Family Violence Charges: What You Need to Know
Some families live in a constant state of high-conflict. Arguments are a daily occurrence and violence is always a risk. In other families, high stress and unusual events can push an otherwise non-violent person to a breaking point of physical aggression. When that happens and the police are called, domestic violence charges are often not far behind. Find out what you need to know if you are facing Connecticut family violence charges.
Domestic Violence is Family Violence in Connecticut
Most people have a good sense of what domestic violence looks like: physical aggression against a loved one or family member. Here in Connecticut, those acts are called “family violence.” You cannot be charged with domestic violence or family violence as a separate crime. Instead, you will be charged based on the thing that happened. Family violence can apply any time a crime involves injury or a fear of injury. Some of the most common of these crimes are:
- Sexual assault
What sets a family violence crime apart is the relationship between the alleged perpetrator and the victim. A charge will be marked as a family violence charge if the alleged victim is your:
- Spouse or former spouse
- Child’s other parent
- Relative by blood or marriage
- Current or former dating partner
However, family violence charges cannot be based on verbal abuse alone. There must be a present danger of physical violence. Just because you and your spouse have an argument doesn’t mean you should be charged with family violence. State law also excludes a parent disciplining a child from family violence unless that discipline crosses the line into child abuse.
What Happens When You are Charged with Family Violence Charges
When criminal charges get labelled as family violence charges, it triggers a different court process that includes a pretrial interview with family services and the potential for immediate protective orders. These processes can affect your rights, specifically your right to remain silent, and your ability to travel freely or go back to your home. Even though the arraignment and interview are required to happen one day after the charges are filed, anything you say and do there can affect your chances at defeating the underlying charges later on.
The protective orders resulting from these initial interviews often prevent defendants facing family violence charges from seeing their spouses, children, and partners while the case is pending. They could even be the basis of child protective proceedings. Because they come on so suddenly, it can be difficult to find somewhere else to be for the weeks or months it takes to resolve your case. However, the terms of these protective orders don’t always have to be so aggressive. By hiring an experienced Connecticut family violence attorney right away, you may be able to adjust the terms of the order to protect your freedoms and make life easier while you await the outcome of your case.
Family Violence Education Program for First-Time Defendants
If this is the first time you have faced family violence charges, you may be able to participate in the Connecticut Family Violence Education Program (FVEP) and avoid going to trial. If the court grants your application to participate in FVEP, you will have to complete a nine-part training designed to reduce future family violence. While the court may impose some other conditions, once the training is complete and those conditions are met, the charges will be dismissed and your criminal record will remain clean.
Will Family Violence Charges Affect Your Sentence if Convicted?
Each type of criminal charge has its own maximum penalty regarding jail time and court fines. Some family violence charges are relatively minor misdemeanors, while others are felonies carrying the risk of years in prison. The addition of the family violence label will not increase your jail time or the amount you will have to pay directly. However, the identity of the victim in your case may cause your judge to increase your sentence. Many family violence crimes also require those convicted to register as sex offenders.
Family violence convictions can also add to your sentence in other ways. You may be required to participate in court-ordered therapy or domestic violence training as part of your probation. The protective orders put in place before trial can continue for months, or even years after conviction. Your criminal history will also always bear the mark of a family violence conviction, which can affect your chances if you ever end up back in court in the future.
Family violence charges should never be taken lightly. The consequences of these domestic violence acts start as soon as the charges are filed and they can last for years after a conviction. That’s why it is essential to work with a criminal defense attorney who knows how to defend your criminal record and reduce the harm done if there is a conviction. At the Lebedevitch Law Firm, based in Fairfield, Connecticut, criminal defense attorney Stephen Lebedevitch knows how Connecticut family violence laws work. He will stand beside you from arraignment to sentencing or acquittal, and will advocate to protect your rights, your reputation, and your freedom. Contact us for a free consultation to talk to Stephen today.