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Restraining Orders

Connecticut Restraining Orders

In certain circumstances, Connecticut law offers Connecticut residents the opportunity to be protected by a restraining order. These orders are issued by the Family Divisions of the Connecticut Superior Courts and are only granted upon a moving party’s application. We routinely get calls about Connecticut restraining orders—sometimes from women and men who desperately need a restraining order from an out-of-control or dangerous family member. On the other side of this equation, we also frequently get calls from family members who are served with restraining order applications by a state marshal and want to fight these applications. In either case, if you are interested in applying for a restraining order or want to fight a restraining order, then you should call a top Connecticut restraining order lawyer who can assist you in Stamford, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Bridgeport, Darien, Westport, or any other Connecticut jurisdiction.

If You Are Seeking a Restraining Order in the Connecticut Courts

Civil restraining orders are available in limited circumstances to a limited group of applicants under C.G.S. § 46b-15. The general rule of thumb is that in order to qualify for a restraining order, the applicant must be at imminent risk of physical or emotional harm from a family member, household member, or someone with whom the applicant is engaged in a physical or romantic relationship. It is critical that an applicant seeking a restraining order in Stamford, Greenwich, Norwalk, Darien, New Canaan, or anywhere else in Connecticut file the proper paperwork with the Family Court clerk’s office. The paperwork must include an affidavit seeking relief from abuse signed by the applicant, as well as ex parte application papers. Additionally, if the applicant is seeking relief as to minor children, then other forms will need to be completed by the applicant or attorney regarding the safety of these children.

The experienced restraining order lawyers at Mark Sherman Law are frequently hired to secure restraining orders in family court on behalf of these applicants. Often these clients are victims of domestic violence crimes who have reported the abuse to the local police but are waiting for police and prosecutors to process and obtain arrest warrants. In the meantime, the civil courts provide relief in the form of these restraining orders to protect victims during the interim period.

The restraining order process unfolds in stages. First, the applicant or his or her attorney will prepare the application pleadings and paperwork and submit it to the Family Court for consideration. (Victims can also seek assistance through Victim Advocate offices that are located in every Connecticut courthouse). Second, once the paperwork is filed with the Court, a judge will usually rule that same day and either (1) schedule a hearing on the restraining order application, or (2) refuse to grant a hearing and reject the application. If the Court grants a hearing, it will also consider issuing an “ex parte” restraining order to cover the time period between date of application and the hearing date. Next, the target of the restraining order will have to be served with the restraining order by a State Marshall and proof of service must be filed with the Court by a date certain ordered by the Court. (Here’s where the process can get tricky if the target lives out-of-state. However, a top Connecticut restraining order lawyer can work within the confines of other state laws to properly effect service).

Finally, the restraining order hearing ensues on the scheduled date where the parties appear before a Superior Court judge. The court first orders the parties to consult with a Family Relations Officer to see if the parties can mediate and resolve the case before going forward with a hearing. If that is not successful, then a hearing takes place which could last hours or days, depending on the number of witnesses and the length of each witness’s testimony. At the conclusion of testimony, the Court will either deny or grant the application. Presently any application granted will result in a one-year restraining order. This order can only be terminated early with Court permission, so if you are interested in moving the Court for an early termination of a civil restraining order, you should contact a top Stamford restraining order lawyer as soon as possible.

The Three Types of Restraining Orders in Connecticut

In the event that a Court decides to grant a restraining order, the Court will designate the order as either (1) a “full no contact” order, (2) a “full” or residential stay-away” order, or (3) a “partial” protective order. The full no contact order forbids any contact whatsoever between the target and the protected person, and further forbids the target from entering the residence or place of business of the protected person. The full or residential stay-away order permits contact, but does not allow the target to enter the protected person’s residence or place of business. The least restrictive restraining order in Connecticut is the partial protective order which permits contact, and allows the target to reside and visit with the protected person at their residence or workplace; however, it prohibits the target from “threatening, harassing or intimidating” the protected person in any manner whatsoever.

Problems with the Partial Restraining / Protective Order Language

The partial protective order provision forbidding threats, harassment, and intimidation is included in every restraining order issued by the State of Connecticut and presents problems for people who are served with these restraining orders. The language is broad and loosely interpreted by police and law enforcement which allows protected persons to use these orders as swords, instead of shields. It is therefore very easy to violate a partial restraining order or partial protective order in Connecticut through harsh language, verbally abusive language, cursing, obscene gestures and language (i.e. the middle finger), or a heated but non-violent argument. The restraining order attorneys at Mark Sherman Law therefore often warn clients to tread very carefully around a partial restraining order and to be vigilant about what kind of messages and language they imprint in text message and Facebook postings. Yes, top violation of protective order attorneys and lawyers in Stamford and Greenwich will agree that aggressive and nasty Facebook and texting can easily lead to a criminal arrest for violation of a protective order.

