Connecticut Domestic Violence Trials
If you have been arrested for a domestic violence crime then you will likely be ordered to court on the next business morning. Top Connecticut domestic violence criminal lawyers who handle cases know that your first court domestic violence court appearance can be overwhelming and confusing. The first few hours of your first Connecticut criminal court appearance are critical—as you will first be required interview with a Family Relations Officer, and then you will be compelled to defend yourself in a protective / restraining order hearing (sometimes without an attorney) where you may be ordered out of your home or forbidden to have any contact with your spouse or children. Therefore if you have been arrested for a domestic violence crime, be sure to consult with a top Connecticut criminal lawyer before you walk into court. Being prepared for your first court date is the first step in taking control of your case and working your way toward a quick resolution of your charge.
Speaking with a Family Relations Officer
If you have posted bail or bond, or were released by the police on a Promise to Appear (also called a “PTA”), then you will be required to appear in the nearest Connecticut domestic violence court at 9:30am on the next business day morning. While the courtroom does not open until 10am, your criminal court case will not be called until the arraignment cases are heard by the judge around 11:30am – 12 noon. Prior to your arraignment, however, you are required to report to the Office of Family Relations so that a Family Relations Officer can interview you and conduct a quick risk-safety assessment of your case. The Family Relations Office is located in the basement level in Danbury Court, the third floor in Stamford Court, and the first floors in the Norwalk and Bridgeport Courts. This approximate 20-minute assessment interview takes place primarily to provide the court with additional background information, as the arraignment court judge is required by law to determine what kind of Connecticut protective / restraining order to issue in your case. Know that the best lawyers typically will warn you that everything you say to a Family Relations Officer can and will be used against you, so be very careful what you share during this interview, and definitely consider having your lawyer sit with you during the Family Relations interview. The last thing you need is to say something during this interview that will hurt your chances to get your criminal court case dismissed, or that will trigger a separate and unnecessary DCF Investigation against your family.
The Protective Order Hearings
Following your meeting with the Family Relations Officer, you will then be directed to the arraignment courtroom where a state prosecutor—called a State’s Attorney—will call your case (hopefully before the mandatory 1-2pm lunch break). When your case is finally called, you will step up to the counsel table, and the judge will immediately begin discussing the parameters and conditions of the Connecticut Criminal Protective Order that will be issued during the pendency of your case. As the best restraining order lawyers and attorneys appreciate, the criminal protective order hearing that takes place in Connecticut domestic violence court immediately following a domestic violence arrest usually proceeds in rapid-fire style. The judge will hear from all sides before issuing the protective order. Once the judge has heard everyone’s arguments, they will issue a Criminal Protective Order which can come in 3 forms: a Full No Contact order, a Full / Residential-Stay Away Order, or a Partial / Limited Protective Order, which is the least restrictive and most preferable order to be issued against you. If you are unhappy with the type of protective order that was issued at your first court date for your Connecticut domestic violence arrest, then you may ask your lawyer about how you can modify the protective / restraining order.
Importance of an Attorney
Some people who are going through a domestic violence arrest for the first time do not appreciate the significance of having a criminal arrest record and feel they can “just go it alone.” This misperception is exacerbated by some police officers who convince you that it’s not a big deal to receive a Connecticut Disorderly Conduct summons, or to have to appear in Connecticut domestic violence court for an Assault or Breach of Peace arrest. They explain that if you just tell the judge what happened, they will give you a warning / slap-on-the-wrist and close your case. Don’t be fooled by this police rhetoric. Cops say this to calm you down at the time of your arrest, to give you a false sense of comfort, all for the sole purpose of de-escalating your interaction with them during your arrest, as domestic violence arrests can sometimes escalate into very dangerous confrontations with the police. Know that domestic violence arrests—no matter what the exact charge is—are always serious, as your arrest will show up on every employment background check (or be sensationally published on the internet) for months, or even years, if not handled properly by a top Connecticut criminal lawyer.