Getting Your Domestic Violence Arrest Dismissed

A recent national study revealed that Connecticut has the highest national “dual arrest” rate in the country, meaning that when Connecticut police respond to a 911 call for a domestic violence dispute, they arrest both parties more than any other state in the country.

What this means is that the domestic violence courts must figure out how who, if anyone, should be criminally liable, who was the aggressor, and most importantly, how to resolve the family safety issues and punish the appropriate parties. That is quite a task to ask of our Connecticut domestic violence prosecutors, judges, and social workers.

Nevertheless, these teams try their best and will often conduct assessments and evaluations of each case, and will frequently “nolle” or “dismiss” many of the minor domestic violence arrests in the domestic violence courts, particularly for arrests in Connecticut for Disorderly Conduct, Breach of Peace and Third Degree Assault.

After a case is over, however, a domestic violence criminal lawyers  continue to field questions about background checks and expungement issues, as people arrested for domestic violence in Connecticut do not understand the difference between a “dismissal” and a “nolle” of their Connecticut criminal arrest. These legal concepts, while technical, carry very different and significant consequences on your life, which we will try to distill in this article.

The Definition of a Nolle in Connecticut

A nolle in Connecticut is short for the legal term “nolle prosequi” which means “refusal to prosecute” in Latin. A nolle (mistakenly spelled in Connecticut as nollie or nolly) refers to scenarios when the prosecutor (also called the State’s Attorney or District Attorney) decides to drop your domestic violence arrest and charges.

When your case is nolled, the following happens: you get your bond money back, you no longer have to come to court, all criminal protective orders are terminated, and you are no longer required to comply with any court-ordered conditions of release such as AIC, counseling, no-contact orders, or random drug or alcohol testing.

The downside of a nolle is that once a case is nolled, the prosecutors have the right to re-file the charges against you for a period of 13 months from the nolle date. This right of Connecticut state prosecutors to re-open a nollied case gives people arrested for domestic violence crimes in Connecticut serious concern, especially because prosecutors have wide discretion to re-open a case under these nolle rules.

Prosecutors very rarely re-open nolled cases, and instead will just charge someone with a nolled case with a new criminal arrest. The good news is that after the 13-month time period, the case is automatically dismissed by operation of law, at which point all arrest records and reports are destroyed, erased and expunged.

Why Dismissal of Your Arrest is Best (But Not Always Possible)

Once your Connecticut criminal arrest is dismissed, Connecticut’s Erasure Statute—C.G.S. § 54-142a—kicks in and automatically orders the erasure and destruction of all of your arrest records. The statute even goes further by dictating that once your Connecticut domestic violence criminal arrest is dismissed, you can even “swear under oath” that you have never been arrested. This statutory entitlement is particularly helpful to people arrested for Disorderly Conduct, Assault and other domestic violence crimes in Connecticut, who can now answer the question on job applications “Have you ever been arrested?” with am emphatic “NO.”

So if a dismissal is so much more desirable than a nolle, then why wouldn’t everyone just try and get a dismissal of their domestic violence arrest in the Connecticut domestic violence courts. The answer is complicated and should be discussed at length with your Connecticut criminal lawyer attorney, as prosecutors are more likely to offer you a nolle before a dismissal, which you should generally take as quickly as possible.

The flip-side is that you can get your dismissal a bit more quickly in some Connecticut domestic violence cases if you choose to burn a pre-trial court diversionary program such as the Family Violence Education Program, or the Accelerated Rehabilitation Program. Again, the choice is challenging and should be carefully considered with your Connecticut criminal defense attorney

Proof My Arrest Was Dismissed or Nolled

One additional service some of the best Connecticut domestic violence lawyers can provide their clients with is obtaining certified and official documents proving that your Connecticut domestic violence arrest was in fact nollied or dismissed.

This involves working with the Chief Clerk’s office and filing a request for a court-sealed document, which can be very useful in the event you need to prove to an employer, Board of Directors, or insurance carrier that your domestic violence arrest was in fact nolled or dismissed. This is usually an additional service that your Connecticut criminal lawyer can provide after the conclusion of your Connecticut domestic violence arrest.

Contact an Attorney

Trying to decide on the best defense strategy for your Connecticut domestic violence arrest can be challenging, especially if you are trying to decide whether to go for a nolle or a dismissal of your Connecticut criminal case. Each has its advantages and comes with short-term and long-term consequences that can affect your career and reputation.

So if you have been arrested for a domestic violence crime in Connecticut, be sure to contact an experienced Connecticut domestic violence lawyer today. Our rates are reasonable and our focus is on results—getting your case dismissed or nolled as quickly as possible. Call us today at (203) 276-9443 for a consultation.

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