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Should Lawyer Involved in Domestic Violence be Suspended?

A lawyer was admitted into the practice of law in New York in December 7, 2006 and he has been practicing as a lawyer in New York since that tiime . Sometime in October 4, 2007, he assaulted his live-in girlfriend. He threw her repeatedly onto the floor. He slapped her on the face repeatedly while screaming that she was a slut and a whore. The girlfriend sustained injuries that required a medical attention.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said after he assaulted his girlfriend, he smashed her Cartier watch with a hammer. He took her designer purse and filled it with water. He punctured a painting that belonged to her and he sprayed her couch with water and oil.

He was charged with assault and with criminal destruction of property. He pleaded guilty to the assault and entered a plea bargain agreement where he promised to pay the damage to his girlfriend’s property in the amount of $8,000.00. He was sentenced to ten months imprisonment and he served six months of that sentence in jail. A final order of protection was entered against him.

The girlfriend also filed a complaint with the Departmental Disciplinary Committee. She alleged that he was guilty of professional misconduct. The first charge was that the acts of domestic violence he committed adversely reflect on his honesty and trustworthiness as a lawyer. A second charge of intentionally inflicting physical harm on and assaulting another also reflects upon his fitness as a lawyer.

The charges were referred to a Referee. A Queens Criminal Lawyer said the lawyer testified that he has always had a temper but he began therapy and counseling soon after his arrest. His therapist also testified that the lawyer had an intermitted explosive disorder and that he was already being treated for this disorder.

The Referee sustained the charges but dismissed the third charge. The Referee ruled that the destruction of his girlfriend’s property occurred at the same time as the assault and was part of the same violent conduct. The Committee recommended a one-year suspension from the practice of law despite the Referee’s recommendation of only sixty days suspension as he has already been imprisoned for six months and has paid for the damaged properties of his girlfriend.

A Hearing Panel confirmed the findings of fact of the Referee but they found that the third charge should not have been dismissed. A Westchester County Criminal Lawyer said the panel ruled that the destruction of property was an escalation of the violent tendencies of the lawyer.

The only question before the Court is whether or not the one year suspension should be upheld.

The Court ruled that the purpose of a disciplinary proceeding is not to punish a lawyer but to determine his fitness as an officer of the court so that the courts and the public can be protected from lawyers who are unfit for practice.

The Court held that the lawyer here engaged in a calculated pattern of violence and cruelty that cannot be explained away by an intermittent explosive disorder. The abuse occurred over a prolonged period of time. There had been prior episodes of violence committed by the lawyer against his girlfriend. Thus, his actions were serious and should be penalized with a three year suspension.

The Court affirms the findings of fact by the hearing panel and its conclusions of law but reverses and sets aside its ruling of a one-year suspension from the practice of law and orders that the lawyer be suspended from the practice of law for three years.

A New York Domestic Violence lawyer should advice you that an arrest and conviction for domestic violence or assault have legal consequences beyond just imprisonment. A New York Domestic Violence attorney will advice you also that if you are a professional your license to practice your profession may be revoked upon a showing that you are morally unfit to practice your profession. Lawyers are not an exception. The attorneys at Stephen Bilkis and Associates are willing to advice you and assist you in preparing your defense. Confer with any of the experienced lawyers at Stephen Bilkis and Associates at any of their offices conveniently located around the New York area.

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