The Domestic Violence Bureau
The Mount Kisco Police Department Domestic Violence Coalition was formed in January of 1997. It includes members of the police department's domestic violence team, the Village's clergy,
the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Council and most importantly neighbors within the community.
The idea behind the coalition is to bring together key people within the Village of Mount Kisco who will act together in addressing Domestic Violence issues and the impact they have on our community.
Whenever a domestic violence call is placed to the police department an officer trained in handling domestic incidents is assigned to investigate. After a comprehensive report is completed, our Domestic Violence Team Leader follows up on the call ensuring that the victim understands his/her rights. In the event an arrest is made the victim will also be provided with a list of options that will help in the days and weeks ahead.
If the need for counseling, transportation, or baby sitting is an issue, that too can be arranged. By establishing the Coalition we have volunteers who are respected members of our community that are willing to help.
The Mount Kisco Police Department urges those who are victims of Domestic Violence to report all incidents and to seek assistance.
If you are a victim, or have a question call our hotline at (914) 666-3855. If it is an emergency call 911 immediately.
What Protection Do The Courts Offer To Victims of Domestic Violence?
It is against the law for another person to abuse you. If you have been physically attacked or threatened by a person with whom you have a relationship, you can seek help from the courts. In New York, some domestic violence cases can go to both Criminal Court and Family Court, while others can go only to Criminal Court. The following people can take their cases to either or both courts:
* People who are legally married or used to be married to each other (this category does not include "common law" relationships or gay and lesbian relationships)
* People who have a child in common;
* People who are related by blood or adoption;
If you do not fit into one of these categories, you must go to Criminal Courts
Orders Of Protection
Victims of domestic violence are often told to obtain an order of protection. What is it? An order of protection is issued by a judge as a part of a court case. It requires an abuser to do or not do certain things, such as stay away from your home, school or job. It can also require an abuser not to assault, threaten or harass you. The order may extend to other members of your family, including your children. An order of protection may be issued whether or not the abuser lives with you. If appropriate, an order of protection need not exclude the abuser from the home. Where an abuser is excluded from the home, an order of protection may provide for visitation rights with the children.
Both Criminal Court and Family Court can issue orders of protection. It is a crime to violate an order of protection no matter which court issues it. The police will arrest a person who violates either a Family Court or Criminal Court order of protection.
What Is The Difference Between Criminal Court And Family Court?
The purpose of Criminal Court is to determine whether a person has committed a crime. If found guilty, an abuser (called the defendant) can be punished and may have a criminal record.
Cases in Criminal Court are prosecuted by the District Attorney. The District Attorney, not the victim, decides if there is enough evidence for the case to proceed. The victim is not a party the action. Rather, the victim is a witness for the prosecution.
The court may issue an order of protection as a part of the ongoing action and as part of a final disposition.
Family Court is a civil court. In a family offense proceeding, the court is concerned with stopping abusive conduct occurring within a relationship. The primary way this is accomplished is by the court issuing an order of protection.
In addition, the court may arrange for counseling and other services.
The victim (called the petitioner) begins a case in Family Court. The abuser ( called the respondent) will not receive a criminal record from a Family Court proceeding. The Family Court may issue an order of protection while the case proceeds and as a part of the final resolution of the case. If the respondent violates the order of protection, the Family Court judge may punish him or her, including sending the respondent to jail, or the matter may be prosecuted in Criminal Court. The Family Court can also resolve living arrangement issues such as custody and child support.
How Does A Domestic Violence Case Begin In Criminal Court?
Criminal Court cases start in one of two ways. The primary way is if the police arrest the abuser (called the defendant). After arrest, the defendant will generally be arraigned within 24 hours. Arraignment is the stage in a criminal proceeding when the defendant first appears in court and learns what crimes he or she is charged with. The judge will also determine whether to issue an order of protection.
A victim will not automatically be notified if the defendant is released or held on bail. For information about the case, call the District Attorney's office.
Even after the arrest of the defendant, the victim may still choose, under certain circumstances, to have the case transferred to Family Court or may choose to start a Family Court case in addition to the Criminal Court case. The District Attorney's office and the court will provide instructions on these options.
After arraignment, unless the defendant pleads guilty or the charges are dismissed, the case will be adjourned until another date, usually five or more days later. If an order of protection is issued at the arraignment, it will generally be valid only until the next court date. A new order of protection must be requested on each adjourned date.
You will also receive a phone call or letter from the District Attorney's office about your case. It is very important that you respond to any letter or phone call from the prosecutor. Your input is essential for the prosecutor to decide how to proceed on the case. Although the Assistant District Attorney will need information from you and may want to meet with you in his or her office, you will probably not have appear in court unless there is a trial. However, Criminal Court is open to the public and you are free to attend and bring someone else with you if you wish.
How Does A Domestic Violence Case Begin In Family Court?
To begin a case in Family Court you must personally go to that court in the county where you live, where the abuse occurred or where the abuser lives. A clerk will interview you in the Petition Room and will ask you for information to prepare a document called a petition which will start the Family Court action. The petition is a form used by the judge to determine what help you need. You should tell the clerk who prepares the petition what you want from the court.
The petition should include any instances of physical or verbal abuse, including use of weapons, against you or your children. The petition should also include information of the abuser's use of alcohol or drugs, history of mental illness and previous Criminal, Matrimonial or Family Court cases.
A judge will then review your petition and may ask you questions. The judge will decide whether or not to begin a case and issue a temporary order of protection. If the court authorizes the case to begin, the judge will issue a summons to order the abuser (called the respondent) to appear in court or an arrest warrant and may issue a temporary order of protection. Since the respondent is not in court when you file the petition, the order will not go into effect until it is personally served on the respondent. The police are required to serve the summons and order of protection on the respondent for you unless you tell the court that you will arrange for someone else to serve the papers.
The judge will give you a date when you and the respondent must return to court. On that date, the judge will try to resolve the matter and work out a solution for future living arrangements. If a solution is not reached, the court will ultimately hold a trial. Both you and the respondent are entitled to have a lawyer. If you do no return to court, you will no longer have an order of protection. You should return to court even if the respondent refuses to go.
Violation of Orders of Protection
When an order of protection is issued by a judge, the court files it with the police department. If you have a valid order of protection from either Criminal Court of Family Court requiring the abuser to stay away from you and it is violated, the police are required to make an arrest. Keep your order of protection with you at all times to show the police. If you do not have the copy with you when the police arrive, they can check to determine that a valid order exists.
THREATS AND INTIMIDATION
If, at any time you believe that you are in danger, CALL 911
It is against the law for anyone to threaten or intimidate you. If anyone is pressuring you concerning a criminal case, call the District Attorney's office or the police immediately.
For additional help or more information contact any of the following: