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Court Rules on Domestic Violence and Child Neglect Charges

In domestic violence cases, the law states that if an incident of domestic violence occurs in the presence of a child, that the involved parties are charged with the offense of cruelty to children, child neglect, or child abuse. Sometimes, the victim is inadvertently charged with child neglect.

In the heat of the moment when handling domestic violence calls, officers are called upon to make immediate judgments. Sometimes, these judgments are made mistakenly and the wrong party is charged in relationship to the incident. The statute orders officers to charge the primary aggressor of the domestic violence assault. Sometimes, it is not immediately clear which party involved in a domestic dispute is the primary aggressor. A New York Criminal Lawyer said these calls are complicated and emotionally charged. Many times, officers rely on the court system to sort through the involvements because they will see the incident after everyone has cooled off. Unfortunately, the courts are also overburdened and court officers have the same problems sorting out the issues. This was the case in an appeal that was requested on August 10, 2010.

A young mother was assaulted by her boyfriend in her home in front of her child. The altercation was volatile and police were called to the scene. The officer interviewed the child and the child stated that he was scared and nervous during the assault. Both the mother and her boyfriend were charged with child neglect. A Brooklyn Criminal Lawyer said when the case came to court, social services had already determined that the incidence of domestic violence had been isolated. The boyfriend was determined to be the primary aggressor. The mother had broken her relationship with the boyfriend and the incident was established to have been an isolated encounter.

The mother requested that her case be dismissed since the Family Court had already determined that she was no threat to the child. In fact, they determined that there was no reason to exercise any sanctions. They found that the child was healthy and that his mental and emotional condition was not impaired or in imminent danger of being impaired as a result of what they described as an isolated incident. The court established that the mother exercised good parenting skills and had an excellent relationship with the child. The child demonstrated a desire to continue residing with his mother. They found that the child and mother shared a positive relationship. When this situation was brought to the court’s attention, it was expected that the victim’s request to vacate the neglect case against her would be accepted. However, inexplicably the court refused to vacate her charge and found her guilty. The mother filed an appeal under the Family Court Act §105(c) stating that the agency’s evidence at the hearing failed to establish that any neglect had occurred in relation to this mother and her child. In essence, the state had failed to make their case by a preponderance of the evidence against the mother. The appellate court determined that the judgment in this case was flawed and that the case should have been vacated.

If this young mother had not had good representation on appeal, there is no question that she might have endured the humiliation of a child neglect charge on her record. Law enforcement officers and officers of the court failed this young mother. However, they are only human and are prone to innocent errors in judgment. Our system of Jurisprudence is designed with checks and balances in place to catch these errors and correct them. This one was caught and corrected.

Stephen Bilkis & Associates are attorneys who believe in the ability of the legal system to correct errors like this. Because there are convenient offices throughout New York and the Metropolitan area, it is easy to locate one of these attorneys close to you. If you have been charged wrongly for a crime that you did not commit, including sex crimes, theft charges or assault, contact us to have a New York Domestic Violence Attorney assist you. If you are located in the state of New York, we have NY criminal Lawyers who can intercede on your behalf.

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