A domestic or family violence charge is a difficult experience for anyone to be put through.
It requires sensitivity for everyone concerned. It also requires an aggressive defense lawyer.
Domestic violence is a serious matter, and no one condones violent behavior towards a family member.
But everyone accused of domestic violence is not guilty.
The laws and enforcement is extremely strict, and they are set up to prevent dangerous situations, and perhaps rightly so.
But that can also create situations where cops are put in a “must arrest” posture even though almost nothing happened.
I’ve seen this situation countless times, and I know how difficult it is to be accused of this crime.
Please call me to find out what I can do to fight for your against these charges.
Note: Connecticut law refers to “Domestic Violence” as “Family Violence.”
What is Family Violence?
Connecticut defines “family violence” as, “an incident resulting in physical harm, bodily injury or assault, or an act of threatened violence that constitutes fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault between family or household members.” (CGS § 46b-38a (1))
Verbal abuse or argument does not constitute family violence unless there is present danger and the likelihood that physical violence will occur.
Family violence is not a separate criminal offense; it simply refers to violent crimes that are committed against family members.
A family violence crime, in addition to its other elements, “contains as an element an act of family violence to a family member and shall not include acts by parents or guardians disciplining minor children unless such acts constitute abuse.” (CGS § 46b-38a (3))
Who qualifies as a “Family Member?”
In Connecticut, “Family or household members” are spouses, former spouses, parents and their children, people age 18 or older related by blood or marriage, people age 16 or older either living together or who have lived together, people who have a child together whether or not they are or have been married or have lived together, and persons in, or have recently been in, a dating relationship (CGS § 46b-38a (2))
What Role do the Police Play?
Police respond to violent incidents involving family members. Oftentimes they make arrests.
In responding to a family dispute, a police officer finds no cause to arrest, the officer must remain on the scene until the threat of violence has been eliminated (CGS § 46b-38b).
Police officers who respond to a family violence incident must complete a family violence offense report whether or not an arrest is made.
If a police officer makes an arrest, then he/she must make a report to the public safety commissioner.
What Happens in Court?
There is a Family Relations Division of the Superior Court of Connecticut. Each area court has a family violence intervention unit.
The family violence intervention unit is given the police report(s). That unit then prepares the report and recommends services.
The unit’s report and recommendations are available to the judge at the court appearance. The judge may impose conditions to protect the parties, including issuance of a protective order or an order prohibiting further violence against the victim, referral to a family violence education program for batterers, and immediate referral for more extensive case assessment.
What is a Protective Order?
Protective orders are criminal in nature and are issued against the defendant after he/she has been arrested for committing a violent crime against a family or household member.
The court clerk sends a certified copy of the protective order to the victim and within 48 hours to the local police department.
The order includes the information necessary to protect a victim from injury or intimidation, including an order prohibiting assaulting, threatening, molesting, or restraining the victim or entering the family dwelling or the victim’s dwelling.
The order must be made a condition of the defendant’s bail or release.
What are the Penalties for Violating a Protective Order?
Violation of a protective order is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison, a $1,000 fine, or both (CGS § 53a-110b).
Entering or remaining on property in violation of the order constitutes criminal trespass in the first degree, which is also a class A misdemeanor. In addition, the court may raise or revoke the defendant’s bail or release for a violation (CGS § 46b-38c).
What is a Restraining Order?
A restraining order is a means, through the court, of obtaining relief from abuse and/or threats by a family or household member.
To obtain a restraining order, the family or household member who has been subjected to a continuous threat of physical pain or injury must file an application in the Superior Court.
The application must include an affidavit that states the conditions of the abuse.
The court then holds a hearing within 14 days of receipt of the application. The alleged offender is given at least five days notice before the hearing.
However; Connecticut law allows the court to issue an ex parte order without notice or hearing if there is an immediate and present physical danger to the applicant.
The order is effective for six months unless extended by the court upon the applicant’s or its own motion. Anyone violating the order can be held in contempt of court.
What are the Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order?
Entering or remaining on property in violation of the order constitutes criminal trespass in the first degree, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison, a $1,000 fine, or both (CGS § 46b-15).
What is the Difference Between a Protective Order and a Restraining Order?
A restraining order differs from a protective order in that restraining orders are civil and can be issued without the accused person being arrested.
What is a Standing Criminal Restraining Order?
A standing criminal restraining order is a form of punishment against the defendant who has been convicted of certain crimes of violence against a family or household member.
Connecticut courts may issue standing criminal restraining orders, in addition to any sentence of incarceration, against people convicted of the following crimes committed against a family or household member:
- First and second degree assault;
- First and second degree assault of a victim age 60 or older;
- Second and third degree assault with a firearm;
- Second degree assault of a victim 60 or older with a firearm;
- First, second, and third degree sexual assault;
- First degree aggravated sexual assault;
- Sexual assault in a spousal or cohabiting relationship;
- Third degree sexual assault with a firearm; and
The order prohibits the person from (1) restraining the victim; (2) threatening, harassing, assaulting, molesting, sexually assaulting, or attacking the victim; or (3) entering the victim’s home.
Violation of a standing criminal restraining order is a class D felony that is punishable by one to five years imprisonment, up to a $1,000 fine, or both (CGS § 53a-110c).
When the subject of a standing criminal restraining order is released from prison or completes his/her term of probation or parole, the offender must be reminded of the existence of the criminal restraining order, the terms of the order, and the penalty for violation. The offender must also be given a copy of the order (CGS § 53a-40e).
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References: CT Penal Law
- CT Domestic Violence
- Family Violence Prevention laws – Sec 46b – 38a
- Criminal violation of a protective order: Class D felony: Sec. Sec. 53a-223
I represent clients in criminal cases in every court in Connecticut. Call for a free legal consultation and case evaluation on your family violence, assault, restraining order, protective order, or related charges at (203) 418-8553.