Domestic Violence

In an emergency, call 911.

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What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence is abusive behavior that occurs between family members or intimate partners. Intimate partners include your current or former husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend, your child’s mother/father, or a partner that you live with or used to live with. Domestic violence can take the form of physical, sexual, psychological, or economic abuse.

The abuser has been arrested. What happens now?

After an arrest, the abuser will appear before a judge. This is called an arraignment. An attorney will represent the abuser, and an Assistant District Attorney will represent the People of the State of New York. The case against the abuser is brought in the name of the People of the State of New York, not your name. At arraignment, the judge can either set bail, hold the abuser in jail without bail, or release the abuser, who must then return to court on a future date. Usually the abuser is arraigned within 24 hours of his or her arrest.
CAUTION: The abuser may be released at any time after arraignment

What is an Order of Protection?

At arraignment, the Assistant District Attorney can ask the judge to issue an Order of Protection. An Order of Protection is a court order that instructs the abuser to refrain from certain conduct, including harassing, intimidating, threatening, assaulting, or stalking you. In addition, the order of protection can instruct the abuser to refrain from having any contact with you, whatsoever. If the abuser violates the order of protection, he or she can be re-arrested. Learn more about Orders of Protection.

How can I stay safe?

An order of protection cannot guarantee your safety. Therefore, it is important to have a safety plan. Our Office can assist you in obtaining court-related information and social services to help provide for your safety and ease any emotional trauma. Our Witness Aid Services Unit can help you:

  • Develop a safety plan
  • Obtain information about your case
  • Find domestic violence shelters, including relocation for senior victims.
  • Sign up for individual or group counseling
  • Connect with government agencies and non-profit organizations with expertise in family court or immigration matters
  • Refer you to Adult Protective Services or the NYC Department for the Aging
  • Submit public assistance applications
  • Arrange transportation to and from court
  • Obtain a cell phone for emergency 911 use (applies to high-risk situations)

Can you still help me if I don’t want the abuser arrested?

In order to proceed in Criminal Court you must have a criminal case. You also have the option to file a petition in Family Court when a family offense has been committed against you. You can request an order of protection in Family Court. However, Family Court is a civil court, and a proceeding will not result in a criminal record for the abuser. In order to proceed in Family Court, you and the abuser must:

  • Be related by blood,
  • Be legally married,
  • Be formerly married,
  • Have a child in common, or
  • Be or have been in an intimate relationship

For more information regarding Family Court proceedings, contact:

Manhattan Family Court

60 Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10013