Norwalk Domestic Violence
If you were arrested for a domestic violence crime in Norwalk, CT, you are not alone. In the City of Norwalk, domestic violence crimes are the number one most common arrest. The state's attorney and family relations office at G.A. #20 Norwalk Superior Court takes the prosecution of family violence crimes very seriously. As the media has focused more attention on domestic violence, the reputational consequences of a domestic violence arrest have become severe. Even an arrest for a minor offense like disorderly conduct can have significant ramifications for your future ability to seek employment.Common Domestic Violence Offenses
Many people think of horrific crimes of violence when they hear the term domestic violence. However, most domestic violence arrests in Norwalk involve relatively minor verbal arguments, shouting matches, and situations where people have pushed or slapped each other. Of course, there are domestic violence cases that involve more serious felonies like aggravated assault and violations of orders of protection, but they are less common.
Some of the most common domestic violence offenses in Norwalk include:
- C.G.S. § 53a-181 - Breach of the Peace
- C.G.S. § 53a-182 - Disorderly Conduct
- C.G.S. § 53a-61 - Assault in the Third Degree
- C.G.S. § 53a-60 - Assault in the Second Degree
- C.G.S. § 53a-62 - Threatening in the Second Degree
- C.G.S. § 53a-64bb - Strangulation in the Second Degree
- C.G.S. § 53a-70b - Sexual Assault
- C.G.S. § 53a-96 - Unlawful Restraint
If someone calls 911 about a possible domestic violence crime, the police are required by statute to make an arrest if they find probable cause that a crime has taken place. Probable cause is a low evidentiary standard. It does not matter if the victim does not want to "press" charges. The law requires the police to make an arrest.
Very often, the victim refuses to cooperate with the police and does not want the abuser arrested. The police will make an arrest if they can determine that a crime was committed, for example, through the statements of an eye witness. In many instances, by the time police respond to a 911 call, the victim may have reconciled with the abuser or calmed down. If police find evidence of a crime, e.g., scratch marks, bruises, etc. they are mandated to make an arrest by law.
In many situations, victims will later contact the state's attorney and ask them to drop the charges. Many people are under the misconception that having the victim contact the state's attorney can lead to the state dropping the case. While the state will undoubtedly consider the victim's input in deciding how to dispose of any particular case, the state's attorney ultimately makes the decision whether to prosecute the case.Mandatory Next Day Arraignment in Court
Connecticut law requires that anyone who is arrested for a domestic violence case must appear in court the next business day for a domestic violence arraignment. The purpose of the arraignment is to impose a criminal order of protection to protect the victim and impose any conditions of release that may be required in your case.
Orders of protection come in different levels. During your arraignment, you will meet with an officer in the family relations office who will screen your case. Although you should arrive at the Norwalk court by 9:00 a.m., you should expect to be at court until at least 12:30 p.m. or 1:00 p.m. as many steps are involved in a domestic violence arraignment.
Most clients don't retain an attorney before they show up for a domestic violence arraignment because they often only have a few hours from the time of the arrest until their court appearance. Orders of protection can have a profound impact on your life and are difficult to modify once they are imposed. It recommended having a Norwalk domestic violence attorney to counsel you in the process and defend your rights during the arraignment.Interview with Family Relations Officer
When you appear at Norwalk Court for your domestic violence arraignment, the first place you should go is to the office of family relations. The family relations officers are located in the hallway directly to the right after you clear the security checkpoint. Check-in with a family relations officer and let them know that you are present. It would help if you were patient as often it takes some time for the police reports to come in and get reviewed.
The purpose of the meeting with family relations is to complete a computer screening program. Family relations utilizes a standardized series of questions to determine your risk score. Based upon the allegations contained in the police report and your risk score, the family relations office will be making suggestions to the judge about what kind of criminal orders of protection should be issued.
Most of the time, the court is going to follow the recommendations of the office of family relations. That is why it is so important that your meeting with family relations goes smoothly and why it is always recommended that you retain an experienced Norwalk domestic violence defense lawyer to represent you during domestic violence arraignments.Criminal Orders of Protection
In virtually every domestic violence case, the court is going to issue some form of criminal order of protection in favor of the victim. In most scenarios, the court is merely going to go along with the recommendations of the family relations office. Usually, the criminal order of protection forms has already been drafted in advance by the family relations officer for the judge's signature.
There are three different levels of criminal orders of protection that can be imposed during a domestic violence arraignment. The entry-level or base order, which is the least restrictive, is known as the "partial" criminal protective order which prohibits you from annoying, harassing, or assaulting the victim during the pendency of the case.
The next most restrictive criminal order of protection is the midlevel order and is known as the "full" order, which is some people refer to as the "residential stay-away order." This order prohibits you from entering the residence of the victim, and also you must obey the limitations of the "partial" order. You have to vacate the family home during the pendency of the case or until the court modifies the order.
The most restrictive and severe criminal order of protection is known as the "full no contact" order, which means you can have no contact with the victim at all. Where there are minor children involved and visitation arrangements, need to be coordinated often, the court will provide a means for some form of text communication between the parties to coordinate visitation arrangements.
Any violation of an order of protection , no matter how slight or "technical," is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The victim can't authorize you to modify a criminal order of protection or initiate contact. Only a court can modify a criminal order of protection.
It can be somewhat shocking and overwhelming for many first-time domestic violence offenders, many of whom may be facing their first encounter with the criminal justice system to suddenly come face to face with such heavy-handed and life-changing criminal orders of protection. In some situations, these orders are the result of minor verbal disagreements. If you are facing this situation, it is time to get an experienced Norwalk domestic violence defense attorney in your corner.Resolution of Domestic Violence Cases
Of course, in every domestic violence case, our primary objective, if at all possible, is to avoid any criminal record of any kind and have the charges dismissed. In less serious cases such as breach of the peace and disorderly conduct where there are no allegations of physical injuries, simply completing the court-ordered anger management or substance abuse treatment may be enough to convince the state's attorney to drop or "nolle"the charges. In other situations, some work with the office of the victim's advocate may be needed to get the victim on board with a proposed disposition, which involves the dismissal of charges against you.
For clients who are facing more severe allegations or in situations where the victim is insistent upon the prosecution, the next level would be a diversionary program known as the family violence education program, which consists of an educational component and would lead to the dismissal of all charges against you. Also, the accelerated rehabilitation program is an option for certain charges such as risk of injury to a minor, which does not qualify for the family violence education program.
The best method to achieve the optimal resolution in any domestic violence case depends on the specific facts of the case itself. With over 30 years of experience in defending Norwalk domestic violence cases, Attorney Allan F. Friedman will leave no stone unturned to protect your rights and obtain the best possible outcome.
There Are so Many Steps to a Domestic Violence Case in Norwalk, Where do I Start?
If you have been arrested for domestic violence, you should immediately contact a Norwalk domestic violence attorney to go over the details of your case. We will gladly examine your specific situations and advise you on the best way to proceed. We work on a reasonable flat fee basis. Call Attorney Friedman at (203) 847-2000 to schedule your free consultation and initial case evaluation - we are available 24/7- 365 days a year. Or you can contact us online for a prompt response.Additional Norwalk Domestic Violence Resources
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