First-Time Westport Domestic Violence Offenses
Being arrested on suspicion of a family violence offense in Connecticut can be a tense and stressful situation, particularly for people who have never been in legal trouble. Fortunately, you have options for addressing charges of this nature as a first-time offender that repeat offenders generally do not. A skilled defense attorney’s help is vital to making the most of those options after a first-time Westport domestic violence offense.
The Mandatory Arrest Rule for Domestic Violence
Prior to 2019, law enforcement authorities in Connecticut were required to arrest all parties involved in an alleged instance of domestic violence when there was any doubt as to who instigated the incident. Currently, however, law enforcement officers have the authority to decide which party is the “dominant aggressor,” and arrest only them on suspicion of family violence. This is done “upon speedy information”—in other words, based on how they interpret a situation in the moment.
Importantly, this is still a mandatory arrest law. This means that law enforcement officers must arrest anyone they suspect may have committed a domestic violence offense regardless of the relationship between them and the other parties involved, or whether the alleged target of that violence wants an arrest to happen. Additionally, while alleged targets of domestic violence can cooperate with law enforcement and court authorities in pursuit of a favorable outcome for a defendant, they cannot request that charges be dropped before a trial.
Another thing to expect after a first-time Westport domestic violence arrest is the imposition of a temporary protective order during the initial arraignment. Depending on how the court interprets the alleged offense, this order may prohibit any further family violence by the defendant or place substantial restrictions on how physically close they can be to the protected parties. Either way, the order will last until the defendant’s criminal case ends, at which point a conviction might prompt the court to impose a long-term criminal protective order.
What Is the Family Violence Education Program?
First-time domestic violence offenders in Westport and throughout Connecticut who stand accused of misdemeanor offenses are often eligible to apply for participation in the Connecticut Family Violence Education Program (“FVEP”). This program would serve as an alternative to criminal prosecution. A $100 application fee and $300 program fee are associated with the FVEP, and the program entails nine 60- to 90-minute classes with mandatory attendance.
Someone who completes the FVEP is eligible to get their domestic violence charge dropped sometime between 6 and 24 months after their first FVEP class. Additionally, with help from seasoned legal counsel, it is often possible to get all records of a domestic violence arrest erased from public view following the successful completion of the FVEP.
Let a Westport Attorney Help Resolve First-Time Domestic Violence Offenses
Reacting proactively after a first-time Westport domestic violence offense is essential to protecting your long-term best interests. Call the Law Offices of Mark Sherman today to discuss your legal options, and click here to view our Avvo profile reviews.