We have been recently receiving a lot of calls from people charged in Connecticut with violating criminal protective orders and civil restraining orders. Not surprisingly to us, the violations are often technical and not particularly violent or egregious—text messages, social media and facebook communications, emails, or a simple phone call. As these protective and restraining orders are sometimes associated with an ongoing divorce or domestic violence case, Connecticut police and prosecutors strictly enforce these orders and leave little room for warnings or discretion. These charges can be felonies or misdemeanors and upon conviction, carry substantial jail time and probation.
Many felony violation of protective order cases in Connecticut arise from an underlying domestic violence case. If not aggressively fought and defended by an experienced Norwalk or Stamford domestic violence lawyer, these orders can remain in effect for months or years. Therefore if you are arrested for violation of a protective order in Stamford, Greenwich, Norwalk, Westport, Wilton, or New Canaan, then in addition to contacting a violation of protective lawyer right away, you should review some of the important information I’ve provided below to help you through your case…
In any domestic violence case in Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport and Danbury, criminal protective orders are issued by a judge at your arraignment and immediately put you on notice of the terms and conditions of your release. In divorce and family courts, a civil restraining order against a family member can be applied for by a family member and granted under specific conditions. Both these criminal and civil orders come in primarily three forms: (1) partial, (2) full, and (3) full no contact.
The most common protective / restraining order is a “partial protective order”—which prohibits you from “threatening, intimidating or harassing” the protected person. The language is broadly interpreted and enforced by police. Sending the alleged victim a profanity-laced text message, cursing at them, or giving them “the finger” can all be grounds for a felony arrest for violating a protective order. That’s why we advise our clients to tread very carefully around a partial protective order, as in some rare cases, a protected person may be tempted to use an order like this as a sword, not a shield.
The next restrictive order is the “full protective order” which orders you to: (1) not threaten, intimidate, or harass the protected person, and (2) stay away from the protected person’s residence and workplace. If you live with the protected person, then the court will usually permit you to return one time to retrieve your personal belongings with a police escort. Again, this is strictly enforced, and you are not permitted to drop into the home to tuck your kids into bed, make a sandwich, or pick up a forgotten item or business file. If you are caught, then you can face a criminal violation of protective order charge and find yourself arrested with a raised bond.
The final and most restrictive order is the “full no contact order”, which is essentially a “full protective order” coupled with the additional restriction of prohibiting any form of contact whatsoever with the protected person. This includes electronic contact, phone contact, and third party contact (i.e. message through family members or friends).
Once these orders are issued by a Connecticut domestic violence court, copies are circulated electronically to Connecticut police department and United States border patrols, causing delays and anxiety for many defendants who are trying to enter the United States and become subject to questioning about their restraining and protective orders. Additionally, if you have an order hanging over your head, you will be questioned by police at a routine traffic stop for a moving violation. As you can see, being subjected to these orders can materially affect your quality of life. That’s why you may want to explore the option of moving the court to modifying or terminating / dismissing the protective order if they become too onerous or unfair.
We are often hired to move the domestic violence court to modify protective and restraining orders. After a reasonable amount of “cooling off” time has passed in a Connecticut domestic violence case, a defendant and his or her family are ready to begin the healing process and have them resume contact or return to their home. The domestic violence lawyers at Mark Sherman Law are experienced in filing motions to modify the protective and restraining orders, and will request a modification hearing in some circumstances. This hearing—called a Fernando Hearing—allows us to call witnesses and present evidence to a judge in our efforts to lift or relax the protective order. Remember you need court permission and modification before changing any order. Getting the victim’s verbal or written permission is never enough and will not prevent a domestic violence arrest.
The charges and penalties for these violations are usually one of the following: Violation of a Protective Order under C.G.S. § 53a-223 (carrying a maximum of 5 years in prison), or Violation of a Civil Restraining Order, under C.G.S. § 53a-223b (carrying a maximum of one year in prison). For a link to the exact wording of these statutes, click here.
The Mark Sherman Law Offices is in a unique position to offer the services of Christine Bartlett, a veteran domestic violence victim advocate who has left public service to work with our victim representation practice. As a victim advocate voice for hundreds of victims in past domestic violence cases, Christine has been able to successfully work with our clients who are victims in domestic violence cases on all matters related to criminal protective orders and civil restraining orders. Whether the victim wishes to oppose modification, support modification, or seek the extension and enforcement of these orders for as long as possible, Christine, along with our team of Connecticut domestic violence attorneys, provide a powerful voice for victims in Connecticut domestic violence court.
If you have been charged with violating a protective order in Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport, Danbury, Greenwich, New Canaan, or Darien, or you are a victim / protected person of an order and need victim representation, give a domestic violence lawyer at Mark Sherman Law a call today to learn how we can help you. We offer reasonable rates and we are focused on working with you on all your protective order and restraining order issues. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at (203) 358-4700.