New Canaan Domestic Violence Investigations
When the police come to your home in response to an alleged family violence incident, it triggers a cascade of other complications. Knowing what is coming next could help you avoid some of the pitfalls of domestic violence investigations in New Canaan.
How Does a Domestic Violence Investigation Begin?
A New Canaan domestic violence investigation begins when the police arrive at the site of the alleged disturbance. They will inquire whether there are weapons at the location and if so, remove them. They will also find out if any children live at the location and whether they were home during the alleged incident.
When two parties in a family violence situation accuse each other, the officers need not arrest both. Instead, they will consider and weigh the following factors:
- Whether either party requires protection;
- Whether self-defense or defense of others was a factor in the incident;
- Any threats made by either party against the other or a to third person;
- Any injuries either party suffered; and
- Any history of family violence.
After considering these factors, the officers will typically arrest the person they believe is the dominant aggressor in the incident if there is probable cause to believe a crime occurred. They will then speak with the alleged victim and conduct a Lethality Assessment Program (“LAP”) survey. The LAP helps to evaluate the risk of escalating violence in the short term. Unless the officers feel the alleged victim’s safety is at stake, they will help the individual develop a temporary safety plan for the next 24 hours and give them information about various resources.
Will the Department of Children and Families Perform an Investigation?
Police are mandated reporters under Connecticut General Statutes § 17a-101a and must inform the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) when a child might have been exposed to family violence. The report will include information the police obtained at the scene. DCF must open an investigation within 72 hours of receiving the report, and this investigation proceeds separately from the ongoing criminal consequences of the family violence arrest.
DCF social workers will visit the children’s home and interview all the occupants. They may visit the children’s schools and interview teachers in addition to interviewing your neighbors, extended family, and anyone who frequents the home where the children live.
DCF’s purpose is to ensure the home is safe and to connect families with services that can provide support. However, this investigation can be intrusive, and sometimes DCF workers stray outside of their lane. A seasoned domestic violence attorney can contact the agency and try to limit the scope of their investigation and frequency of their contact with a family following a report of domestic violence in New Canaan.
What Are the Potential Pitfalls of a DCF Investigation?
The DCF investigation could potentially uncover areas of concern for the agency. If so, DCF agents might ask the parents to develop and abide by a safety plan. Moreover, they could request that the family accept services such as drug or alcohol counseling, parenting classes, anger management, and other interventions.
Parents should be cautious when engaging in safety planning or agreeing to recommended services. If the parent initially agrees and then drops out of the program or does not comply with its requirements, DCF can use the non-compliance as evidence of an unwillingness to correct an unsafe condition. In some cases, the agency could cite non-compliance in support of a petition to remove the children from their home.
Contact a New Canaan Attorney to Respond to a Domestic Violence Investigation
Being arrested or charged with a family violence offense can cause significant stress and has the potential to affect every part of your life. The stakes are high, and mistakes could have far-reaching consequences. Do not risk your family. Click here to visit our Avvo profile with over 300 certified reviews from past clients, and call an experienced attorney from the Law Offices of Mark Sherman as soon as possible for help with your New Canaan domestic violence investigation.