New York Penal Law Section 215.52: Aggravated Criminal Contempt
Similar to basic Criminal Contempt charges, Aggravated Criminal Contempt concerns violating an Order of Protection. Prosecutors in New York take all Criminal Contempt cases seriously, but especially Aggravated Criminal Contempt, because in these situations the defendant already has one open criminal case, and, despite being arrested for the prior incident, along with receiving judicial instruction to avoid the complainant, the defendant contacts the complainant anyway. Even if the defendant merely intended to apologize for the earlier incident, prosecutors will emphasize that the defendant consciously disregarded a direct judicial order and is likely to do so again. It becomes even more serious when the contact in violation of the Order of Protection results in physical injury or establishes a pattern of disregard for the judicial orders.
There are two ways a person can be found guilty of Aggravated Criminal Contempt in New York. The first is that in spite of a valid Order of Protection in favor of the complainant - which the defendant has prior knowledge of - the defendant intentionally or recklessly causes physical injury (or worse) to that person. Physical injury does not require that the complainant be hospitalized or suffer broken bones or some sort of trauma that will leave a scar. Physical injury is caused when a person is put in pain or physical contact leaves some redness or swelling.
The second way a person can be found guilty of this offense is repeatedly violating orders of protection under the right circumstances, resulting in a "bump-up" to Aggravated Criminal Contempt. If a defendant has been previously convicted of Aggravated Criminal Contempt and then violates a new order of protection by making threats to the complainant or damaging the complainant's property, the charge can be bumped-up to Aggravated Criminal Contempt, a D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison, instead of Criminal Contempt in the First Degree, an E felony. Additionally, if a defendant has been convicted of Criminal Contempt in the First Degree within the previous five years and commits what would be considered Criminal Contempt in the First Degree again, the charges will be bumped up to Aggravated Criminal Contempt.
If you have been charged with Aggravated Criminal Contempt in New York, it is crucial that you are represented by an attorney with a thorough knowledge of the law around Orders of Protection and Domestic Violence charges. Often, these criminal cases are complicated by personal relationships between complainants and defendants which fluctuate between anger and remorse. In addition to an in depth understanding of the law concerning Criminal Contempt charges, the New York domestic violence attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman have experience in guiding personal relationships in a way that generates the best outcome for criminal cases. Call us today at (212) 581-1001 for a free case consultation.