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Domestic Violence

If you’ve been arrested for a family, or domestic violence related offense in Connecticut, the potential legal and collateral consequences can be serious and widespread. The laws related to domestic violence crimes are complex and are designed to protect and afford certain rights to the victims and to hold offenders accountable - the Connecticut courts prosecute these cases aggressively. Given the significant implications of a domestic violence arrest, and the fact that these cases often involve situations of heightened emotions between families or loved ones, navigating the court system can be a daunting and overwhelming task for a person charged a domestic violence crime. Contacting a criminal defense team like Tomeo Sills, LLC, with experience in handling domestic violence cases can be of vital importance to protecting your rights and securing a favorable resolution of the case.

What is a “Domestic Violence” crime?

‘Domestic Violence’ is not a criminal charge; Connecticut defines “family violence” offenses as those which occur between family or household members, and that result in physical injury, or that create a fear of imminent physical injury. This definition includes incidents of threatening, stalking, or assaultive behavior, but does not include incidents of verbal arguments or abuse alone, unless there is a likely and present risk that physical violence will occur as a result. The law defines a “family or household member” to include persons who:

  • are related by blood or marriage;
  • are presently, or have recently been residing together;
  • are presently, or have recently been in a dating relationship;
  • are spouses or former spouses;
  • Share a child in common, regardless of if they are or were ever married or resided together.

Common criminal charges resulting from a domestic violence arrest may include:

  • Assault;
  • Sexual Assault;
  • Threatening;
  • Breach of Peace;
  • Disorderly Conduct;
  • Stalking;
  • Strangulation;
  • Risk of Injury to a Minor;
  • Criminal Violation of a Restraining and/or Protective Order.

Domestic Violence Arrests

When the police respond to a call for a domestic situation, they are mandated to make an arrest if they believe there is probable cause that a domestic violence related crime has occurred - even if tensions have eased by the time that they arrive, and the victim does not want to “press charges.” Any person arrested for a domestic violence offense will be required to to appear in court the next business day for an arraignment and criminal protective order hearing. A criminal protective order is a court order that protects the victim of a domestic violence crime from further injury or abuse by the accused person while the case is ongoing.

When a person is not held in custody following a domestic violence arrest, the police will issue temporary conditions of release that are enforced until the time of the arraignment. These temporary conditions may include: orders to surrender firearms and ammunition, orders to protect and limit contact with the victim, and could prohibit an arrested person from returning to their home. A violation of these temporary conditions of release can result in a person’s arrest for separate and additional criminal and domestic violence charges.

Arraignment and Protective Orders

Depending on the time and date of a domestic violence arrest, the arraignment may take place the same day, or will be scheduled for the next business day. It is crucial to protect yourself at this stage of a domestic violence case, as the result of the initial appearance could lead to several restrictions on your rights and other conditions that may remain in effect for the duration of your case, which could be several months.

The arraignment process for domestic violence cases involves a lengthy and thorough case-screening process by Family Relations officers, including an interview about the alleged offense - where anything you say could potentially be used against you! Family Relations will review the police report and conduct a screening for risk of continued violence, including: interviewing the victim of the offense a review of criminal records, prior orders of protection, and a check of handguns and firearm registries. Family Relations then reports its initial impressions and recommendations to the court regarding the severity of the case, including what level of protective order should be ordered, and any other treatment or services that they feel are necessary and appropriate.

Every domestic violence case in Connecticut involves some level of a criminal protective order - which can result in extreme hardship where a person is ordered to have no contact with their spouse, and in some cases their children, and may even be ordered to vacate their own home for a significant period of time. There are three basic types of protective orders that may be issued:

  1. Full, No-Contact order: This is the most restrictive protective order that may be issued and forbids any type of contact including: verbal, physical, electronic, or third-party;

  2. Residential Stay-Away order: This is a less restrictive form, which allows for contact but prohibits a person from going to the home of the protected person; and,

  3. Partial Protective order: This is the least restrictive form and allows for contact and even cohabitation, but prohibits any harassment, assaultive, or threatening behavior toward the protected person.

Once a protective order has been issued, it remains in effect until the case reaches a final conclusion, or until the court orders otherwise. In addition to a protective order, at an arraignment for a domestic violence case the court can impose additional conditions of your release, such as mandated treatment and ongoing supervision. Any violation of a criminal protective order, or the conditions of release can result in further arrests and additional charges for criminal and domestic related offenses. Violations of this nature are considered very serious by prosecutors and judges alike, and can severely complicate an ongoing case.

Consequences of Domestic Violence Cases

Not only does an arrest for a domestic violence case carry the potential for conviction and jail time, but often times the fallout of these cases can trickle into many different aspects of a person’s life: causing issues for employment, travel, and general harm to their reputation. For example, in cases where children are present during the alleged offense, it is likely that DCF will be contacted and will initiate its own investigation that could lead to additional legal issues.

The outcome of any particular case will depend on its own unique set of circumstances, but in many cases it is possible to resolve a domestic violence case favorably, with no conviction and a dismissal of the charges. The advocacy and assistance of an experienced Connecticut domestic violence defense team like that of Tomeo Sills, LLC, can be a critical factor to protect your rights and your record.

If you have been charged with a domestic violence crime, you should contact Tomeo Sills, LLC immediately for a free consultation.