What To Expect From a New Haven Domestic Violence Case
If you have been arrested for domestic violence, you now face the daunting task of facing these charges in court, which can be intimidating, chaotic and can have extreme consequences, including incarceration. Once you are in court you may not know what to do next, where you need to be, or what is going to happen. This only makes the situation even more intimidating.
To navigate through all this chaos and to ensure that all of your rights are protected, hire a New Haven domestic violence attorney at Billings & Barrett to represent you. At Billings & Barrett, our criminal defense attorneys will take the time to explain the process to you, discuss your options, answer your questions, and stand up for you every step along the way.
Meeting with Family Relations
On your first court date, you will have to meet with Family Relations. This is a department at the courthouse that assists the court with domestic violence cases. When you meet with Family Relations, they will ask you general information about yourself. In some cases, they may ask about the event itself. It is very important to remember that they are NOT your lawyer and anything you reveal to them can be used against you in the future.
After meeting with you and reviewing the file, the Family Relations officer will prepare the protective order and recommend whether the case will be “referred” to Family Relations or not. If the case is referred to Family Relations, it just means that Family Relations will monitor the case and you will have to check in with them on each court date.
In that situation, there are several possible outcomes and usually the outcome is recommended by Family Relations. Typically, it is beneficial if your case is referred to Family Relations. However, the referral does not suggest that there are not risks of incarceration or probation. Cases that are not referred to Family Relations are typically more serious in nature or involve someone with a previous record of domestic violence.
Please note at the outset that we use the term “victim” only because that is the term used by the judicial branch. We understand that there are false accusations made everyday, especially in cases involving domestic violence. Nevertheless, we have used the terms “victim” and “victims advocate” for clarity, as these terms are frequently used in the criminal justice system.
With that said, in 1996 the State of Connecticut enacted the Victim’s Right Amendment. As a part of that, the Office of the Victim Advocate was created and victims are guaranteed certain constitutional rights. The job of the victim advocate, in the context of your pending case, is to ensure that those rights are upheld. The victim advocate will contact the alleged victim, obtain any “victim input,” and convey that input to the state’s attorney and court. As your attorneys, we have access to this victim input.
Department of Children & Families
The Department of Children & Families (DCF) can be involved in domestic violence cases in several ways. If the alleged victim in your arrest is one of your children, the police (and, in fact, many other parties) are required to report any suspected abuse or neglect to DCF, which they would do shortly following your arrest. In other situations, DCF is the entity that begins the investigation that leads to your arrest.
In either scenario, DCF will conduct its own investigation that is separate from the police investigation. This may involve conducting interviews, taking statements from various people, and going to your home. Once its investigation is complete, the claim of abuse will either be “substantiated” or “unsubstantiated.”
The findings of DCF can be fought, as they can have a direct impact on your criminal case, as well as other consequences you may be unaware of. The appeals process for a DCF finding is complicated, and we would gladly assist you in this type of case.
What You Should Do Now
If you have been arrested for a domestic violence crime, there are several actions you should take. It would be unwise to worsen the situation, so make sure you follow instructions in order to protect your rights.
The worst decision you can make is to violate a protective order. See our page dedicated to Protective Orders. Not only is this considered a new crime that carries a penalty of up to 5 years in jail, but the court and the state’s attorney will use this to demonstrate that you are a danger to the alleged victim. In addition, violating a protective order is, in reality, violating a court order. As a result, the court will often suggest that it was “a slap in the face” and that the violation demonstrated a lack of respect for the court and the legal process.
What a Domestic Violence Attorney Can Do for You
The best decision you can make is to contact a New Haven domestic violence attorney. At Billings & Barrett, our attorneys will answer your questions, protect your rights and help you through the chaos of your arrest. The sooner you contact one of our attorneys, the sooner they can take control of the situation to avoid further harm to your life and reputation. It is important to recognize that certain rights must be preserved from the very beginning, or they may eventually be considered waived.