The Hassles & Headaches of Having A Civil Restraining Order Hanging Over Your Head

Ask any top Greenwich or Stamford restraining order lawyer—having a restraining order hanging over your head for a year can seriously disrupt your life. Records of these orders are maintained by all Connecticut law enforcement officers—including police in all the cities, towns, and villages in Connecticut, as well as the Connecticut State Troopers who safeguard the State’s highways and interstates. And if you are pulled over for a routine traffic stop or speeding ticket and you have someone in the car with you, you can expect to get an intense interview from the police. Even worse, the people in your car will also be intensely questioned about their safety, causing you unnecessary embarrassment and humiliation. Additionally, if you have a restraining order pending against you, expect long delays whenever you return to the United States at any airport or border crossing. At customs, a red flag will be triggered and you will be taken into an examination room, questioned by federal authorities about the restraining orders, thus causing you long delays in your travels. Finally, the restraining orders can come up in various background checks conducted by potential employers, landlords, lenders and universities.

But perhaps the biggest headache of having a restraining order application hanging over you is the concern and fear that the person protected by the restraining order will use this restraining order as a sword, and not a shield. This means they will try to lure you into violating the order. For example, we have seen cases where a residential stay away (or a “full” protective / restraining order) is in place and the protected person invites you over for dinner, tells you not to worry about the order and that it is okay to come visit, and then an argument ensues. Police are called and you find yourself being charged with a felony criminal violation of a civil restraining order crime under C.G.S. § 53a-223b.

For all of these reasons, it is worth consulting a top Stamford restraining order lawyer who regularly fights restraining order applications and appears at the restraining order hearing on your behalf.

Fighting a Civil Restraining Order Application

The restraining order attorneys at Mark Sherman Law rely upon their years of experience in defending their clients against frivolous, harassing and flat-out false restraining order applications. We take applicants to task and force them to the witness stand to explain their allegations of abuse. Under certain circumstances, we force pre-hearing discovery and compel these restraining order applicants to sit for depositions and produce documents, emails, text messages and other social media. If necessary, we will subpoena their phone and Facebook records, as we often find that these alleged victims seeking restraining orders can sometimes fabricate history in order to gain an unfair advantage in a restraining order courtroom.

Restraining order applicants often attempt to use restraining order court to leverage their position in a contentious divorce, child custody dispute, or a domestic violence criminal case where they are trying to seek money from our clients. In cases like these, top Connecticut restraining order lawyers in Stamford, Greenwich, New Canaan, Darien, Westport, Norwalk, Fairfield and all over Connecticut, will know how to open the floodgates of court-sanctioned discovery to take applicants to task. Prior to any restraining order hearing, the Mark Sherman Law restraining order lawyers will work with you to craft a defense strategy designed to defeat a civil restraining order application. You will find our team of attorneys diligent, responsive, detail-sensitive, thorough and compassionate.

Criminal Penalties for Violating a Civil Restraining Order

Violating a civil restraining order or criminal protective order in Connecticut can have serious and disastrous consequences. The law of Criminal Violation of a Civil Restraining Order under C.G.S. § 53a-223b makes it a felony to violate the terms and conditions of a civil restraining order. C.G.S. § 53a-223 lays out the law for violations of criminal protective orders. Criminal protective orders cannot be obtained by application; rather, they are ordered by the Court in connection with domestic violence crimes. They are issued by the criminal courts to protect alleged victims in the criminal courts, particularly in domestic violence court cases. Each of these crimes are felonies punishable by up to five years in jail, probation and a $5000 fine.

Contact a Restraining Order Lawyer at Mark Sherman Law Today

So if you are interested in applying for a civil restraining order in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, Fairfield, Westport or any other Connecticut courthouse, or if you have been served with a restraining order application and want to fight it, do not wait until it’s too late to call an attorney. Call one of the experienced Restraining Order lawyers and attorneys at Mark Sherman Law today. We have years of experience in both obtaining and fighting restraining orders. We will work with you and your family to develop the most cost-efficient and cost-effective strategy in order to give you the best chance of obtaining the result you are seeking in restraining order court. Call us today at (203) 358-4700. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take your call.

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