One January night, a 40-year old man, who had been drinking, started a fight with his wife in their home. The wife said her husband called her names and attempted to get her to bed. When she refused, he hit and kicked her in the stomach and ripped off her blouse. The wife yelled for help but her husband turned up the volume of the television. The husband then ripped the phone out of the socket, breaking it, because the wife wanted to call the police. She continued to yell for help while the husband kicked her arms and hit her breast, nose and lips, causing her nose to swell and her lips to bleed. Eventually the building’s superintendent and the police arrived. As a result of the incident, the wife had bruises, had difficulty eating and breathing, and took Tylenol for her pain. Two orders of protection were issued by a criminal court.
A similar incident happed in April. That was when the wife filed a complaint against the husband charging him with the crimes of criminal contempt, harassment, assault, menacing, criminal mischief, and aggravation. The husband was indicted. He sought for its dismissal claiming that the evidence was not legally sufficient to establish the offenses as charged.
The court agreed with the husband’s assertion for some crimes, but disagreed for most crimes. Particularly, the court said the evidence was legally insufficient to sustain charges of criminal contempt.
On the issue of whether to dismiss the criminal mischief charge by twice breaking the telephone, the court asked whether the property damaged is jointly or co-owned by the husband with the wife. The court pointed out that a person can only be guilty of criminal mischief when, having no right to do so nor any reasonable ground to believe that he has such a right, he intentionally damages property of another person. Clearly one has no right to damage his or her spouse’s separate property. Destruction of marital or jointly owned property, however, presents a more complex issue. As the husband, in this case, has an equitable interest in the items he was charged with damaging, he could not be charged with criminal mischief in damaging or destroying the two telephones. Thus, the court dismissed the criminal mischief charge.
It was not long ago when crimes of domestic violence were viewed as a “private matter.” Heightened awareness of the problem in recent years has resulted in recognition of those crimes as a societal issue. The response has been a policy of mandatory arrest and prosecution of domestic violence crimes, even in the absence of willing complainants or any “complainant” at all. The state and federal legislatures as well as the executive branches have demonstrated their commitment in dealing with crimes of domestic violence by the enactment of recent legislation like The Family Protection and Domestic Violence Intervention Act of 1994 and the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.
Being a victim of domestic violence is difficult for all. There are New York Domestic Violence Attorneys who will stand by you and make sure you are aware of your rights and how to protect them. These Attorneys will argue your side and make sure you and your loved ones are compensated.
Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its NY Family Lawyers, has offices in the New York Metropolitan area including Corona, NY. Our Attorneys will guide you through your difficult situation. Without our Attorneys, you may lose your rights which may cost you a significant amount of money.
Stephen Bilkis and Associates will also recommend Assault Lawyers should you need them.