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New York Spousal Abuse Laws

Domestic violence crimes are very serious offenses that carry strict penalties because of the severe harm done to the victims. It is a broad area of crime in New York, encompassing many different types of offenses, and does not refer to just one single charge. Similarly, "spousal abuse charges" refer to a series of crimes that violate domestic violence laws and involve not only current or former spouses, but also individuals that are involved through dating, living with each other, or sharing children with one another.

In New York, there are several offenses associated with this crime category that range from less serious violations such as disorderly conduct, which could be based on something like a public fight with your significant other, to a more serious charge such as assault or rape.


A common type of New York spousal abuse charge is harassment. Harassment occurs when an individual engages in bothersome or threatening pattern of behavior toward another person such as following them or generally placing them in fear. In New York, when the behavior is accomplished through written or electronic means, the offense is elevated to aggravated harassment.

Sex Crimes

Sex crimes are another area often implicated in spousal abuse charges. Although you may be intimately and/or romantically involved or even married to a person, if you engage in sexual contact with that person without their consent, you have committed a crime. New York law defines the acts in specific terms. The following sex crimes are often committed against spouses or romantic partners:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual misconduct

New York Spousal Abuse Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of state laws related to New York spousal abuse charges, including links to important code sections.


Penalties and Sentencing

  • Harassment: class B misdemeanor which can mean up to 90 days in jail.
  • Aggravated harassment: First degree: E felony charge. Depending on your criminal history, you could face up to four years in prison. Second degree: class A misdemeanor which carries a potential one year in jail.
  • Sexual misconduct: class A misdemeanor. The maximum sentence means that you could face up to a year in a jail.
  • Sexual abuse: There are three degrees and the charge depends on the basis for the lack of consent.

Possible Defenses

Because New York spousal abuse charges include various offenses, there are myriad ways to defend against these charges including the following:

  • Lack of injury
  • Lack of intent
  • Consent

Related Offense

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

New York Spousal Abuse Charges: Related Resources

Get Legal Help with Your Spousal Abuse Case

If you're facing New York spousal abuse charges, then you should strongly consider having an experienced attorney on your side. These are serious charges and an attorney can help you decide how to best proceed with your case. Use Findlaw's attorney directory to locate a New York criminal defense attorney near you today.

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