Domestic Violence Attorney in Rochester NY
Criminal charges can disrupt your life and endanger your livelihood, freedom, and relationships. When domestic violence charges threaten your quality of life, you deserve fair and experienced representation. Experienced, professional, and successful defense attorney Thomas A. Corletta, Attorney & Counselor at Law, and his team are here to help you.
As a solo practitioner, Mr. Corletta offers personal and undivided attention from an established, proven legal expert. In complex and sensitive cases, like domestic violence—which can play out in both criminal and family court — we seek out and marshall all the facts to ensure you get the best possible defense in these complex cases, which have specialized procedures and Rules of Evidence. Since we are also experienced in matrimonial and family law, we can also apply our expertise from those cases, which is usually quite important.
Domestic Violence Charges
Law enforcement may charge you with domestic violence if they believe you have committed a crime against a member of your household, family, spouse, or “intimate partner.” These situations often occur during contested divorce or custody cases. Your intimate partner or spouse often brings these charges. Since 2010, “intimate” partners such as boyfriends or girlfriends can bring these charges even without a child in common. In many cases, these charges arise out of break-ups and are motivated by spite, jealousy, a desire to obtain leverage in a divorce or child custody case, or a desire to begin another relationship.
The seriousness of the charges depends upon the type of offense, the extent of any resulting injuries, and the legal circumstances surrounding the incident. As aforementioned they can be brought in civil court or family court or both. Domestic violence can relate to any of the following factual situations:
Physical abuse may also result in assault or harassment charges, which are considered criminal or “family offenses” which can result in Orders of Protection and custody issues if children are involved.
Case Study 1
BD v. MC (Mon. Co. Fam. Ct., 4/12/22) & NR.v. MC (Mon. Co. Fam. Ct., 4/12/22).
MR. CORLETTA SCORES A DOUBLE VICTORY IN FAMILY OFFENSE CASE
Family disputes often result in misuse of Family Offense proceedings. Mr. Corletta demonstrated this in BD v. MC (Mon. Co. Fam. Ct., 4/12/22) & NR v. MC (Mon. Co. Fam. Ct., 4/12/22).
In these cases, two siblings obtained separate Orders of Protection against a third sibling over a family dispute. There was no violence, or threats. There was simply arguing amongst siblings over an inheritance. The obtaining of Orders of Protection, even on a temporary basis, was improper and a misuse of the Court system.
Orders of Protection have wide-ranging consequences, and are often granted far too liberally. The most enduring consequence of an Order of Protection is the effect it has on employment, particularly if the person against whom the Order of Protection is granted works in healthcare or schools. People often do not think about this when they rush to Court to obtain an Order of Protection, and courts grant them far too liberally.
Going to work on this case, Mr. Corletta spotted a defect in one Petition, which clearly indicated it was improperly brought, and obtained a dismissal by Motion. The other Petition was scheduled for an Evidentiary Hearing. Mr. Corletta got that Petition dismissed based upon a failure of proof. In other words, no family offense, as defined in the Family Court Act, was demonstrated. It was a complete misuse of the system.
Although both Petitions were dismissed, Mr. Corletta’s client had to live with a Temporary Order of Protection for approximately 4 months before having both Orders of Protection vacated and dismissed.
This demonstrates the inherent unfairness of these proceedings, and how they are often used for purposes for which they are not intended.
Case Study 3
People v. Anonymous (Mon. Co. Fam. Ct., 4/22)
MR. CORLETTA KNOCKS OUT BASELESS FAMILY OFFENSE PETITION AGAINST GRANDPARENT
Dysfunctional family dynamics often lead to poor judgment and misuse of the Court system. Mr. Corletta demonstrated that in Matter of Anonymous (Mon. Co. Fam. Ct., 4/22).
There, 2 non-parents sought custody of Mr. Corletta’s client’s grandchild, making allegations of abuse and neglect against the child’s parents, one of whom was Mr. Corletta’s client’s child.
