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Last updated on: February 23, 2024

By Lebedin Kofman LLP

As experienced New York City criminal defense attorneys, we hear this question from people we speak to almost daily. It is very common for couples or family members to be drinking or getting on each other’s nerves and one of them or a neighbor decides to call the police. Often, people explain that they did not want the police to make an arrest but instead wanted the police to either escort the other person out of the house to cool off, or to scare them so that they would calm down or stop drinking or using drugs. But, instead, the police chose to make an arrest or take a report and now there is a warrant out for their significant other/ family member. The next question is “Can I drop it?” The short answer is it depends on what you have already said to the police at the point you change your mind/ what you have already signed. Before you make any decisions, it is important to speak with an experienced Manhattan domestic violence lawyer. A skilled attorney has the knowledge and strategies needed in order for you to have a chance of dismissing your domestic violence charge. 

When the police are called to a domestic disturbance, the general policy is that they have to arrest whoever they deem to be the initial aggressor. Years ago, the police would get called to houses for domestic violence complaints, and oftentimes, by the time they came, people would calm down and say they don’t want anyone arrested. The police would leave and then people would start arguing and drinking again and people got killed or seriously hurt in several instances. They then would sue the City for the police not doing their jobs and that is how some of these policies developed. The NYPD has certain policies in place to make sure that certain domestic disputes are prosecuted and orders of protection are put in place to separate people to keep them from hurting each other and then suing the City. 

So, when you call the cops because your girlfriend is drunk and smacks you and will not calm down, they come to the scene, separate both parties and ask them what happened. They will then ask you to sign what is called a DIR or Domestic Incident Report made up of several yellow and pink pieces of paper. They may ask you to write out what happened on one of those pages and then write it out in their own words and then ask you to sign it. Be careful and mindful of the fact that what you are signing is being signed under penalty of perjury. Read it over before signing it. 

Often, people will either tell me that they didn’t read what the office wrote and it was wrong or that they told the officer that they didn’t want their girlfriend/ boyfriend, etc arrested, but the officer told them that if they wrote out what happened and signed it, then they would let them go. WRONG. If you do not want anyone arrested, you should not write out or sign a DIR because if you do, and the allegations make out a crime, then there will be an arrest made. 

So, can you stop an arrest from happening after calling the police for a domestic violence allegation? 

It largely depends on the allegations and when you are trying to stop the arrest. If you called 911 and said something along the lines of please send the police my husband is out of control and nothing specific about what happened and then the police come and you do not cooperate with the investigation or tell them to leave, then it is likely yes, no arrest will be made. 

If you call the police and say, my husband, named John, smacked me around and I’m bleeding from the lip and missing a tooth, please send the police, then the police will likely make an arrest even if you do not want to cooperate because they may have enough probable cause from the 911 call and possibly seeing you injured or other witness statements. 

When the police arrive on the scene, you must understand that the more you cooperate with the investigation, the more likely an arrest is going to be made. The police are not there to sort out domestic disputes or calm people down, if the things you explain happened to make out a crime, they are making an arrest or issuing an icard to arrest the person upon police contact. For example, if you say “John smacked me in the face and threatened me with a knife, and my 5-year-old was in the room at the time, but John is a good guy, he was just drunk and he pays all the bills, etc…I just wanted you guys to come to scare him or sober him up,” John is either getting arrested on the scene or they are issuing an icard for his arrest upon contact with the police. 

In that scenario, John would likely be charged with misdemeanor domestic violence charges of Assault in the third degree, Menacing in the second degree, and endangering the welfare of a child, as well as others and full orders of protection would be ordered by the Court on behalf of the wife and the child in the room.

ACS would likely be called by the cops and ACS may file a neglect petition against John causing him to also have to appear in Family Court for subjecting the child to witnessing domestic violence.

If John had left the scene and you signed the DIR, then changed your mind before he was arrested, you would not be able to stop the arrest from taking place. It is important to remember that it is not you v. him, it is the People of the State of New York that prosecute defendants, and the decisions regarding charges are made by the prosecutors that work in the country of the occurrence.

What Happens When Police Are Called for Domestic Violence?

In the State of New York, domestic violence cases are subject to “mandatory arrest” policies, which require police to arrest the offender in certain situations involving intimate partner relationships. Such situations include the commission of a felony, a violation of a stay-away order, or a family offense crime, as defined by domestic violence laws. 

