— by Sarah Ballard
Case: In re Jaynie S., 2015 WL 8083037 (1st Dept. Dec. 8, 2015)
Abstract: Respondent-father was “clearly informed” to stop sending letters to Petitioner-mother and child and thus committed the family offense of stalking in the fourth degree when he mailed petitioner and child letters after he received a temporary order of protection, which stated that Respondent was not to communicate with Petitioner or child except as necessary to effectuate court-ordered visitation or to discuss child’s welfare, and where Respondent sent letters when there was no order of visitation in place and the contents of the letter went beyond asking for mere visitation with child or inquiring about his welfare.
Summary: A father appealed an order from the Family Court, Bronx County, in which, after a nonjury trial in family offense proceeding, Diane Kiesel, J., determined that the father had committed the offenses of aggravated harassment and stalking against the mother of his child and imposed a five-year order of protection against the father. The Appellate Division affirmed. In doing so, it held that the father had committed the family offense of fourth-degree stalking because it could not be seriously argued that he was not “clearly informed” to cease sending petition and the child letters (see Penal Law § 120.45) and that “aggravating circumstances” warranted issuance of a five-year order of protection. Specifically, the father mailed the mother and child letters after he had received a temporary order of protection which clearly advised the father to stop sending the mother and the child letters. Although the order did allow the father to to contact the mother “as necessary to effectuate court-ordered visitation or to discuss the child’s welfare,” at the time there was no order of visitation in place when the father sent the letters. Furthermore, the contents of the letter went beyond asking for visitation with the child or inquiring about his welfare. Moreover, the mother testified that receiving the letters had frightened her.