Separately, they brought an Article 8 “Family Offense” Petition, alleging Mr. Corletta’s client, the grandparent, committed Family Offenses under the Penal Law against the child. The Petition alleged Family Offenses based upon incidents allegedly occurring over 20 years ago, which the Petitioners speculated were occurring now.
The allegations were based entirely upon hearsay and rank speculation, and remarkably were brought by the Petitioner/non-parents under the supervision of their family law attorney.
The objective was to bar Mr. Corletta’s client from all contact with the grandchild. Mr. Corletta immediately went to work, much like a surgeon, and took the Petition apart line by line, demonstrating how it failed to comport with the Rules of Evidence, and was further based entirely upon speculation and hearsay.
This was vigorously opposed by the Petitioners and their attorney, who at the same time tried to distance herself by saying it was prepared by her lay clients.
Mr. Corletta did not let up, and characterized it as a misuse of the Family Offense Petition procedure, and that the attorney should have known better. He noted his client had no Child Protective Service record whatsoever.
The Petition was dismissed in its entirety, over the vigorous objection of the Petitioner/non-parents and their attorney, who largely engaged in doubletalk.
Mr. Corletta’s client will now go on the offensive, and seek visitation with their grandchild, notwithstanding the overreaching and speculation engaged in by these Petitioners.
The client was fortunate to have a vigorous advocate like Mr. Corletta on their side.
Case Study 5
MR. CORLETTA HELPS “DOMESTIC VIOLENCE” DEFENDANT
Mr. Corletta has often argued that Domestic Violence charges are too often used as leverage for spouses or significant others to achieve ulterior motives, like getting the other person out of the house, to obtain control over the residence to advance another agenda, such as pursuing another relationship, or getting the ousted person to pay their housing expenses so they can live for free.
A prime example of this occurred in People v. F.J. (Rochester City Ct., 2/21).
It started right out of the proverbial box. Mr. Corletta’s client was charged with a Domestic Violence-related crime by their significant other. The client owns the house the couple resided in.
The significant other, who was more “savvy” with the law than Mr. Corletta’s client, ran to Court following an argument, said the “magic words”, and obtained a Stay Away Order of Protection. Although a non-qualifying offense for bail purposes, the Court erroneously entered the client into a Pre-Trial Release program, and essentially evicted the client from their own residence.
The client came to Mr. Corletta, not knowing what to do. Springing into action, Mr. Corletta immediately notified the Court that it was incorrect to require the client to enter into any Pre-Trial “treatment program” because the offense was non-qualifying for bail purposes, and the client was required to be released on their own recognizance without restriction.
Not surprisingly, at the first Court appearance, the District Attorney offered an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD). Mr. Corletta pointed out the unjust nature of the Order of Protection, and the District Attorney removed the requirement for any Order of Protection. The charge was then conditionally dismissed.
Many times in these Domestic Violence cases, unfair leverage is obtained by whoever gets to Court first. This case was a clear example this. It resulted in the client being evicted, before retaining Mr. Corletta, from their own home for no good reason for nearly two months.
While Domestic Violence is certainly not something to be condoned, it is also not something to be used as a bargaining chip or lever by conniving spouses or lovers, who often obtain these Orders of Protection ex parte, without any evidentiary hearing to gain an advantage. They have great practical consequences, and also can prevent employment as they go on the client’s record. In Mr. Corletta’s opinion, they are often misused.
Case Study 2
N.M. v. B.T. (Mon. Co. Fam. Ct., 5/2021)
MR. CORLETTA OBTAINS DISMISSAL OF ARTICLE 8 FAMILY OFFENSE “ABUSE” PETITION & RESTORAL OF CLIENT’S VISITATION
False allegations of Sexual Abuse are one of the most egregious things that can occur in litigation. Unfortunately, they are frequently used to gain leverage in Custody/Visitation disputes. Those who make such false allegations know courts often act preliminarily with kneejerk reactions, such as suspension of visitation and Orders of Protection, that often irreparably damage a parent’s relationship with an impressionable child.
While the allegations are vetted, a parent’s contact with his/her child can be cut off for months, without any evidentiary proof. This is an injustice that Mr. Corletta has often railed against, in both criminal and domestic cases.
