Understanding family offenses in New York

Allegations of certain acts involving family members or people who live together may be considered family offenses, and may carry lasting penalties.

From time to time, arguments may erupt between family members, couples and others who live together. In cases when the tensions escalate, it may be considered a family offense in New York, which may carry criminal penalties. According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, 2,172 people in Nassau County alone reported being the victims of domestic violence-related incidents in 2016. Understanding such charges may help people protect themselves from having family offense petitions filed against them.

What are family offenses?

When allegations of certain criminal acts involve people who are related, are or were married, share a child in common or otherwise reside together, they may be considered family offenses. These may include the following:

  • Harassment or aggravated harassment
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Menacing or criminal mischief
  • Attempted assault or assault
  • Stalking

When such allegations are made, the accused have the right to dispute them. In such cases, the court may hold a fact-finding hearing to determine the truth or fallacy of the claims.

What are the potential consequences of family offenses?


If the court deems allegations of family offenses credible, people who are accused of such abuses may face a number of consequences. During a dispositional hearing, a judge may suspend their judgment for up to six months or sentence them to probation for up to one year, mandatory participation in a batterer's education program, and alcohol or drug treatment. The court may also order people to pay up to $10,000 in restitution.

When some family offense petitions are filed, the court may see fit to issue temporary orders of protection, which may remain in effect until the court hearing. In addition to the other potential penalties for family offenses, the court may also order final orders of protection that may remain in effect for up to two years. Such orders may require people to stay away from the petitioners and any involved children, refrain from committing any further family offenses, pay any medical bills resulting from the abuse and pay the petitioners' reasonable legal fees. In cases when there are certain aggravating factors, criminal orders for protection may be issued for up to five years.

Obtaining legal representation

Family offense allegations may have lasting implications on people in New York, personally and professionally. Therefore, those who are facing domestic violence-related charges may benefit from working with an attorney. A lawyer may explain their options and help them determine the best course of action given their situation, as well as aid them in building a solid criminal defense.