Domestic Violence Victims
ARE YOU A VICTIM OF A CONNECTICUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CRIME?
For a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend or roommate who is a victim of a domestic violence arrest in Connecticut, understanding the Connecticut criminal court system can be overwhelming, especially if you are dealing with the physical and emotional aftermaths of the crime itself. Victims of Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan or Stamford Connecticut arrests for Disorderly Conduct, Assault Third Degree, Strangulation and Violation of Criminal Protective Orders will quickly find out that the first court date takes place the very next business morning at the Norwalk, Stamford, Bridgeport or Danbury Superior Courts. The best Connecticut crime victim lawyers and attorneys know that victims of a Connecticut domestic violence crime have important and specific rights during the criminal court process, affecting everything from the restraining / protective order, conditions of release, plea bargain negotiations, pre-trial diversionary program applications, and sentencing. However, many victims of Connecticut domestic violence arrests are intimidated by the court system and would prefer to have someone else speak up for them who understands the nuances and procedures of Connecticut criminal law. One choice they have is a court-appointed domestic violence victim advocate who is available in every courthouse to speak up for you. Another choice is hiring a top Stamford, Norwalk, Danbury or Bridgeport Connecticut domestic violence victim lawyer attorney to assist you through the process, and advocate aggressively for you in the courtroom.
Do Connecticut Domestic Violence Victims Need to Hire a Lawyer?
Why would a victim of a domestic violence arrest in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien, Wilton or Westport Connecticut even need to hire a lawyer? After all, they are not the ones who got arrested. But as the best Connecticut crime victim lawyers know, a domestic violence crime victim may want to actively participate in the prosecution of their loved one…either in support of an aggressive prosecution with strict conditions and penalties, or alternatively, in support of leniency for their loved one, in the form of a quick dismissal and immediate lifting of all protective and restraining orders. Being a victim of a Connecticut domestic violence arrest can have you feeling conflicted or confused. Top Connecticut criminal victim law firms frequently see victims come to court in support of the person arrested, hoping that they can convince the state’s attorney or judge to drop the case or not issue a Connecticut restraining / protective order so that the person arrested can come back home. Domestic violence cases are emotional and complicated, and a Connecticut domestic violence victim will need to make sure that their voice and position in the criminal case is not only heard, but is properly explained and justified to the judge and prosecutor. So if your husband or wife has been arrested for a domestic violence crime like Assault Third Degree, Disorderly Conduct, Breach of Peace, Threatening or Strangulation, then you might want to consult with a top Darien, Stamford or Greenwich Connecticut criminal lawyer attorney to decide if it would be worthwhile to have victim representation in your case.
Understanding the Connecticut Domestic Violence Criminal Court Process
The Connecticut domestic violence criminal court process involves several moving parts, especially on the first court date, which is called the arraignment. A person arrested for domestic violence in Fairfield County Connecticut must report promptly to their assigned domestic violence court in Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport or Danbury Connecticut by 9am on the very next business morning. Upon arrival, the person arrested will be ordered to sit with a court-appointed Family Relations Officer, who will question them and conduct a risk assessment as to whether it is safe for the person arrested to return home or be permitted to have contact with you, the victim. As a victim, either the police or criminal court will try to immediately notify you after your arrest of who you can speak with at court and what rights you have; however, top Stamford, Bridgeport and Danbury Connecticut criminal lawyers know that if the victim is not near his or her phone at the time of the call, they could completely miss the opportunity to provide useful information to the court (especially if the victim is tied up with work or child care responsibilities). Many times, the Family Relations Officer will want to interview you, the victim, to understand the relationship dynamic and get your opinion on whether you feel safe or fearful of the person arrested. Critically, what you say to the Family Relations Officers is not confidential and privileged; however, your one-on-one communications with your victim lawyer or your court-appointed domestic violence victim advocate are privileged and will not be disclosed to the judge, prosecutor or defense attorney, without your permission.
