Family Court and Supreme Court has concurrent jurisdiction on family offenses. An indigent person may receive court-appointed representation in Family Court if they are under a certain income threshold. Family Offenses are crimes; therefore, Criminal Court also has jurisdiction over family offenses.
In order for one party to bring a family offense petition in Family Court, one of the following must be satisfied:
1. Parties must be members of the same family or household;
2. Parties must be related by blood or marriage;
3. Parties must have a child in common (including adoption); or,
4. Parties must have an “intimate relationship.”
When looking at whether a relationship is “intimate,” courts consider the nature of the relationship, whether the relationship was sexual in nature, the frequency of interaction between the person, and the duration of the relationship. Casual friendships and strictly business relationships are not included “intimate relationships.” If the person committing the family offense does not meet one of these relationships, then the complaining party can still file a police report in hopes of criminal prosecution.
The enumerated family offenses under section 812(1) of the Family Court Act (“FCA”) include the following:
a. Disorderly conduct;
b. Harassment (first and second degree);
c. Aggravated harassment (second degree);
d. Sexual misconduct;
e. Sexual abuse;
f. Forcible touching;
g. Sexual abuse (second and third degree);
h. Stalking (first, second, third, and fourth degree);
i. Criminal mischief;
j. Menacing (second and third degree);
k. Reckless endangerment;
m. Attempted Assault;
n. Criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation; and,
Sexual assault and rape are only prosecuted through the District Attorney’s Office. Sexual misconduct, forcible touching, and sexual abuse are, however, considered family offenses.
If you are in a dangerous relationship where you are considering filing a Family Offense Petition, please contact an attorney as soon as possible or speak to staff at the Family Courthouse.