In New York, and in other parts of the US, criminal cases involving domestic violence may be heard in a specialized, domestic violence court. These courts are focused on domestic violence cases, and work toward solving the problems that are unique to these cases. Their goals are to protect the safety of victims, hold offenders responsible, and work towards improving the odds of recidivism. By specializing in domestic violence cases, and working with rehabilitation for offenders, these courts can deliver the most consistent outcomes and sentencing.

Treatment Options Available in the Domestic Violence Court Model

These courts follow a program that is unique to the type of crime that is being adjudicated here. Let’s take a look at some of the program components:

Special Sentencing – It’s standard procedure for domestic violence courts in New York to include a protective order for the victim in sentencing. Although it may vary from court to court, some require offenders to complete mandated programs, such as:

  • Parenting Classes
  • Anger Management
  • Drug or Alcohol Programs
  • Batterer Intervention
  • Mental Health Treatment

Assessment of Offenders – A rigorous assessment program will be applied to determine the presence of factors that will lead the offender to repeat violent behaviors. They will assess for drug abuse, perform mental health assessments, evaluate for service needs, do risk assessments for violent recurrences, and study the offender’s background of victimization.

Supervision and Monitoring for Compliance – Offenders that have been released on probation will have to appear back in front of the judge at regular intervals, who can monitor compliance and check for necessary incentives or adjustments that should be imposed.

Dedicated Judge – Typically, the judge that hears the case originally will stay with the case, acting as a sort of case manager throughout and beyond the sentencing stage. The judge may, from time to time, reach out to those involved with the case to check for understanding and progress, as well as ensure that protective orders are complied with, and the victims are safe.

Victim Advocates – In Domestic Violence Court, an important piece of the puzzle is the person that serves as the victim advocate. They serve as a point of contact between the victim and the court. They create effective safety plans and will work to evaluate the victim’s needs and provide social services support as needed. They are available to bridge the communication gap whenever victims need to get information or ask questions.

Addressing the Problem of Domestic Violence

There’s no cure-all for the domestic violence problem in America. New York is making attempts to improve the old system that did not address the needs of victims or offenders. The goal is to rehabilitate and reinforce positive change for offenders and thus reduce the risk of recurring violence that terrorizes families.

By offering holistic help for families in crisis while holding offenders accountable for their actions, they are attempting to improve the fabric of society. Treatment options offer offenders the resources they need to become productive members of society again. Domestic violence is tragic for everyone involved. It’s important to work towards improving outcomes and helping victims and offenders get the help they need to live healthy lives.

For more information, speak to a domestic violence attorney.

By: Kimberly Pelesz

Family law and criminal defense attorney Kimberly A. Pelesz received a B.S. degree magna cum laude and an M.P.A. degree summa cum laude from Binghamton University. She earned her J.D. from Pace University School of Law in White Plains, where she was selected for Phi Alpha Delta. Her charitable activities include work with My Sisters’ Place in White Plains and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Humane Education Taskforce.

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