Westport Domestic Violence Lawyer
If a person is accused of a crime against another person, assault or harassment for example, then a normal condition of their bail is that they have no contact with the alleged victim. But what happens if the alleged victim is a family member?
Under Connecticut law, this is considered a family violence crime. It would be inappropriate for the two people to continue living together, at least in the immediate aftermath of an arrest. For this reason, Connecticut’s courts issue protection orders concerning many issues, including contact between the parties and possession of firearms.
Westport domestic violence lawyers represent defendants who have been accused of family violence crimes, helping them to not only defend against these charges in criminal court, but to also minimize the effect that any protective orders will have on their lives.
Domestic Violence Laws in Connecticut
Connecticut renames “domestic violence” as “family violence” but the general concept remains the same. CT Gen Stat 46b-38a defines family violence as any criminal act that involves an act of violence against a family member. Family violence is not a crime in and of itself, but does trigger a number of actions that may be taken by police and the courts. The police may seize any firearms in the possession of the defendant, but must return them within seven days.
However, this provision, and many others, will be addressed by the court during an initial hearing after the arrest. The criminal court may issue a temporary family violence protective order during the arraignment stage of the proceedings. This order may prevent the defendant from:
- Imposing any restraint upon the liberty of the alleged victim
- Threatening or assaulting the alleged victim
- Entering the family dwelling of the alleged victim
A violation of this order is a crime in and of itself and is punishable by a term of imprisonment not to exceed 10 years and a fine of not more than $10,000. Under CT Gen Stat 53a-40e, if the defendant is found guilty of the underlying crime, and the crime is of a very serious nature, the protective order may become permanent.
In addition to the protective orders that may be issued by the criminal courts, people who have been under constant threat of physical violence by a family member may apply for a restraining order at the Superior Court. In these cases, the alleged victim may ask that the court not only prevent the alleged abuser from contacting them, but also that they make provisions concerning temporary child custody and visitation rights.
An initial hearing will be held within 14 days of the application. At this hearing, the order may be ended if the defendant can show that there was no threat of harm.
Alternatively, it may be extended for up to one year if the judge believes that there is a threat of harm. Any violation of these orders is considered a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment up to five years.
Contact a Westport Domestic Violence Attorney
People who have been charged with criminal acts that are classified as family violence have multiple factors to consider. On top of the already serious criminal accusations that would stand regardless of the identity of the alleged victim, attorneys need to consider any potential protective orders that may be issued by the courts in instances of family violence.
While domestic violence is not a crime in and of itself in Connecticut, it does open the door for enhanced penalties and the loss of child custody. In addition to the criminal accusations, a person who alleges fear of physical harm may apply for a civil restraining order that can adversely affect a person’s family structure and financial freedom.
Westport domestic violence lawyers represent clients who have been named as defendants in criminal cases both involving family violence and civil restraining orders. Westport attorneys fight to protect not only their clients’ freedom, but also their rights to continue as a fully functional family member. Contact today to see how they can help you.