Yesterday’s release of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s elevator assault video shocked the nation and struck a nerve. The brutality of the video speaks for itself—yet what people who do not work in criminal courthouses day in and day out may fail to appreciate is that there are tens of thousands of domestic violence cases just like this one that are not on TMZ, where prosecutors and police do not have the advantage of having a video recording of the assault.
Much of the controversy surrounding the Ray Rice case surrounds questions on whether the courts were too lenient with him in granting him a domestic violence first time offenders program. Here in Stamford and Greenwich, this has begged the question of whether Connecticut family violence diversionary programs can likewise be granted in Stamford disorderly conduct and assault domestic violence cases that mirror the Ray Rice assault video?
Yes they can. Here’s how…
If you are arrested for certain domestic violence crimes in Stamford, Greenwich, New Canaan, Darien or Wilton—such as 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct, 53a-61 Third Degree Assault, Second Degree Breach of Peace 53a-181a, or 53a-64cc Third Degree Strangulation, then you can apply for the Connecticut Domestic Violence Pre-Trial Diversionary program called the Family Violence Education Program. As any of the best Stamford and Greenwich criminal lawyers and attorney would tell you, if you are arrested for one of these crimes and are granted admission into this program, then you can have your charges completely dismissed if you successfully complete the program’s requirements and comply with all additional court orders. No jail. No criminal conviction record. Just stay out of trouble and attend the 8 or 9 group domestic violence classes ordered by the Court.
For more serious domestic violence arrests such as 53a-64bb Second Degree Strangulation and 53a-60 Second Degree Assault, your top Stamford criminal lawyer can sometimes negotiate a disposition where you are granted the Family Violence Education Program, but instead of attending the low-risk group program, you are instead enrolled in either Connecticut’s Explorer or Connecticut’s Evolve counseling programs (approximately 26 or 52 weekly classes of domestic violence education, respectively). While these programs are much more intense, the result may be worth it if you are arrested in Stamford, Wilton, Darien or Greenwich for a more serious domestic violence crime like Assault, Strangulation, or Unlawful Restraint.
Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the Ray Rice case is the TMZ video that has been played on almost every newscast and sports report since yesterday’s release. As the best Stamford criminal lawyers agree…people lie, but videotapes don’t. Rice cannot deny what we have seen on that video. Yet most domestic violence cases are not captured on video like this, and police and prosecutors are forced to make their case from eyewitness and hearsay statements in addition to physical and forensic evidence. While this is standard procedure for most criminal prosecutions, victims sometimes do not want to testify against their loved ones, especially many months or years later when the trial dates for these cases come up and the family has moved forward with the healing process and moved on with their lives. Yet prosecutors are still charged with the duty to prosecute, even with an uncooperative victim. And the truth is, as any of the best Greenwich criminal lawyers will tell you, that if prosecutors have a video recording of a crime, then they do not need a cooperating witness to prosecute you.
Additionally, these cases are much harder to prove and can play out as he-said / she-said cases, launching a side show trial of which witness is more credible and trustworthy. The challenge of being able to prove cases like these have resulted in many courts like the Stamford domestic violence courts granting family violence diversionary programs to people arrested in Stamford, Darien, and Greenwich for 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct and domestic violence assault.
Top Stamford domestic violence criminal lawyers are often asked how a domestic violence court can permit people arrested for domestic violence assault to stay out of jail and avoid a criminal record, especially when they have either admitted to hitting their wife or family member, or when they are caught on tape like Ray Rice? The answer is that these Connecticut domestic violence first-time offenders programs—along with the policies, practices and approaches adopted by Connecticut domestic violence courts and prosecutors—are the result of decades of intensive psychological, behavioral and criminal studies by law enforcement and behavioral therapists and social workers. In many domestic violence cases, there are other factors which contribute to the violence that can be cautiously rectified and rehabilitated: mental illness, prescription drug problems, substance or alcohol abuse, or depression. Many times, victims of a Stamford domestic violence arrest do not want their spouse or family member incarcerated or punished with a permanent criminal record, hampering the family’s ability to pay bills. They will sometimes just want treatment, counseling and Stamford restraining and protective orders to remain in place to ensure their safety and the defendant’s rehabilitation.
To this end, the Norwalk and Stamford domestic violence criminal courts offer the free services of the Connecticut Domestic Violence Crisis Center to assist victims of domestic violence in Stamford, Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk and Wilton. Greenwich Connecticut victims of domestic violence can avail themselves of the free counseling services of the Greenwich YWCA victim advocates who are also available 24-7 to provide counseling. Both agencies even provide safehouse services for Stamford and Greenwich domestic violence victims suffering from extreme violence. In addition to these services, the Victim Representation practice team at Mark Sherman Law offers the services of its own in-house victim advocate Christina Bartlett, who served as a Stamford and Norwalk Superior Court domestic violence victim advocate for nearly 7 years, assisting thousands of victims of Stamford disorderly conduct and assault domestic violence cases.
If you have more questions about your Stamford domestic violence case, or want to learn more about family violence education programs, or whether you are eligible for such a program if you have been arrested in Stamford, New Canaan or Darien for a Disorderly Conduct domestic violence charge, call one of the domestic violence lawyers at Mark Sherman Law today. We are available 24-7 at (203) 358-4700.