Outside Counsel

Criminal Statute Invalidation Complicates Family Offenses

, New York Law Journal


Lewis A. Silverman writes: Recent appellate decisions expose the fact that the definition of a family offense in New York is not based on specific acts or conduct, but rather on references to various sections of the Penal Law, which leads to a process that can be confusing not only for attorneys, but especially for the multitude of pro se litigants who seek civil relief without the benefit of counsel.

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What's being said

  • Eric Warner

    Both the Family Court Act and the Criminal Procedure Law make crystal clear that the Family Court and the criminal courts have concurrent jurisdiction over "family offenses," and that because the courts‘ purposes differ -- one to stop the violence, the other to prosecute the offender -- they may exercise their jurisdiction simultaneously regarding allegations that are substantially the same. What these statutes do not make clear enough, though, for those seeking Family Court intervention to help end the violence, are the specific acts necessary for them to allege to obtain that intervention. Our legislators simply must do a better job of defining those acts in language that will satisfy the law and make sense to the victims petitioning the court.

    Professor Silverman has provided an articulate call for legislative action and an excellent presentation of the action the legislature needs to take. Nice Job!

    Eric Warner
    Former Senior Executive Assistant District Attorney, Bronx County
    Author of The Juvenile Offender Handbook

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