It happened in a recent case Mr. Corletta handled in N.M. v. B.T. (Mon. Co. Fam. Ct., 5/2021).
In that case, Petitioner had filed no less than 5 Custody Petitions in less than 4 years against Mr. Corletta’s client, attempting to show Mr. Corletta’s client was unfit, and restrict or take away the client’s access to the party’s child. Petitioner has not been successful in restricting access to the child.
This time around, the Petitioner tried a different tack; false allegations of sexual abuse, purportedly coming from a 4 year-old, which were completely uncorroborated by any medical or other evidence.
The problem with Petitioner’s latest approach was that in seeking a “Stay Away” Order of Protection in a Family Court Article 8 proceeding, Petitioner came into contact with Mr. Corletta’s knowledge of the law.
Hearsay, while allowed in Custody proceedings, is not allowed in Article 8 proceedings, where an Order of Protection is sought, due to the implications of an Order of Protection. Therefore, Petitioner’s attempt to use a 4 year-old’s hearsay statements, was roundly rebuffed by Mr. Corletta, who made an immediate Motion to Dismiss, citing the fact that the Petition was based entirely on inadmissible hearsay.
Mr. Corletta supported this argument with Decisions from 3 of the 4 New York Appellate Divisions which have ruled on this issue.
Aside from the hearsay statements of this 4 year-old, who would not be competent to testify in Court anyway, there was no other proof whatsoever; medical or otherwise.
Notwithstanding, Petitioner’s Court-appointed attorney and the Attorney For the Child, despite knowing the facts upon which the Petition were based were without evidentiary basis, continued to advocate for exclusion of Mr. Corletta’s client from the child, based solely on Petitioner’s unsubstantiated claims.
Mr. Corletta further persisted in his argument, filing a Supplemental Memorandum of Law. The Referee ultimately agreed with Mr. Corletta, dismissing the Petition in its entirety and vacating the Order of Protection, thereby clearing Mr. Corletta’s client to exercise visitation with the young child, whom the client had not seen for 6 months.
This case illustrates the perniciousness of false allegations of Sexual Abuse, and as held by the Appellate Division in another case Mr. Corletta handled; Marino v. Marino 90 AD3d 1694 (4th Dept., 2011), parents who make false allegations of Sexual Abuse seeking to interfere with the other parent’s relationship with the child(ren) are presumptively unfit to parent.
Case Study 4
People v. A.T. (Wayne Co. Ct., 9/1/21)
MR. CORLETTA OBTAINS UNPRECEDENTED DISMISSAL OF INDICTED FELONY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASE IN RURAL WAYNE COUNTY
In a somewhat unprecedented decision rendered by a rural County Court Judge who was the former District Attorney in that County, Mr. Corletta obtained an outright dismissal of an indicted Felony Criminal Mischief case involving alleged Domestic Violence in People v. A.T. (Wayne Co. Ct., 9/1/21).
In a case which smacks of misuse of the Domestic Violence laws in this “Me Too” presumed guilty era, Mr. Corletta’s client got into a verbal argument with their significant other. During the argument,
Mr. Corletta’s client broke the significant other’s cell phone, which Mr. Corletta’s client had both purchased and paid for.
The significant other immediately contacted police and told both police and a Grand Jury that they had purchased the phone and that it belonged to them, which were outright falsehoods. Incredibly, they also gave the value of the phone, when they had not even purchased it. This incredibly arrogant testimony shows how confident Domestic Violence “victims” are that they will be “believed”. Here, the alleged “victim” lied with impunity, without fear of punishment.
As a result, Mr. Corletta’s client was indicted for Felony Criminal Mischief for damaging another person’s property. Originally represented by the Public Defender, it was recommended the client plead guilty to a reduced charge, go on probation, and receive “Anger Management” treatment.
Mr. Corletta’s client has been steadily employed by the same employer for 12 years in a responsible job with no prior criminal record.
Upon being retained, Mr. Corletta immediately examined the Grand Jury Minutes, and made multiple Motions to Dismiss the Indictment based upon insufficient evidence of both ownership and value, perjured testimony, and in the furtherance of justice, arguing that the case should not have been indicted at all, and that the client should not have even been arrested.
