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Modifying Connecticut Restraining & Protective Orders (Part 2 of 2)

Modifying Connecticut Restraining & Protective Orders
(Part 2 of 2)

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3 Things You Should Really Do To Modify a Domestic Violence Protective Order

Any top Fairfield, Bridgeport or Norwalk criminal attorney would agree that, in addition to hiring a lawyer, you should consider doing these 3 things in modifying a criminal protective order: (1) File a Motion in court that explains the factual and legal grounds for modifying the order; (2) Meet with the Office of Family Relations; and (3) Have witnesses testify in your court hearing that will help you modify the order but will not jeopardize your underlying domestic violence criminal case.

Action Item 1: Filing a Motion to Modify Your Domestic Violence Criminal Protective Order

You cannot just show up at your Stamford domestic violence criminal court date and ask the judge to modify or terminate your criminal protective order. The judge, prosecutor, Family Relations officers, and victim advocates all need plenty of notice of your modification motion so they can conduct the proper degree of diligence on your request. Many investigative and procedural steps need to be taken prior to the court ruling on your motion. So as any of the best Westport and Wilton Connecticut criminal lawyers would point out, the very first step is to file a motion for modification of the protective order. In addition to filing it with the criminal court clerk, a copy of the motion needs to be served on the domestic violence prosecutor, the Office of Family Relations, and the Victim Advocate. The motion should spell out the legal and factual grounds for why the protective order should be modified.

Action Item 2: Get In Touch with the Office of Family Relations

If the Office of Family Relations has retained your Stamford or Norwalk domestic violence arrest for Disorderly Conduct, Violation of Protective Order, or Strangulation, then the social workers in this office will be monitoring you throughout the entire duration of your case. Accordingly, the Superior Court judge who presides over your motion to modify the restraining order will look to the Family Relations Officer overseeing your case for their risk assessment analysis and recommendation on your motion. They will also hear the recommendations from the prosecutor, Victim Advocate, Victim’s attorney, and even the Victim if he or she wishes to be heard. No matter what any of these participants say at your Stamford or Norwalk domestic violence protective order hearing, it is up to the judge to make the final decision. With that said, however, it is a very good idea for you to meet with a Family Relations Officer during the early stages of your case and prior to your Connecticut restraining order modification hearing. Just remember that anything you say to a Family Relations Officer can be used against you in your underlying criminal case. That’s why it is always a good idea to prepare for your Family Relations interview with any of the top Stamford and Greenwich criminal domestic violence lawyers and attorneys.

On the morning of your first court date for your Stamford domestic violence arrest, as well as a few weeks after your first court date, a Family Relations Officer will want to interview you. During the interview, the Family Relations Officer assigned to your case may ask in-depth questions about the events leading to your Connecticut domestic violence arrest, and any meaningful progress you have made in treatment, counseling or rehabilitation. If physical or verbal contact has been allowed between you and the alleged victim in your case, the Family Relations Officer may ask about the status of your current relationship. Are you living together? Are you speaking peacefully and amicably? Have there been any threats or violent interactions? This interview is meant to assist the court and the domestic violence prosecutor during the case, but can be intimidating, especially to someone who has never been arrested before and is unfamiliar with the court system. A top Darien, Greenwich, or Westport domestic violence attorney can help you through the interview process, prepare you for your interview, and attend the interview along with you if you wish.

Action Items 3: Prepare for Your Domestic Violence Restraining Order Modification Hearing

Soon after your motion for modification is filed, the Criminal Clerk’s office will usually notify you of a hearing date for your modification motion. At the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present evidence to the domestic violence court judge to demonstrate why the protective order should be modified. You may subpoena and call witnesses and present documentary evidence, as well as surveillance evidence. The alleged victim or his or her attorney will have a chance to speak to the judge. The Family Relations Officer and Victim Advocate may weigh in as well. Finally, the domestic violence prosecutor will offer the State’s position.

With so many moving parts to a Protective Order Modification Motion hearing, it is very important you understand the process, are prepared to make arguments, present evidence, and challenge the evidence presented against you. A top Stamford domestic violence criminal lawyer can assist you with crafting the strongest arguments, so consider contacting one for a consultation. Ultimately, after all the parties have been heard, the judge will decide whether to grant the motion for modification. If the motion is granted, the modified order will go into effect that day.

What If My Restraining Order Modification Motion Is Denied?

Unfortunately, domestic violence cases—and the restraining orders issued in connection with them—can last a long time. Sometimes they can last for over two years. So if you lose your criminal protective order modification hearing, a top Stamford, New Canaan, or Wilton criminal attorney will wait for the appropriate amount of time to pass before attempting to modify a protective order. In other words, it can be beneficial to wait until the Court perceives that the family members involved have “cooled off” and that you have made meaningful progress in treatment and counseling.

Can I Get Arrested for Violating a Connecticut Civil Restraining Order or Violating a Connecticut Criminal Protective Order?

Yes. It’s actually a felony. The consequences for violating a civil restraining order or a domestic violence criminal protective order can be severe – sometimes more severe than the consequences of the underlying charges.

You can be arrested in Stamford, Greenwich or Darien for Violation of Criminal Protective Order under CGS 53a-223. This is a Class D Felony, and carries up to 5 years in prison. Getting arrested in Stamford or Greenwich for Violation of a Civil Restraining Order under CGS 53a-223b is a separate Class D Felony that is likewise punishable by up to 5 years in jail. (It is important to note that you can be charged criminally for violating a civil restraining order, even though the underlying order is civil in nature).

Connecticut violations of criminal protective orders or civil restraining orders are broadly interpreted and taken very seriously. Even non-threatening conduct can be a violation. For example, with a “Full No Contact” protective order, you cannot contact the protected person by any means or media – meaning no messages sent through a third party, no Facebook posts, Tweets, text messages, e-mails – no contact whatsoever. Connecticut courts are serious about prosecuting violations of these orders, arresting you in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien or New Canaan for even the most “technical” and non-threatening violations of protective and restraining orders.

Contact a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Lawyer at Mark Sherman Law Today

So if you have arrested for a domestic violence crime in Norwalk, Stamford, Danbury, Greenwich or Bridgeport, and would like to try and modify your criminal restraining protective order in Stamford, contact a Mark Sherman Law criminal attorney today. We understand how frustrating it can be to ordered out of your home, and restricted from having contact with your husband, wife or children. Sometimes it takes an experienced domestic violence attorney to persuade a domestic violence court to relax its protective order restrictions. So call us today for a consultation. We are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day at (203) 358-4700.

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