If you were arrested for domestic violence, it is important to know that Connecticut law treats these offenses differently than other criminal allegations. One of the biggest differences is a speedy arraignment. Someone arrested for domestic violence will be arraigned the next day that the court is open.
Decisions made at the arraignment will significantly impact the rest of the case, so it is critical to have a New Haven domestic violence lawyer by your side. Domestic violence charges can affect your reputation, family life, and future employment opportunities. A history of these charges influences divorce settlements and child custody decisions. It is essential to have legal representation from the beginning of the case.
Police Must Arrest Dominant Aggressor
A common belief is that police must make an arrest whenever they respond to a domestic violence call. This is not entirely accurate, but if police respond to a call and believe that domestic violence has occurred, Connecticut General Statutes §46b-38b requires them to arrest the person they believe to be the dominant aggressor.
The arrest is based solely on probable cause to believe that a domestic violence crime occurred. The police must make the arrest even over the objection of the alleged victim.
A domestic violence arrest has immediate collateral consequences. For instance, the arrested person must surrender any guns they own within 24 hours. If children were present during the incident, the police would report it to the Department of Children and Families (DCF). A parent should not speak with a DCF investigator or caseworker before consulting a New Haven domestic violence attorney.
Next-Day Arraignment for Domestic Violence Cases in New Haven
The law requires an arraignment for an accused offender on the next business day after an arrest. Before the arraignment, the accused must meet with a Family Relations Officer. The Family Relations Officer will recommend conditions of release to the court, and their recommendation holds great weight. A local attorney should be present to guide the meeting and represent the person accused of family violence.
After hearing the impressions of the Family Relations Officer, the judge will set the terms for the accused’s conduct until the next hearing, which could be several weeks away. The judge could enter one of three types of orders:
- A residential stay-away order barring the accused from returning to the residence of the other person involved in the incident
- A partial protective order directing the accused not to stalk, threaten, harass, abuse, or assault the alleged victim
- A full protective order banning the accused from having any contact with the alleged victim, including by phone, text, or interactions on social media
Even the least severe of these orders, a partial protective order, could be devastating if the accused and the alleged victim live together or have children together. Violating the terms of a protective order or conditions of release is a Class D felony, often a more serious crime than the original domestic violence offense. As the case proceeds, an accused person and their New Haven lawyer could ask the court to modify a protective order. If the protected person agrees, courts often grant the requests.
Resolving Domestic Abuse Charges
Everyone charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. An accused person who wishes to contest the charges can request a criminal trial. However, other methods are available to resolve charges and spare all parties from the stress of criminal proceedings.
If the incident was a person’s first offense and did not involve children, weapons, or significant injury, domestic violence charges can often be resolved through participation in a diversion program. The court could order the accused to take a nine-week Family Violence Education Program (FVEP). If the accused person completes the program, adheres to the conditions of release, and completes any probation the court orders, the court will dismiss the domestic violence charges.
When there is a history of domestic violence or the incident injured the alleged victim, the FVEP may not be an option. More intensive family violence prevention programs might be more appropriate in such cases. Alternative diversionary programs might be available to address other issues like substance misuse or anger management. In some cases, courts will allow an accused to work with a private therapist on the issues that led to the incident instead of participating in one of the established programs.
Reach Out to a New Haven Attorney After a Domestic Violence Arrest
Even when an alleged domestic violence incident seems minor, the potential consequences can be devastating. If the police believed you were the dominant aggressor and arrested you, seek legal assistance immediately.
With so much at stake, do not try to manage a domestic violence arrest without legal representation. Reach out to a New Haven domestic violence lawyer at Ruane Attorneys today to discuss your case.