Connecticut Domestic Violence
Being arrested for or charged with domestic violence in Connecticut can turn your entire world upside down in the blink of an eye. The state of Connecticut has robust protections in place for victims of domestic violence, and alleged offenders are treated harshly under the law. Imagine for a moment that a heated argument between you and your spouse gets out of control, and the police show up at your door. You could end up being arrested, thrown out of your own home, and separated from your family, all because of what seemed at the time like a minor dispute. There is no doubt that domestic violence is a serious and pervasive problem in Connecticut and across the United States, and victims of domestic violence deserve to be protected. But all too often, innocent people end up facing criminal charges for false allegations of abuse. If you have been arrested for domestic violence in Connecticut, don’t wait to get legal help. Contact a reputable Connecticut domestic violence defense lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
Connecticut Domestic Violence Laws
In Connecticut, domestic violence, also known as family violence, is defined under CGS § 46b-38a (1) 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.” This includes current and former spouses, people in a dating relationship, people living in the same household, family members related by blood or marriage, and people who have a child together, even if they were never married. Similar to some other states, Connecticut does not recognize domestic violence as a separate criminal offense. Rather, the term “family violence” is used to refer to violent crimes that are committed against family or household members. Some examples of domestic violence-related crimes that can result in criminal charges in Connecticut include:
- Sexual assault
- Disorderly conduct
- Breach of the peace
- Violation of an Order of Protection
Mandatory Arrest for Domestic Violence
New laws in Connecticut make it mandatory for police to make arrests if they find probable cause that a domestic violence crime has occurred, even if the alleged victim does not wish to press charges. In fact, even if the alleged victim initially claims that an act of domestic violence occurred and then later decides to “drop the charges,” the state will continue to aggressively prosecute the case. This situation becomes particularly complicated in cases involving false allegations of domestic violence. It is not uncommon for innocent people to be falsely accused of domestic violence in Connecticut. In fact, this tactic is sometimes used by one spouse against another as a means of getting revenge for a perceived transgression or gaining leverage in a contested divorce or child custody case. The law skews heavily in favor of the accuser in domestic violence situations, and if you have been falsely accused by an intimate partner or family member, it is up to you to hire an attorney who can help you right that wrong.
Penalties for Domestic Violence Charges
The criminal and family courts in Connecticut take matters of domestic violence or family violence very seriously, and if you find yourself facing criminal charges for a domestic violence-related crime, such as assault or stalking, the potential penalties you could encounter upon conviction are severe. For instance, if you are accused of assaulting an intimate partner or family member, you could face criminal charges for first-, second- or third-degree assault.
The crime of assault in the first degree (C.G.S.§ 53a-59) is a Class B felony carrying a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison (with a five-year or ten-year minimum, depending on the circumstances of the case) and up to $15,000 in fines.
The crime of assault in the second degree (C.G.S.§ 53a-60) is a Class D felony carrying a potential penalty of up to five years in prison, probation, and up to $5,000 in fines.
The crime of assault in the third degree (C.G.S.§ 53a-61) is a Class A misdemeanor carrying a potential penalty of up to one year in jail, probation, and up to $2,000 in fines.
You could also face additional domestic violence-related consequences for assaulting an intimate partner or family or household member, possibly including domestic violence conditions of release, criminal orders of protection, and mandatory completion of a domestic violence treatment program or alcohol or drug counseling program.
Domestic Violence Protective Orders
In domestic violence cases, a protective order is a court order that is criminal in nature, issued against the alleged offender after he or she has been arrested for committing a violent crime against a family or household member. There are three main types of protective orders issued in Connecticut domestic violence cases:
- Partial order – Orders you to refrain from annoying, harassing, or assaulting the victim while the case is pending.
- Residential stay-away order – Orders you to refrain from annoying, harassing, or assaulting the victim and also orders you to stay away from the victim’s home, even if you live together.
- Full no-contact order – Orders you to refrain from having any contact with the victim at all while the order is in effect.
Take note that violating the terms set forth in a criminal Order of Protection is a separate offense under Connecticut criminal law, a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Fighting Domestic Violence Charges in CT
A domestic violence conviction in Connecticut can result in devastating criminal penalties and leave you with a criminal record that follows you for the rest of your life. That is why you need the help of a skilled Connecticut domestic violence defense attorney who knows the ins and outs of the law and can ensure that your legal rights are protected at every stage of your criminal case. Time is of the essence when it comes to domestic violence cases and retaining the services of a knowledgeable defense lawyer right away after a domestic violence arrest can significantly improve your chances of getting the criminal charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense or securing an acquittal at trial.