Accused of hitting my wife, what should I do?
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Accused of hitting my wife, what should I do?

Accused of hitting my wife, what should I do

This is an article that I tried publishing in an unnamed Jewish newspaper in Nassau County (more specifically the 5 Towns). I was informed that this article would not be published due to the fact that I was enabling women to call the police if they were victims of domestic violence.  I was informed that if I wanted this article published, I should delete the part about women involving law enforcement if they are assaulted by their husbands.  

This article was never published in this newspaper.

To the non-Jewish world, the concept of a Jewish husband striking his wife is considered an impossibility. So much so, that many gentile women prefer to marry Jewish men because of their reputation for fidelity, financial security, and for having an even-temper.

Unfortunately, this perception of reality in many instances is not actual. Sadly, some Jewish husbands have anger issues. Instead of rationally discussing their marital woes with their spouse in an amicable manner, they choose to win the argument by battering their wives and assaulting their children.

Assuming my wife called the police and accused me of battering her, I received a phone call from a detective wanting to “talk to me”. What should I do?

That detective does want to talk with you—however, he doesn’t just want to talk with you. This detective wants you to confess to your domestic violence crime and then arrest you. Under no circumstances, should you talk with this detective alone. You will not be able to talk your way out of this arrest. Furthermore, you will be your own worst enemy by talking with him. Lawyer Up!

What do you mean by “Lawyer Up”?

“Lawyer Up” simply means that other than pedigree questions, such as your name, date of birth, or address, you should decline to answer any questions that law enforcement may ask without your attorney present. Hire a skilled criminal defense attorney to speak with this detective on your behalf to arrange for your voluntary surrender and accompany you through the arrest process. Your lawyer will make sure that you do not give any statements that will be used against you in a court of law.

Can I bring a matrimonial attorney with me when I voluntarily surrender myself to law enforcement?

No. This is a criminal case the minute police are involved. This case is a criminal matter, not a matrimonial one. Unless that matrimonial attorney has had extensive experience as a criminal defense attorney, save that lawyer for later. There is more than equitable distribution involved here. By your wife’s bringing the police into play, your liberty has been threatened. Depending on the severity of her injuries, you may very well be facing a felony conviction and a state prison sentence. Now is not the time to hire an attorney whose practice is limited to matrimonial and family law.

After I voluntarily surrender to law enforcement with the assistance of my criminal defense attorney, what happens during this questioning period?

The first thing the detective will do after introducing him/herself to you will be to inform you of your so called “Miranda Rights”. Among those warnings is your right to remain silent. Don’t even think that you could possibly talk your way out of this case. It will never happen. Have your lawyer politely inform this detective that under no circumstances will you discuss any facts of the case.

What happens to me while I am in police custody?

You will be processed, fingerprinted, photographed and answer so called, “pedigree questions”, such as your name, address, date of birth. You will then be transported to a local criminal court for your arraignment.

What is an arraignment?

An arraignment is a process that brings you, your attorney and a prosecutor before a local magistrate. In effect, an arraignment serves two purposes. The first is to formally inform you of the charges that are pending against you. The second is to
determine whether a judge is either going to release you on your own promise to return to court, or alternatively set some type of bail to ensure your return.

At an arraignment where a defendant is accused of domestic violence, a judge will want to ensure that the defendant stays away from his wife and children and will issue a full stay away order of protection. Additionally, at arraignment for domestic violence, one of the first questions a judge will ask is, “Counselor, if I were to release your client on his own recognizance, does he have an alternative place to stay until this case is resolved?” An astute lawyer would have anticipated this question and should have asked you for an alternative address.

Other than my home where my wife and children live, I have no other address to furnish my attorney. Where can I go?

You can go anywhere other than your home. By way of example, you could go to your brother’s house, your parent’s apartment or even your rabbi ‘s residence who will take you in as a guest until your case is resolved.

I just received a stay away order of protection from the court, however, I want to see my children. What can I do?

At arraignment, your lawyer should request to have this order of protection be made subject to further orders of either the Family and/or the Supreme Court regarding visitation or custody rights. The criminal order of protection will thus take a “back seat” to your Family and/or Supreme Court orders. This gives you the probability for you to see your children while your criminal court case is pending.

My wife does not want this case to go on any further, however, there is still an order of protection in effect. Can I ignore it and get back with her?

NO! Under no circumstances should you violate that order of protection. A violation of an order of protection is a separate act, punishable up to seven years in jail and it is a separate crime. Remember, it is not you vs. your wife, it is the People of the State of New York vs. You. A prosecutor does not have a sense of humor nor is that prosecutor tolerant of having a court order ignored. You follow that order from the court until it either expires or is modified by a court of record.

What happens if my wife has a change of heart and now wishes to drop the charges against me?

Your wife would have to inform the prosecutor of this, not you. Preferably, this should be done in writing in a sworn and notarized affidavit. This procedure would eliminate a prosecution “forgetting” about what your wife said and it would eliminate any accusations that you were telling her what to do.

Ultimately, what will be the outcome of my case?

The first question is whether you want to stay married or not. If you consider your marriage dead, the proper thing would be to give it a decent burial by using a matrimonial attorney or a mediator to work out any issues concerning custody, maintenance, and equitable distribution. The last thing you want to do is leave any unresolved issues between you and your ex, so please, if you think your marriage is over GIVE YOUR WIFE A GET. This would in effect totally dissolve your marriage and give you a clean slate in the event you want to remarry. If you feel the marriage is worth saving, enter into an anger management course and by all means, get couple’s counseling. Either way, you will resolve your criminal problems and eliminate the cause for your behavior.

Whatever path that you choose in resolving this issue, you will grow as a Jew and make the perception that Jewish men make good husbands into a reality.

James Medows is a second-generation criminal defense attorney admitted to practice in the State of New York and various federal courts. Mr. Medows is a member of the Kings County Criminal Bar Association. Mr. Medows can be reached at (917) 856-1247 or via email at medows@ny-defense.com. For more information, please visit
https://www.ny-defense.com/brooklyn-domestic-violence-lawyer/