The problem of domestic violence within families is very real. According to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control, nearly 3 of every 10 women in the US have experienced a form of what the CDC calls "intimate partner violence." This includes not only rape and physical violence, but also stalking.
Men can also be the victims of such violence. The CDC estimates that 1 in 10 men have experienced intimate partner violence.
There is also, of course, the problem of violence against children. Such violence is a major problem, regardless of whether it is classified as child abuse.
The legal system seeks to respond to domestic violence in several different ways. One of these is criminal prosecution, which is important in holding offenders accountable but is always an after-the-fact- response. By the time someone is prosecuted, harm has already been done.
This is where court orders come in, to offer more proactive protection. In Connecticut, two of the main types are:
- Restraining orders - The goal is to protect against threatened future harm by prohibiting someone from having contact with the person who has obtained the order. These are obtained in a civil proceeding.
- Protective orders - Unlike restraining orders, which are civil in nature, protective orders are a possible criminal consequence when someone is arrested for a family violence crime.
Arrest for Suspected "Family Violence" Leads to Protective Order
Under Connecticut law, family violence means any "physical harm, bodily injury or assault between family or household members." Even threats of physical harm fall into this definition. An officer who arrives on the scene and discovers that any of these conditions exist must arrest the suspected abusive family member. Once the accused has been arrested for the family violence crime, a court will issue the protective order. At this point, no crime has been proven, and the accused is just that: someone accused of a crime.
Connecticut protective orders are legal documents whose purpose is to protect the victim from abusive behavior by the accused. The order can prohibit the accused from entering the victim's home or imposing any restraint upon the victim's person or liberty. It also can order the accused not to threaten, harass, assault, molest, or sexually assault the victim, or to have no contact with the victim.
Consequences for Violating a Protective Order or Restraining Order
Once charges are filed and s the accused prepares a domestic violence defense, any bail or release that the court sets will require the defendant to follow the protective order. Any failure to comply with the order, therefore, will violate the defendant's bail or release. In response, the court can revoke the defendant's release - landing the defendant back in jail - or increase the defendant's bail. Whatever kind of violence the defendant commits that violates the protective order might be a crime, so the defendant can be punished accordingly for that conduct as well.
Lastly, violation of a protective order is itself a crime with severe punishments. Violating a protective order can result in imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. Additionally, entering the victim's home is a separate crime, criminal trespass, which can lead to up to a year of incarceration, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.
It is important to remember that those accused of family violence must get notice of the charges against them and a hearing at which they can argue their case. Defendants who are subject to a protective order should contact an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer, who will evaluate the charges against them and vigorously protect their rights under the law.