Domestic Violence Crimes Q & A
The best Stamford criminal defense lawyers would agree that domestic violence crimes are treated very seriously by Connecticut State’s Attorney’s and Courts. Resolving even a minor domestic violence case can require numerous trips to Court, the imposition of criminal orders of protection and the possibility of having to engage in Court ordered classes. Any criminal case is a stressful and frightening experience to go through, but domestic violence matters have the added dimension of possible separation from your family and loved ones while the case is pending. In many situations a domestic violence offense is alleged by one party to get the upper hand in a contemplated divorce proceeding. In every domestic violence case, some level of order of protection will be issued. Since an order of protection can result in you needing to vacate your home or have no contact with the victim it is important to seek legal counsel as soon as you have been arrested for a domestic violence case.
A conviction for a domestic violence crime can have significant societal stigma and negative ancillary consequences on your reputation and ability to seek employment. Anyone convicted of a violent domestic violence crime is prohibited from owing or possessing any kind of firearms. Every individual who is arrested for domestic violence will be issued an order of protection which requires you to immediately surrender and not possess any firearms while the case is pending.Frequently Charged Domestic Violence Crimes
- Breach of the Peace
- Disorderly Conduct
- Risk of Injury to a Minor
- Sexual Assault
- Unlawful Restraint
- Violation of an Order of Protection
If you have been arrested for a domestic violence crime, or if you are under police investigation regarding a domestic violence incident, it is imperative that you retain the services of an aggressive and experienced Stamford domestic violence defense attorney. Stamford criminal defense lawyer Allan F. Friedman has more than 30 years of experience defending domestic violence accusations in Fairfield County and throughout the State of Connecticut. Attorney Friedman’s objective in handling domestic violence cases is to obtain the best possible result for his clients, and have charges dismissed or reduced when possible, while working to bring families together.Frequently Asked Questions About Domestic Violence
- What Makes a Crime a “Domestic Violence” Offense?
- Do the Police Have to Make an Arrest If My Partner Doesn’t Want to “Press Charges”?
- Can the Victim Get the State’s Attorney to “Drop the Charges”?
- What Is an Order of Protection?
- If the Victim Did Not Want a Criminal Order of Protection Issued or Wants the Current Order Modified – What Can Be Done?
- Can a Victim Give Permission to Modify or Change a Criminal Order of Protection?
- Is It Possible to Have the Conditions of Release Modified?
- What Are My Chances of Serving Jail Time for a Domestic Violence Charge?
- What Is the Role of the Family Relations Office in a domestic violence case?
- What Is the Best Course of Action If I Am Arrested for a Domestic Violence Crime?
It is the relationship between the victim and the defendant that determines whether or not a crime is classified and handled as a domestic violence crime. Since domestic violence offences are treated more seriously than normal criminal cases, this distinction is imperative. Domestic violence offense are also commonly known as “family violence” crimes. In order to be classified as a family violence crime the offense must have an element of actual violence or the threat of some form of violence. In addition, the parties must have a familial relationship. Some examples include people who have been in a dating or sexual relationship, parties that are married or have child in common or live together.
For example if someone meets a complete stranger on the street and punches them in the face – that could be the crime of assault in the 3rd degree. It is not a family violence crime because there is no familial relationship between the parties. If that same offense occurred between a couple that was dating it would be a domestic violence crime because the parties are in an intimate relationship.
The best Stamford criminal defense lawyers will tell you that Connecticut law requires the police to make an arrest when there is probable cause that a domestic violence crime has occurred. So even if the victim does not want to cooperate and says that they do not want to press charges or make any statement the Police will still make an arrest if they have evidence of a crime taking place, such as statements from neighbors or witnesses. Often victims of domestic violence cases do not want to have their significant other arrested, however, pursuant to Connecticut law the police must make an arrest if they have found evidence that a domestic violence crime has occurred regardless of the victim’s position. The fact that the victim does not want to press charges or wants the charges dropped will make it easier to resolve your domestic violence case, but it is not a guarantee that the State’s Attorney and family relations officer will follow the victim’s wishes.
No. Lots of people mistakenly think that if the victim of the crime does not want to go forward with the case they have the power to “drop the charges.” In the area of domestic violence it is very common for victims who have been repeatedly abused many times by the same person to come to Court and request that the charges be dropped so that they can reconcile with the alleged abuser. State’s Attorneys are not going to go along with these requests because the Courts have concerns for the safety of victims and what will happen if criminal orders of protection are lifted or vacated. For this reason State’s Attorneys are usually unwilling to take action on such requests. The State of Connecticut is the entity which is prosecuting the case on behalf of the people of the State. While the victim’s input in accordance with our State Constitution must be considered in any resolution of a criminal case, the State’s Attorney is never going to drop or nolle a case upon the request of the victim unless the facts of the case warrant it and until the State is assured that the situation is safe for the victim.
When someone is arrested for a domestic violence case in Connecticut the court must enter an order of protection on the next business day by operation of statute. Every single arrest for domestic violence results in the issuance of an order of protection. There are three levels of orders of protection.
