If things have been tense at home, arguments can escalate quickly. Maybe you said or did something that you regret. And maybe in the heat of the moment, your spouse called the police. Now you are dealing with a domestic violence charge.
What Happens After You’re Charged with Domestic Violence?
If you are charged with domestic violence, you will immediately have court the next day. Then, you have to attend an arraignment. At that point, the judge will issue a protective order. The judge will either issue a full protective order or a partial order. A full protective order means absolutely no contact with the other party. A partial protective order means that you can have contact but you can’t threaten or harass the other party.
At the arraignment court date, you need to meet with family relations before the case is even called. During the meeting, you will be interviewed by a family relations person. Then the ” victim” in the case is contacted by the victim’s advocate and they talk to the victim’s advocate. They then give a statement so their side of the story is in the file.
Usually the case will be continued for about four weeks and then you have to go back and meet with family relations on your own. Your lawyer can be present but they’re not allowed to say anything or do anything at this time.
If this is your first offense, you can usually do some type of private counseling or a court-ordered treatment called The Family Violence Education Program. Then in most cases the charges will be thrown out. This happens unless there’s something serious involved in the case, such as broken bones to the other party.
A lot of my clients ask me if the protective order is the same thing as a restraining order. To the average person, these terms are interchangeable. But legally, they are a little different. A protective order is ordered in a criminal case by the judge and has to do with a criminal case. A restraining order mostly occurs in a civil case and is based out of civil court. A restraining order has nothing to do with an arrest.
The protective order goes away completely once the charges are dismissed. That would happen once the agreed upon counseling is completed. In the meantime, if it’s a full protective order and the order is between you and your spouse, you might need to communicate with each other. You probably have to communicate about your children, finances, etc. If this is the case, your lawyer can file motions to modify the protective order. For example, your lawyer can try to change the full order to a partial one. This will mean that you can move back into the home and that could be done while the charges are still pending.
Many times with protective orders, we come across a situation where the spouse who called the police feels that they overreacted and wants to have the protective order dismissed. It is important to understand that protective orders cannot be modified immediately. A motion needs to be filed and heard over an oral argument before any changes can be made to the protective order. This does take time, but your lawyer can file for changes to your protective order if that is something that you and your family want.
Family Violence Education Program
Many times if you are a first time offender, you will participate in the Family Violence Education Program. If you are a multiple offender, there is something called an Explore program that you will likely have to complete. This program is a 26-week treatment program for domestic charges that the court sometimes utilizes.
These programs are designed to rehabilitate you and make sure that you don’t have these issues with your spouse in the future.
While each domestic violence case is different, there is a general timeline that most cases follow. Generally in Connecticut the domestic violence cases are continued month to month. There are four weeks between every court date. So on the first date you have the arraignment, and then you go back in a month. On the second date, you’d most likely make the application to the Family Violence Education program. Judges usually want you to complete this program as part of the rehabilitative process. Then on the third court date, it would be granted and then you would have a certain amount of time to get your classes done for the program. Usually the time limit for your program is less than a year. Then you will have a dismissal date.
These are some basic facts about the Connecticut domestic violence process. We have dealt with many of these cases in our office. If you need help with your charge, contact an attorney.