After these interviews, an arraignment hearing will be held before the Connecticut criminal judge, and a brief protective order / restraining order hearing will take place. After the judge hears from the prosecutor, bail commissioner, Family Relations officer, defense attorney, and either you, your victim advocate, or your top Greenwich or Fairfield Connecticut victim representation lawyer, the judge will usually issue a protective order against the person arrested, order conditions of release (drug testing, anger management, GPS device, etc.) and then transfer the case to the court’s domestic violence docket for a date that is a few weeks away. Remember, as a victim of a Connecticut domestic violence case in Stamford, Norwalk, Danbury or Bridgeport Connecticut court, you have a right to attend every court appearance, a right to be kept in the loop of what’s going on, and a right to share your opinions on the case with the judge and prosecutor.
I’m a Victim of Domestic Violence. How Do I Get a Restraining Order?
A major component of any Connecticut domestic violence arrest in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien or Westport Connecticut is the criminal protective / restraining order hearing that takes place at court on the business morning following the arrest. Court advocates will reach out to you that morning to check up on your safety and inform you that the hearing is scheduled to take place around noon. You, your court-appointed victim advocate, or your top Connecticut domestic violence victim lawyer attorney (or all 3 of you, if you prefer) have the right to appear at the restraining order hearing to address the judge. As with any Connecticut domestic violence arrest in Stamford, Greenwich or Norwalk Connecticut for Disorderly Conduct, Unlawful Restraining, Assault, or Protective Order Violation, you can ask the court for any of the 3 categories of protective orders: the Full No Contact Order, the Full / Residential Stay-Away order, or the Partial / Limited protective order. While you can read more about these orders and the protective order hearing process, understand that this is a critical point in the case, as this protective order will likely remain in effect for many weeks (or months). So if you are looking to argue for either a restrictive protective restraining order, or a lenient one, then it’s critical that the court not only understands clearly what you are asking for, but also understands WHY you are asking for it (i.e. that you feel afraid / safe, that your family member is in counseling, or that your family member has an out-of-control addiction problem). Whatever the case, consider hiring any of the best Connecticut criminal domestic violence victim law firms to assist you at this first court hearing and effectively communicate your position.
As a victim of a Connecticut domestic violence crime, you may receive an official looking court document in the mail, requiring you to appear at Stamford, Norwalk, Danbury or Bridgeport Superior Court for an assessment interview with the Office of Family Relations. If the form letter is from the Office of Family Re-lations, don’t be alarmed. This is actually an optional interview where you have a chance to speak with the Family Relations Officer supervising your case. Their role is important, as they act as the proverbial gatekeeper of information for the Connecticut domestic violence court judge and will reach out to you periodically for an update on your safety, family dynamic, and thoughts on the case. Be careful, however, as information you may think is helpful could actually backfire and undermine your position in the case. Statements like “with the exception of this arrest, my husband has not been violent for months” or “he’s not a violent guy…just when he drinks and take pills” certainly beg more questions than answers. So it all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish in domestic violence court: do you feel you need strict restraining orders or do you want leniency for your family member? Before meeting or speaking with the Family Relations Officers handling your case, it may be a good idea to consult with any of the best Connecticut crime victim lawyers and attorneys to fully prepare yourself for your interview with Family Relations.
A victim of a domestic violence arrest in the Stamford, Danbury, Bridgeport or Norwalk Connecticut domestic violence criminal courts has the right to be involved in the criminal court process from beginning to end. The Mark Sherman Law team of victim representation attorneys and lawyers encourage you to engage the services of the court-appointed and free domestic violence victim advocates who maintain offices in each domestic violence courthouse. They even provide a 24/7 emergency hotline for domestic violence emergencies and safe house services. And if you feel you also need the assistance of your own victim lawyer to represent you and advocate for your safety and protection (or in some cases, ask for leniency), then contact one of our domestic violence victim lawyers today. We will sit with you and your family members to craft a cost-effective case strategy with the goal of getting you the peace of mind you deserve. Call us today at (203) 276-9443.