The lowest level is called the “partial” order of protection. This level of order requires you to surrender all firearms and orders you not to assault, threaten, annoy or stalk the protected party. You are allowed to contact the protected party (victim) with this entry level order of protection. You are also allowed to reside with the protected party. However, if you violate the terms of the order then you could be charged with a felony offense of violation of an order of protection.
The middle level order of protection is known as the residential stay away order. This order includes all of the prohibitions of the “partial” order of protection and in addition it restricts you from entering the residence of the protected party. This can be major inconvenience, especially it you happen to reside with the protected party. You may still contact the protected party and meet with the protected party in other locations with this order.
The most restrictive order of protection is the full no contact order. This order includes all of the prohibitions of the previous two orders plus a full no contact order which prohibits any contact in any manner with the protected party. Obviously, if you have children in common with the protected party or want to continue a relationship with the protected party this order will make it very difficult.
It is important to understand that an order of protection remains in effect until and unless it is modified by an order of the court. The victim does not have the power to modify an order of protection. It is imperative to comply fully with any order of protection as a violation of the order could result in a felony charge of violation of an order of protection.
At a domestic violence arraignment which takes place the next business day after a domestic violence arrest the Court will impose criminal orders of protection in favor of the victim. Often victims will come to Court and inform family relations that they do not want any orders of protection and want to continue to live with the accused. The Courts are more concerned with protecting victims of domestic violence and providing a “cooling off” period than accommodating the desires of victims. The victim does not decide what level of order of protection will be entered by the Court. The office of family relations usually makes the initial decision based upon a screening of the parties and a review of the facts of the case. Once a criminal order of protection has been issued you can apply to have it modified, however, you need to go about it the right way and have a good argument to convince the Court why the order of protection should be modified. Usually, the court will want to see some sort of personal progress, either through therapy or participation in anger management classes in order to consider lowering the level of order of protection. If you want to modify a criminal order of protection you should seek the advice and counsel of an experienced Stamford criminal defense attorney.
No. No matter what the victim tells you can not violate the terms of a criminal order of protection. Very often people are confused because they feel that when a no contact order has been issued it is “ok” if the victim is contacting them. This is not correct. Under the law if there is a no contact order you can’t have any interaction with the victim regardless of who initiated the contact. The violation of a criminal order of protection is a class D felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail. Only a Court can modify the terms of a criminal order of protection once it is in effect. If you want to have the terms of an order of protection modified you should seek the services of an experienced Connecticut family violence defense lawyer.
If you have a domestic violence case pending and the Court has imposed restrictive conditions of release which require you to attend classes and meetings which conflict with your work schedule and are unduly burdensome it is possible to get the requirements modified. If you have private health insurance or can afford to pay out of pocket for treatment with a private therapist usually you can substitute the Court ordered treatment programs with private counseling which can be a lot more convenient and flexible.
Unless there is a serious injury involved or multiple violations of a criminal order of protection 99% of domestic violence cases are resolved without the imposition of any jail sentence. Most cases wind up being dismissed either by the state dropping the charges or by using the family violence education program. This does not mean that you could not face the possibility of a criminal conviction which could significantly impact your future employment prospects or have adverse immigration consequences. Also, restrictive and lengthy periods of probation are also a possibility. You should treat every allegation of domestic violence seriously as the State will zealously prosecute every case.
By operation of statute every domestic violence arrest requires a mandatory next day arraignment. The office of family relations will meet with you prior to your arraignment to ask you questions to ascertain the level of risk or danger the victim faces. Family relations can either accept or not accept your case for resolution with the assistance of the office of family relations. The family relations officer will review the facts of the case, ascertain the position of the victim and make recommendations to the court concerning the level of order of protection that is needed. It is very important to cooperate fully with the family relations officer and listen to their suggestions. Also, often the family relations officer will make recommendations to the State’s Attorney about the disposition of your case. An experienced Connecticut domestic violence attorney can act as your advocate when meeting with the family relations officer and coordinate the best possible resolution for your case.
The most important thing you can do to help your case is to remain silent. You have the right to refuse to answer questions from the Police and also from the office of family relations. The admissions of the accused are some of the most powerful evidence that the State’s Attorney has against you so don’t help them make their case and maintain your silence. Let your attorney do any talking for you. Another important thing you can do is to carefully document any evidence of any injuries that you or the victim sustained while you can with your camera equipped smart phone. Very often this kind of evidence can be invaluable. When dealing with the Police always remain professional, polite and cooperate but insistent on your right to have a Stamford criminal defense lawyer present before you have to answer any questions.
We provide a free initial consultation. We have more than 30 years of experience throughout the State of Connecticut defending family violence crimes.. We will discuss your goals of the representation which are usually a dismissal or a reduction of the charges and any special concerns that you may have. Often working with an experienced Stamford domestic violence attorney can have a significant impact upon the outcome in your case.
If you have been arrested for a domestic violence crime in Connecticut do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman. We work on a flat fee basis and our rates are reasonable. Call Attorney Friedman at (203) 357-5555 to schedule your free initial consultation we are available 24/7. Or you can contact us online for a prompt response.