Group Picture of The Law Offices of Mark Sherman, LLC

Modifying Connecticut Restraining & Protective Orders (Part 1 of 2)

Modifying Connecticut Restraining & Protective Orders
(Part 1 of 2)

Modifying and Fighting Your Darien, Greenwich & Stamford Domestic Violence Arrest Restraining & Protective Orders

If you were arrested in Stamford, Darien or Greenwich Connecticut for Disorderly Conduct, Assault, Risk of Injury or any other Connecticut domestic violence crime, then a Connecticut domestic violence court has issued or will issue some form of a criminal protective order or criminal restraining order against you. As the best Stamford and Darien domestic violence lawyers agree, domestic violence courts in Norwalk, Danbury and Stamford will hold a restraining order hearing and then issue a protective order the very first time a domestic violence defendant appears in court, which is usually the next business morning after a Connecticut domestic violence arrests. This hearing is critical, as three categories of protective orders of restraining orders can be issued, which in some cases can forbid you from returning to your own home for weeks, or even seeing or speaking to your spouse and children. Unfortunately, top Stamford domestic violence crime attorneys and lawyers often get called in too late—after the hearing, when it is too late for them to assist at the Stamford or Norwalk restraining order hearing.

The good news, however, is that it’s not too late to file a motion with the Connecticut domestic violence court to modify the criminal protective order, or convince the court to terminate the Stamford restraining order altogether. Some of the best Stamford and Greenwich criminal lawyers have succeeded in modifying domestic violence protective orders. Although it is a cumbersome and intense court process that usually requires an evidentiary hearing, a successful motion for modifying a domestic violence protective order can reunite you with your children and spouses. So if you are interested in modifying or fighting your Greenwich or Stamford domestic violence protective restraining order, give a top Stamford domestic violence lawyer a call today.

The Distinction between Connecticut Criminal Protective Orders & Civil Restraining Orders

In the State of Connecticut, protective orders are issued by the criminal court system. And with every Stamford domestic violence arrest for Disorderly Conduct 53a-182, Assault 53a-61, Strangulation 53a-64, Violation of Protective Order 53a-223, or Risk of Injury 53-21, a criminal protective order is issued by a criminal court at your first court appearance, which is also called the arraignment.

On the other hand, the Connecticut family court system issues civil restraining orders. Civil restraining orders do not arise from a Connecticut domestic violence arrest and are instead ordered by the family court after a Stamford restraining order application is filed. Once a family court judge reviews the application, a temporary restraining order is sometimes issued, and a full evidentiary hearing is scheduled. Click here for more information about the Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, and Stamford civil restraining order process.

Although “restraining orders” in Connecticut are issued by civil courts while “protective orders” are issued by criminal courts, for the purposes of this article and for simplicity’s sake, we have used them interchangeably.

Civil or criminal protective and restraining orders look virtually identical in form and substance. Essentially, there are three categories of criminal protective orders in Connecticut. The least restrictive is referred to as a “Partial” or “Limited” protective order, which allows full contact and co-habitation, but prohibits threats, violence or harassment against the protected person. The next category is called the “Full” or “Residential Stay-Away” which allows physical and verbal contact but prohibits you from entering the protected person’s home or workplace. Finally, the most restrictive is the “Full No Contact” protective order, which prevents any and all contact with the protected person under any circumstances, and will sometimes extend to the protected person’s children and family members, even if these children are yours, and are living in your home, which you own, and for which you pay the mortgage!

Most Connecticut protective order modification hearings challenge the propriety of the last two types of Connecticut restraining orders: the Full No Contact and Full Residential Stay-Away protective restraining orders. Especially when restraining orders like these are imposed in connection with minor Stamford and Greenwich domestic violence 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct arrests. How can the Court issue such an onerous and restrictive restraining order for such a minor charge? Isn’t this an abuse of process? Fair questions—and ones which should be considered in your modification hearing.

Many times people arrested for domestic violence in Stamford, Greenwich and Darien try to modify their protective orders themselves. As the best Stamford Disorderly Conduct criminal lawyers have observed, going it alone can be risky. Why wouldn’t you consult a top Stamford criminal lawyer who has won these Stamford restraining order modification hearings in the past? Notwithstanding, a consultation with a top Greenwich Connecticut domestic violence lawyer is probably a good idea prior to walking into any Norwalk or Stamford domestic violence restraining order modification hearing.

