Alternative Incarceration Center in Connecticut
Connecticut domestic violence criminal lawyers see it all the time…people showing up at their first Connecticut domestic violence court date and having no idea what is actually going on.
First, they are required to be interrogated by a Family Relations Officer and they are not sure what to say or not to say to them. Then they are ushered into a Connecticut domestic violence restraining / protective order hearing where, in the matter of 1 to 3 minutes, a judge slaps a moderate to severe restraining order on them that last for months. Finally, after the hearing, the judge will
Finally, after the hearing, the judge will sometimes order you into “AIC” as a condition of your release and require you comply with one or more “AIC” conditions that will land you in jail if they are not strictly complied with.
Then they are ushered into a Connecticut domestic violence restraining / protective order hearing where, in the matter of 1 to 3 minutes, a judge slaps a moderate to severe restraining order on them that last for months. Finally, after the hearing, the judge will sometimes order you into “AIC” as a condition of your release and require you comply with one or more “AIC” conditions that will land you in jail if they are not strictly complied with.
So what is AIC? What does it stand for? Who are they? And why do you have to work with them? Keep reading to start getting ahead of the learning curve in Connecticut domestic violence arrests.
What Services Does AIC Provide?
AIC stands for Connecticut’s Alternative Incarceration Center (more recently, the marketing folks at Connecticut Superior Court have tried to rename it to a more euphemistic “Alternative in the Community” Center). Regardless of what the name-of-the-moment is, AIC is a not-for-profit service offered free of charge to the Connecticut Superior Court.
AIC offers a variety of services and resources to its “clients,” who are all defendants with pending cases in the Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport and Danbury Criminal Courts. Many of these cases are domestic violence arrests, and it is common for courts to order you into AIC at your first Connecticut domestic violence court date, called the “arraignment.”
Your first domestic violence court appearance will take place the first business morning after your arrest. First, you will be required to meet with the Office of Family Relations. Next, a Connecticut domestic violence restraining order hearing will take place. Then, the Superior Court judge will hear arguments from the Bail Commissioner and State’s Attorney (also called the prosecutor) about whether you should be ordered into AIC and mandated to participate in their counseling or alcohol / substance abuse programs.
Specifically, AIC offers anger management counseling, drug and alcohol counseling, drug and alcohol urine and hair follicle testing, mental health counseling, and job retraining programs. At your first court date for Connecticut domestic violence arrest, the court can order you to attend these programs or report for random testing as a condition of your release.
On their face, AIC programs seem to be helpful, well-intentioned and at no additional cost to you. So why would a Connecticut criminal attorney NOT want you to participate in them?
For starters, domestic violence lawyers want as few conditions hanging over their clients as possible, as any failure to comply with a condition can result in the raising of your bond and incarceration. Further, if you are involved in a bitter or contested divorce, then your spouse will use the AIC orders and conditions against you in divorce court, suggesting that you are in such crisis, that the criminal court had to issue these AIC conditions as part of your release.
Finally, AIC communicates directly with the court so during your AIC participation, your Connecticut criminal lawyer cannot run interference for you or control the flow of information between AIC and the court system (such as when you fail a drug or alcohol test). When you are not in AIC, you are permitted to pick and choose what information you share with the court, so long as you are honest with the court and abiding by the court’s orders and requests.
Is AIC Optional?
Another downside of AIC is that it is not optional. If you fail to comply with AIC conditions, then the domestic violence courts can find you non-compliant and either raise your bond and order you to jail, or it can dial up the Connecticut AIC conditions, making your conditions and requirements even more burdensome. The court will not always care about your work schedule, child care schedule or vacation schedule. The court’s priority is making sure you receive these services.
So if you are ordered into AIC, then you cannot decide on your own that you can skip a few classes or fail to show up for a breath or urine test. As Connecticut domestic violence criminal lawyers know, a missed test is considered a failed test by the Connecticut domestic violence courts.
The court will not always care about your work schedule, child care schedule or vacation schedule. The court’s priority is making sure you receive these services.
So if you are ordered into AIC in connection with your Connecticut domestic violence arrest for Disorderly Conduct, Strangulation, Risk of Injury or any other domestic violence crime, then you or your top Connecticut criminal attorney should argue aggressively against being ordered into AIC, especially if you can afford to pay for these services privately.
***An important note here…there are cases where admitting yourself voluntarily into AIC is actually beneficial and a good idea, especially in cases where you are charged with a serious domestic violence or drug / alcohol crime, and where you want to prove yourself to the prosecutors and criminal court judge that you can be sober or compliant with a rigid counseling regimen.
While domestic violence criminal lawyers are cautious to ask for AIC conditions for their clients, their primary goal is getting you the best possible result for your case, without setting you up to fail.
So don’t be surprised if you see some of the top Connecticut domestic violence criminal attorneys asking for AIC conditions in some of their more challenging cases. It can be a strategy that can pay big dividends down the road in your Connecticut domestic violence case.
How Do I Get Out of AIC?
While AIC may be a viable case strategy in some cases, it can be a snakepit for some people who are arrested for domestic violence who do not have a flexible work schedule to accommodate the time-consuming demands of their AIC conditions.
So how can you get out of AIC? It is usually not easy and the mere asking to get out of AIC raises the court’s suspicions that you are looking to skirt your court-ordered obligations of drug testing or counseling because you know that you may have more serious issues than the court initially suspected.
Accordingly, you must strategize with your attorney to craft the most persuasive and rational arguments as to why you should be released from AIC. A motion to modify your conditions of release must be filed with supporting documentation and legal arguments.
Then, at the hearing, you or your Connecticut criminal lawyer will have a chance to argue against AIC, hopefully convincing the court that you either no longer need AIC, or that the alternative to AIC you are proposing is comparable to AIC.
Benefits of An Attorney
So whether you have been ordered into AIC, or you are worried that you will be ordered into AIC at your first Connecticut domestic violence court date, you should contact a Connecticut domestic violence criminal lawyer attorney to protect you from unnecessary conditions of release and AIC conditions. Remember that at your first court date, the criminal court only has a few minutes to review your file and assess your case.
As a result, they often impose inappropriate and unnecessary conditions of your release, using AIC as a temporary band-aid for your Connecticut arrest when in fact you probably don’t even need one. An attorney will work quickly to try and get you discharged from AIC and attempt to get your underlying domestic violence criminal case dismissed as quickly as possible.