New York domestic violence attorney

When an emergency arises and the police are called, they have a duty to investigate regardless of the nature of the incident, including cases of domestic violence. Upon arriving at the scene, they will commence their investigation to determine if there is sufficient evidence to suggest that you have caused harm or threatened the alleged victim. In the event that the police collect enough evidence to establish probable cause or a reasonable belief that you have committed an act of domestic violence, you will be arrested in accordance with New York law.

To gather evidence, the police will initially question the victim to get their perspective on what happened, their whereabouts, the presence of any weapons, any injuries sustained, and whether there are any children present in the home. Additionally, the police will take photographs of any injuries or property damage, seize any weapons, and copy any messages that pertain to threats, apologies, or discussions about the incident.

Even if the victim requests otherwise, the police must make an arrest in mandatory arrest cases. However, if the abuser commits a misdemeanor crime and there is no order of protection, the police can exercise discretion in making an arrest. It is important to note that police cannot ask victims whether they want to press charges or if they want the abuser arrested.

Additionally, while a mandatory arrest policy is in place, the arrest may not always occur immediately, as the police are required to make the arrest even if the abuser has already left the scene. In all cases of domestic violence investigation, police must provide victims with written notification of their legal rights.

If you are facing charges of domestic violence, contact Lebedin Kofman LLP to schedule a free consultation. 

How Long Do Most Domestic Violence Cases Last?

The duration of domestic violence cases can significantly vary, often depending on multiple factors including the complexities of the case and the desires of the defendant. The time to resolve these cases can range from a few weeks to as long as a year.

In cases where the defendant is eager to resume family life, the attorney may request to speed up the process. An early court date request at the arraignment can potentially shorten the timeline. Without such a request, a domestic violence case will not be heard for at least six weeks. The earliest resolution could be within a couple of weeks, but this is contingent on the arraignment attorney’s proactiveness in securing the soonest possible adjournment date.

Moreover, it’s not uncommon for alleged victims to recant or modify their statements, claiming previous exaggerations. However, this typically does not deter attorneys from pursuing the case. Prosecution may continue based on the initial allegations, often under the belief that any withdrawal is a result of coercion or threats by the defendant.

Understanding these intricacies is crucial for anyone involved in a domestic violence case. Lebedin Kofman LLP emphasizes that every case is unique and requires a tailored approach to navigate the legal timeframe effectively. For individuals facing such charges, securing a knowledgeable New York City domestic violence lawyer who is proactive in court scheduling can significantly impact the duration of the case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Can I Drop Assault Charges Against My Partner?

In New York, once charges for domestic assault are brought forth by a prosecutor, the victim loses the power to request the dismissal of these charges. Even though the victim might be the one directly affected, crimes in New York are viewed as transgressions against the state and its laws, rather than just violations of individual rights. Consequently, the decision regarding the domestic assault case lies with the prosecutors, whether they are hired by the state, county, or city.

Although victims don’t have direct control over the criminal proceedings, their input can significantly influence the case’s outcome. Testimonies from alleged victims of domestic assault carry significant weight during a trial. A jury is often more inclined to find a defendant guilty of domestic assault if such testimony is presented.

Naturally, a victim’s refusal to cooperate with the prosecutor has its limits. In New York, a prosecutor possesses the authority to compel a victim to testify through a subpoena. Unless the victim can justify invoking the Fifth Amendment or retracting previous statements made to law enforcement, they are obliged to respond to questions while under oath.

Navigating the legal intricacies of domestic assault can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to go through it alone. At Lebedin Kofman LLP, our New York City domestic violence lawyers can guide you through the process and explore options for dropping assault charges. We understand the nuances of such cases and can provide legal advice tailored to your situation. Contact us to discuss your case with a dedicated legal professional today.

Question Answer
Can charges be dropped for domestic violence? Possibility varies based on allegations and timing. Initial 911 call lacking details might prevent arrest. Specific allegations could lead to arrest despite victim’s wishes.
How does cooperation impact the outcome? Cooperation increases arrest likelihood. Police prioritize addressing potential crimes; evidence-backed allegations may lead to arrest.
Can signing a Domestic Incident Report (DIR) stop an arrest? Signing DIR matters, but if allegations indicate a crime, arrest could still happen. DIR content influences the investigation.
Can a victim stop an arrest after an arrest warrant is issued? After a warrant is issued, the victim’s decision might not prevent arrest. The legal process and authorities determine the outcome.
What role does cooperation play in arrests? Cooperation aids the arrest decision. Law enforcement acts on evidence; accurate information supports the case. Prosecutors decide charges based on evidence.

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