Can My Stamford Criminal Protective Restraining Order Be Modified While My Domestic Violence Arrest is Pending?

Yes. Normally, once a Stamford domestic violence restraining order is issued, a criminal protective order stays in place for the entire duration of your case. However, domestic violence defendants—and sometimes even the victims of a domestic violence arrest in Greenwich, Darien, and Stamford—will often hire a top Darien or Stamford domestic violence criminal lawyer to modify their protective order or restraining order. To start the modification process, your top Stamford criminal lawyer needs to file a motion to modify the protective order, laying out the legal and factual grounds for modification. They also need to begin communicating with family relations officers, victim advocates, social workers, and their own mental health professionals to present the strongest argument at the modification hearing. Witnesses may need to be subpoenaed as well. Connecticut domestic violence prosecutors and judges proceed very cautiously with these modification motions, so it is best to be extremely prepared for these hearings as you may only get one shot at modifying and fighting the Stamford restraining order for up to a 6-week period.

Why Would a Connecticut Domestic Violence Victim Want to Modify a Restraining Protective Order?

Believe it or not, some victims of domestic violence arrests in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien and New Canaan do not agree with the restraining orders that are ordered in their spouse’s domestic violence arrests. These are cases when a domestic violence judge or prosecutor believes a “cooling off” period is necessary in light of the specific circumstances of a particular Connecticut domestic violence case—even if the victim tells the court that you are not a physical threat to their safety. In situations like these, victims actually have the right to fight these criminal protective orders, and can hire a Stamford domestic violence victim lawyer to urge the court to reduce the restrictions on their restraining orders. Top Stamford and Greenwich domestic violence victim attorneys and lawyers regularly advocate aggressively for their victim clients to lift and relax the restraining orders that are keeping their loved ones out of the house. What courts sometimes fail to appreciate is how expensive and emotionally taxing court-ordered separation can be to a marriage and a family. We have seen some of the best Greenwich and Stamford domestic violence victim lawyers offer testimony from child psychologists who testify how psychologically damaging a residential stay away restraining order has impacted a defendant’s child. This is a perfect example of when a domestic violence court should consider all of the consequences of its actions at a restraining order modification hearing. For these reasons, if you are a victim of a Stamford, Darien or Greenwich domestic violence arrest and want to fight a restraining order, contact a top Stamford domestic violence criminal attorney to begin the modification process.

Can I Modify the Protective Order Without the Court’s Permission?

NO. A domestic violence protective order remains in effect until 1 of 3 things happen: (1) the charges are dropped by the prosecutor (called a nolle), (2) the charges are dismissed by the Court at trial; or (3) the court grants a motion for modification of the protective order prior to the conclusion of your case. That’s it. No exceptions.

It is important to remember that only a Superior Court judge can modify a protective order. Sometimes a domestic violence victim may feel they are ready to “go back to normal” and forgive the person arrested for the domestic violence crime. However, making up and reconciling with the victim in a Stamford domestic violence arrest does not give you the right to ignore a court-issued criminal protective order. You must wait until the order has been modified. So if you are bound by a “Full No Contact” or a “Full / Residential Stay-Away” restraining order, and your husband or wife has cooled off, changed their mind, or has invited you back to your house, you will be breaking the law and subject to a felony arrest in Stamford for Criminal Violation of a Protective Order.

How Quickly Can I Get a Hearing in Court on My Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

The answer to this question depends on whether you or your top Stamford, Danbury or Ridgefield domestic violence lawyer attorney requested a “Fernando A.” Hearing at your domestic violence arrest arraignment. This is a special evidentiary hearing that Connecticut domestic violence law allows you to have very quickly after your first court appearance. In some Connecticut jurisdictions like Danbury and Norwalk, you can usually be granted one within two weeks’ time. In busier jurisdictions like Stamford and Bridgeport, it may take a little longer. However, to invoke your “Fernando A” hearing rights, you must preserve them at your domestic violence arrest arraignment. To learn more about “Fernando A” domestic violence restraining protective order hearings, contact a top Stamford domestic violence lawyer for a consultation.

Modifying Connecticut Restraining & Protective Orders - Part 2