Connecticut Disorderly Conduct Lawyer
Perhaps the most common charge in any domestic violence arrest in Stamford, Darien, New Canaan, Greenwich, Westport, Wilton, Norwalk or Fairfield is Disorderly Conduct under C.G.S. 53a-182. As top Connecticut criminal lawyers will tell you, police charge 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct frequently because it’s the most broadly written domestic violence charge on the books, it’s the least serious misdemeanor charge, and most importantly to law enforcement, it ushers those arrested for Disorderly Conduct in Connecticut into the care and supervision of Connecticut domestic violence courts.
However, if your Connecticut domestic violence Disorderly Conduct charge is not handled properly by a top Stamford, Greenwich, or Norwalk Disorderly Conduct criminal lawyer, then the court system and all of its legal pitfalls could bury you in costs, expenses, missed days of work, and sabotage your background checks for the rest of your life. So if you are arrested for a Connecticut 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct in a domestic violence case, it is well worth contacting a Stamford, Greenwich, Fairfield or Darien Domestic Violence criminal lawyer as soon as possible.
What Constitutes Disorderly Conduct?
Connecticut lawmakers broadly drafted the language of the 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct statute. According to the statute, you can be guilty of Disorderly Conduct if, with the intent to cause annoyance, alarm, or inconvenience, or while recklessly creating a risk of annoyance, alarm, or inconvenience, you:
- Engage in fighting or in violent or threatening behavior;
- Annoy or interfere with another person with offensive conduct;
- Engage in making unreasonable noise;
- Disturb a public meeting or assembly;
- Obstruct traffic; or
- Engage in peeping tom activity while trespassing on private property.
Clearly this list encompasses scores of different scenarios and situations, especially when there is a heated verbal or physical confrontation in the privacy of your own home. You should know that the police do not have to eyewitness the Disorderly Conduct behavior to make an on-site arrest. All they need is a victim or accuser to provide a statement to police that you were engaging in violent or threatening behavior and…just like that…you can get arrested. If there are any marks or bruises on the accuser’s body, then the chances of you getting arrested for 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct in Connecticut are even more likely. Police do not take any chances in domestic violence cases and are more likely to err on the side of making arrests and letting the court system work through the details and resolution of run-of-mill he-said / she-said disputes.
What Happens After a 911 Call for a Connecticut Domestic Violence Crime?
When police arrive at your home for a domestic violence call (often triggered by a 911 call), they are required to thoroughly investigate the crime scene and interview all parties involved. After gathering all of the information from their personal observations, witnesses interviews, and photographs, Connecticut police then have the discretion to (a) arrest one or both parties involved, (b) not arrest anyone and give out warnings, or (c) continue their investigation at a later date and time, and then possibly apply for an arrest warrant which they can serve sometime in the future.
If Connecticut police do in fact arrest you for a 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct charge, then you will be ordered to appear in criminal court on the next business day. The need to report to court so quickly is so that the Court can hold a domestic violence restraining order hearing to assess the safety risks and threats for all the family members involved. At the time of your arrest, the police will serve you with a temporary protective / restraining order, often preventing you from returning to the family home or having any contact with the accuser or alleged victim. This order remains in effect until the arraignment at which point a Superior Court judge in Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport or Danbury sorts out all the facts during the restraining / protective order hearing.
Appearing in Court
Your first court date for a 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct arrest in a domestic violence case is critical. The most important event that will take place at this court date will be the Protective Order / Restraining Order Hearing where a court will determine whether you will be allowed to return home to your family, or permitted to enter the home of the alleged victim and accuser. Before this hearing, however, you will have the opportunity to meet with the Superior Court’s Office of Family Relations who will assist the Court in determining what level and degree of restraining and protective order is appropriate for your Connecticut domestic violence case.
Meeting with the Family Relations Officer
Before appearing before the judge, you will be instructed to meet with Family Relations Officers who will conduct separate intake and assessment meetings with you and the alleged victim. Know that anything self-incriminating you say to the Office of Family Relations can and will be used against you in your domestic violence case. While Family Relations Officers are usually involved to help you and start the healing process, they are not your lawyers and nothing you say is “off the record” with them. They have a legal duty to report any admissions, confessions, and safety concerns to the Court and the prosecutor. That’s why we always advise you to not go into this meeting with Family Relations without a top Darien, Stamford or Greenwich Connecticut disorderly conduct attorney by your side. Additionally, Domestic Violence Victim Advocates who work inside the courthouse will interview any alleged victims and accusers in your case. They will get input from the victims and communicate their position on your case and any proposed restraining orders to the arraignment judge.
The Protective/Restraining Order Hearing for Your Connecticut Disorderly Conduct Charges
At the criminal protective order and restraining order hearing at the arraignment, the Superior Court judge will have the option of ordering three types of protective orders: a full no contact order (which prohibits any kind of contact whatsoever with the alleged victim), a full residential stay-away order (which allows contact but prohibits you from entering the residence of the victim), or a partial restraining order (which allows contact, allows you to reside with the victim, but prohibits you from threatening, harassing or assaulting the victim). Usually these orders remain in place for at least 4 to 6 weeks from your first court appearance date, which makes it more urgent and time-sensitive to hire a top Stamford or Greenwich disorderly conduct lawyer to argue against the imposition of such restrictive and onerous restraining and protective orders. The costs of being kicked out of your home and separated from your family for over a month can snowball very quickly. Plus, if one of these three protective orders are put in place against you, then for the duration of your domestic violence case, you will likely be flagged and detained by United States Customs Officers anytime you attempt to enter the United States, as well as be questioned by police during any routine traffic stop. So if you are arrested for 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct in Stamford, Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk, Westport, Wilton or Fairfield Connecticut, be sure to contact a Connecticut disorderly conduct attorney prior to the restraining order hearing at your arraignment.
