These are often cases that require a careful threading of the needle. Handled incorrectly what was a problem becomes a large problem. Emotions are normally high. A calming influence at the right time can prevent escalation of a difficult situation, and eventually bring things to a more normal volume.

These are also cases where the motivations of the actors may differ from their stated purposes. Figuring that out is normally not difficult. But using that to the client’s advantage in negotiations or in trial is never straightforward. A genuine victim might exaggerate. She remains a genuine victim, so a full throttled attack on her exaggerations may be ineffective if the fact finder feels sympathy for her. But simply peeling away of her false claims, and leaving it to the fact finder to draw the ultimate conclusion (lying about one major subject leads to distrust on all subjects) may be more effective. Knowing the fact finder and how he or she thinks and feels from prior cases informs an experienced attorney how to most effectively exploit witness exaggerations.

Finally, and this could be hard to hear, telling a client what he or she needs to know, even when it is the last thing he or she wants to be told, is sometimes a requirement in this business. We are all reluctant to hear that we acted poorly and that we need to take difficult steps to avoid even worse consequences. An experienced lawyer can confront a client when necessary and have the confidence to tell him what he does not want to hear, but what he needs to hear, to best serve his long terms interests.

For more information on Steps To Take In A Domestic Violence Case, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (845) 794-1303 today.

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(845) 794-1303

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