The Motion was vigorously opposed by the District Attorney who insisted on prosecuting it as a felony.
The Court first reduced the charge to a Misdemeanor based upon insufficient evidence before the Grand Jury, and then dismissed it outright, chastising the Prosecution for even bringing such an insignificant case to begin with, and characterizing the proof as “weak at best”.
The case underlines the misuse of Domestic Violence laws by alleged “victims” who attempt to manipulate the system to their advantage; i.e. to obtain an Order of Protection to, as in this case, get a significant other out of the house after the significant other has paid significant expenses for them and they have no use for them anymore.
Mr. Corletta’s client suffered greatly financial loss in this situation, due to their poor choice of partners, but that should not have resulted in a Criminal Indictment.
Case Study 6
People v. F.J. (Roch. City Ct., 2/21) & B.C. v. F.J. (Mon. Co. Fam. Ct., 4/21)
MR. CORLETTA GETS 2 CASES DISMISSED FOR CLIENT WRONGLY ACCUSED OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
“Domestic Violence” is frequently used as a “buzzword” by those seeking an advantage, either in or out of Court; in other words, an ulterior motive. However, since Family Court Petitions or Criminal Charges alleging Domestic Violence are handled by Courts with kid gloves in the face of adverse public opinion, this often results in great hardship to those wrongly or improperly accused.
In New York, Domestic Violence victims can pursue twin remedies in Criminal Court and Family Court, compounding the problem as these courts often issue conflicting Order of Protection ex parte without a Defendant’s input, often where children are involved, or impose harsh pre-trial sanctions without a finding of guilt.
Such was the case here in People v. F.J. (Roch. City Ct., 2/21) & B.C. v. F.J. (Mon. Co. Fam. Ct., 4/21).
In these cases, Domestic Violence charges were filed by the client’s significant other, who did not own the home they lived in. Mr. Corletta’s client was evicted from the home, which they solely owned, while the cases were pending. The parties were not married, but had children in common. In addition, the client was prohibited from seeing their three children, all at Christmas time, for no plausible reason.
Mr. Corletta took both cases, and immediately pointed out the problem to the Criminal Court Judge that there were conflicting Orders of Protection, and that the criminal Court had directed the client to “stay away”. He also pointed out that the Family Court case contained the same allegations, and there was also an Order of Protection there, but less restrictive. The client was also put on supervised release, when there was no factual or statutory basis for it.
Seeing the duplicative allegations, and after hearing Mr. Corletta’s objections, the Criminal Court Judge granted a Conditional Dismissal and vacated the Order of Protection against Mr. Corletta’s client. All restrictions were removed.
Now, with a single Order of Protection from Family Court remaining, at least visitation was restored. The alleged “victim”, who was not paying for an attorney and had the Public Defender, attempted to prolong the matter, keeping Mr. Corletta’s client away from their own home, by requesting repeated adjournments, not cooperating with their Public Defender, and finally, failing to appear in Court, showing an utter disdain for the entire proceeding. Mr. Corletta kept the pressure on, and repeatedly Moved to Dismiss.
After the alleged victim failed to appear, or even speak with their attorney, for a third time, the Referee dismissed the Petition and vacated the Family Court Order of Protection. One would think Mr. Corletta’s client “won”. However, the client really lost, because while the alleged “victim” manipulated the Court system, had a free attorney, and otherwise lived for free, the client was removed from their own home for approximately three months, while still being forced to pay all the expenses for the home.
The above scenario a common. It shows the abuses behind the manipulation of the “Domestic Violence” statutes in the courts today. Courts and law enforcement often do not see through the ulterior motives of those “playing the system”, thereby ignoring the rights of others. Needless to say, Mr. Corletta was able to “turn the tables” in the case to the client’s advantage, but it took several months to do so. Mr. Corletta recommended that the client move to evict the significant other before this happens again. Of course, the losers in the scenario are the children.
Thomas A Corletta Attorney at Law
Rochester NY 14614
Monday – Friday
9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.