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Connecticut’s harsh penalties for domestic violence charges

People who are facing domestic violence charges should understand the possible consequences involved.

In July of this year, a Connecticut man was arrested and charged with violating a restraining order. According to Fox Connecticut, the man had been dating a woman who disappeared in the middle of July, about a month after she had filed the order against him. In the week leading up to the woman's disappearance, the man allegedly texted and called her a number of times.

Connecticut imposes strict penalties for people who violate such orders or those who are convicted of domestic violence charges. It is imperative to understand the law and how to put together a solid defense when these charges arise.

What constitutes domestic violence?

Under the state's laws, domestic or family violence is any incident that includes bodily injury, physical harm, assault, threatened violence or even stalking. The law states that any verbal argument or abuse is only classified as family violence if there is the likelihood that some type of physical violence is imminent.

These acts are considered family violence when they are committed against the following:

  • People related by blood or marriage
  • Spouses and former spouses
  • People who have a child together
  • Parents or their children
  • People who live together or who have lived together
  • People who have been in a relationship together

It is important to point out that the Connecticut law states that disciplining a minor child does not constitute family violence unless it crosses the line into abuse.

Protective order vs. restraining order

A judge in Connecticut could impose a protective order, which happens after someone has been arrested on domestic violence charges and are part of the defendant's bail or release from jail. A protective order prevents the defendant from threatening or assaulting the alleged victim. After a protective order is issued, the defendant may not enter the alleged victim's home. Violating the order is often considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison.

A restraining order differs because an arrest for a crime is not necessary for issuance. Instead, the alleged victim petitions the superior court. These orders will prevent the defendant from the same above behaviors and can be in effect for up to six months. Violating a restraining order is also considered a misdemeanor, which could result in up to a year in prison.

Family violence penalties

Connecticut does not charge people with family violence crimes separately; instead, someone who has committed such violence could face charges such as first-degree assault, sexual assault and stalking. Each of these crimes carries with it differing penalties. Felony charges - which apply to many domestic violence incidents - will include prison time of more than a year and hefty fines. If the crime is sexual in nature, the defendant may also have to enter the sex offender registry.

Further, the Department of Children and Families may launch an investigation into the situation. In some cases, a defendant could lose custody of his or her children. Having a criminal record can also lead to losing professional licenses or the opportunity to find gainful employment.

Building a solid defense to these crimes is imperative to maintaining freedom and saving relationships with some family members. Anyone who is facing a domestic violence charge should consult with an attorney.