Finally, with respect to these restraining and protective orders, appreciate just how serious abiding by these protective and restraining orders are in Connecticut: the criminal charges of Violation of a Criminal Protective Order under CGS 53a-223 or Violation of a Civil Restraining Order under CGS 53a-223b are felonies in Connecticut. Police will arrest you for even the most technical violations of these Connecticut criminal protective and restraining orders, such as emailing your wife or husband a harmless email about picking up the kids from school when there is a full no contact protective order in place. We often tell our Connecticut domestic violence clients that victims will sometimes use these protective orders as swords, not shields. So we warn our clients to be very careful in not being baited to violate a protective order, as facing a felony charge for 53a-223 Violation of a Criminal Protective Order can lead to more headaches, court appearances and missed days at work.
What are the Penalties for Disorderly Conduct?
While most of the time you will be brought down to the police station to be booked and processed for your 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct arrest, there are times when the police will just hand you a misdemeanor summons and complaint ticket to you. Don’t be fooled by this—while it may just feel like a speeding ticket (and while the police may even tell you it’s not a big deal), you still have been charged with a Class C Misdemeanor that will remain on your criminal record until the case is dismissed. This crime is punishable by up to 3 months in state prison, probation and a $500 fine. Even if the Stamford or Norwalk court prosecutors are offering you a small fine, we always discourage our domestic violence clients to NOT plead guilty to 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct charge whenever possible. We prefer to sit with our clients, thoroughly investigate the case, and work with them to try and get the charges dismissed as quickly as possible.
Fighting Connecticut Disorderly Conduct Charges in Domestic Violence Court
After the protective order and restraining order issues are resolved at your first court date, our attention then turns to defending you against the underlying 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct charges. Our “two-attorney” review process at Mark Sherman Law ensures that your police reports are examined carefully by two of our criminal lawyers to make sure that we thoroughly search for police errors, omissions and constitutional defects in search and seizure tactics and procedures. We often make motions to the Superior Court early on in our domestic violence cases to preserve electronic surveillance evidence in the possession of police (such as dashboard cams, and digital recordings of arrests and processing). And if necessary, we will also dispatch private investigators to gather witness statements, canvass the accuser’s Facebook and social media to the extent permissible, and take photographs if we believe the accuser has been dishonest in your case or has lied to the police. Whatever our approach is in your particular case, we will sit with you to craft the most thorough and effective defense possible to ensure that all of your rights are defenses are protected and preserved.
Importance of a Connecticut Disorderly Conduct Lawyer
While we often appear in Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport and Danbury domestic violence courts on behalf of people arrested for CGS 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct, we are frequently hired to represent domestic violence victims of Disorderly Conduct charges in Connecticut. Victim rights in Connecticut criminal courtrooms are sacred and protected at great lengths by prosecutors, judges and the social workers and crisis counselors that assist victims. With all these services at a victim’s fingertips, we often get asked whether a domestic violence victim needs to hire a Connecticut criminal lawyer to help them navigate domestic violence court.
The answer is not so simple. In fact, it depends on the particular victim, what their goals are in the case, and whether or not they are supporting the person arrested or scared of them. There are several scenarios where a victim can benefit from the assistance of hiring a Stamford or Greenwich disorderly conduct lawyer:
- If a victim has suffered brutal or violent injuries or, was subjected to explicit and dangerous threats and is frightened for their safety and the safety of their children, then hiring a lawyer can serve as an additional layer of protection. In these cases, an attorney can voice your concerns and argue against the suspect’s attorney at the restraining order hearing, can object to any attempts of the suspect to modify the restraining order, and can fight on your behalf against any attempts of the suspect to get the charges dropped or reduced.
- Conversely, if the victim wants leniency or would like the criminal restraining order to be terminated, lifted, or modified so that the victim and the defendant / suspect can begin the healing process, an attorney for the victim can work hand-in-hand with the defense attorney. Together, they can try to convince the judge that everyone in the home and the relationship is safe, that the Connecticut restraining and protective orders should be terminated, and that the charges should be dismissed as quickly as possible.
One significant advantage of hiring a domestic violence victim attorney in many Connecticut domestic violence courts is that your lawyer can attend pre-trial proceedings in which a Victim Advocate is not permitted to participate, such as a supervised pre-trial with the domestic violence prosecutor and judge. There, your Greenwich or Stamford domestic violence victim’s lawyer can aggressively advocate your position directly to the judge—whether or not it is against or aligned with the defendant. In either event, it is worth contacting a top Connecticut victim’s rights lawyer to see whether it would be cost-effective and a good idea to hire a lawyer to represent your interests as a victim in a domestic violence case.
Contact a Connecticut Disorderly Conduct Domestic Violence Lawyer Attorney Right Away
As you can see, there are many moving parts to a 53a-182 Connecticut Disorderly Conduct charge. Not only do you need an experienced Connecticut domestic violence lawyer to fight your 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct charge, but you also need your lawyer by your side on your arraignment date. Your lawyer can guide you through your Family Relations interview and stand up for you at your restraining and protective order hearing in case your disgruntled spouse or loved one tries to keep you out of your home, or worse, tries to keep you from visitation with your children. And if you are a victim of a 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct charge, or any other domestic violence crime, we can also work aggressively on your behalf, whether you are looking for the full prosecution of the case, or a quick dismissal in furtherance of reconciliation and forgiveness. So do not wait until after your first court date. Call a domestic violence lawyer at Mark Sherman Law today.