Domestic Violence Penalties in Westport
Understanding domestic violence penalties in Westport and the impact they might have on your future is often a key first step towards effectively defending your best interests in the wake of a domestic violence accusation or arrest. A knowledgeable defense attorney could review your unique circumstances with you during a confidential consultation and, once retained, provide irreplaceable guidance about how best to fight your case and preserve your rights.
Immediate Repercussions of Domestic Violence Charges
A decision by law enforcement to classify that crime as “domestic violence” can substantially change how your case proceeds. In addition to prosecution in criminal court, you may also face sanctions from family courts and from other entities within the Connecticut state department, all of which have authority to impose sanctions regardless of what outcome an associated criminal case has.
One of the biggest differences between domestic violence cases and other types of criminal cases is the speed with which the former usually proceeds after someone is arrested. Rather than waiting a few days or even weeks for an arraignment hearing, a person arrested for a domestic violence offense in Connecticut will always have their first court appearance scheduled for the next business day—sometimes even within 12 to 24 hours of the initial arrest.
At this initial hearing, the judge overseeing the case will generally issue a protective order, which functions similarly to a restraining order but is based on an arrest for criminal activity rather than an application filed by someone seeking court protection. Depending on the situation, this order may simply require the defendant to refrain from any further harassment or abuse, restrict them from being in the same residence or geographic location as the protected party, or prohibit all forms of communication with the protected party.
In addition to these immediate consequences in Westport, the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) will open an investigation into any person accused of a domestic violence crime that may have put children in the household at risk of physical or emotional harm. If this investigation turns up evidence that substantiates DCF’s suspicion of neglect or abuse, the agency’s Commissioner may recommend further sanctions that might include longer protective orders or even the loss of visitation or custody rights.
Does a Domestic Violence Designation Affect Criminal Sanctions?
A criminal offense being labeled as “domestic violence” in Connecticut does not allow courts to pursue longer jail or prison terms, steeper fines, or any other additional criminal penalties if an ensuing case ends with a conviction. However, different domestic violence offenses can carry very different criminal sanctions. For example, disorderly conduct is just a class C misdemeanor, while first-degree assault of a pregnant woman that directly results in the death of her fetus is a class A felony.
Furthermore, repeat offenses often lead courts to pass down increasingly harsh sentences, and certain offenses may even be upgraded from misdemeanors to felonies based on a particular defendant’s criminal history. During your confidential consultation, a skilled Westport lawyer could clarify what penalties a particular domestic violence charge could potentially lead to.
Learn More About Domestic Violence Penalties from a Westport Attorney
The sanctions a person accused of domestic violence may face can vary significantly from case to case. An experienced defense lawyer with experience handling cases like yours could prove vital in mitigating your domestic violence penalties in Westport . Click here to read our over 300 certified client reviews on Avvo.com, and call us today to learn more.