Domestic Violence Court Puts Two Women on Probation

Prosecutor says female defendants make sentencing harder

By Alexandra Bauman

Originally reported on March 26, 2012

 SYRACUSE (NCC News)–The Domestic Violence Court in Syracuse saw 14 cases today but only two of the defendants were women. Most of the time a woman is the victim, the judge and prosecutor said.

            The Domestic Violence Court sees about 1,100 cases every year. Judge Stephen Dougherty says only 10 percent of those defendants are female, and about half of them are victims of domestic abuse themselves.

            It is protocol in the Domestic Violence Court for a representative of the Vera House to be present when the court is in session. The Vera House shelters battered women and works with men who batter to help them change. Many men coming to this court get probation that includes counseling in a Vera House program.

           “Domestic Violence Court is not based off of the type of crime but the type of relationship,” Judge Dougherty said to Syracuse University students after the session. Prosecutor Jeff Schiano said this relationship makes victim cooperation difficult. He said many times charges are dropped because the female victim will change her mind about the charges and never follow up.

Prosecutor Jeff Schiano © Alexandra Curtis

          Judge Dougherty said he always has the first pretrial within a week of the incident to prevent the victim from changing his or her mind. Today he put both Angel Byrne and Natalie Pride on probation for three years for petit larceny.

            “I’d love to see you do well on probation.” Judge Dougherty said to those defendants but told them if they violate their three-year probation, they could face ten months in jail.

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