Criminal Protective Orders in Connecticut and How They Affect You
Protective Orders are issued when a Court determines that an Order is necessary to protect an individual from someone who has been charged with a crime. Protective Orders are commonly issued in family, or domestic violence, cases and can last until your criminal case is resolved. In some cases, a Standing Criminal Protective Order can be issued as part of a sentence (for information about Standing Criminal Protective Orders, click here: Domestic Violence Court Process).
What is a Protective Order?
A Protective Order is a Court-imposed Order of Protection that is issued against an individual who has been charged with a crime. It is an Order of the Court that prohibits the defendant from contacting, threatening, harassing, or entering the residence of the protected party or parties.
When are Protective Orders usually Issued?
Criminal Protective Orders are usually issued at your first court appearance, also known as an arraignment. Protective Orders are commonly issued in domestic, or family, violence cases.
A domestic violence crime is defined in Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-38a as:
- an incident that results in physical harm
- a threatened act of violence involving imminent physical harm
- verbal abuse or arguments when there is present danger and likelihood that physical violence will occur.
Domestic violence crimes include the following:
Assault, sexual assault, threatening, stalking, strangulation, breach of peace.
Domestic violence offenses involve the following relationships:
- Spouse/former spouse
- Relatives/family members
- People related through marriage
- People who live/have lived together
- People who have a child together (regardless of their past or current relationship)
- People who are dating/have dated
How does a Judge decide to issue a Criminal Protective Order?
When you are being arraigned, the prosecutor and/or a representative from Family Services will make a recommendation to the Court as to whether a Protective Order should be issued. The judge has the final decision about whether to issue a Protective Order and the judge relies on input from the prosecutor and Family Services representative. While the judge considers information from all parties when making a decision, the judge knows that it is the attorney’s role to advocate for his or her client and will rely on input from the prosecutor and Family Services representative. Your attorney can try to come to an agreement with the prosecutor and Family Services representative prior to your arraignment.
What kinds of Criminal Protective Orders can a Judge Impose?
There are three types of Criminal Protective Orders a judge can impose. The judge can issue the following Orders:
1. Residential Stay-Away
requiring you to stay away from the home of the protected party.
2. Full Protective Order
prohibiting you from having any contact with the protected party.
3. Partial Protective Order
prohibiting you from threatening or harassing the protected party.
Regardless of whether the Court issues a Full or Partial Criminal Protective Order, these orders can extend to other family members, including your children. For this reason, it is important to talk to your lawyer and identify any issues that you think will arise from the imposition of a Criminal Protective Order prior to appearing in front of the judge.
How can the Terms of a Protective Order affect me?
Conditions set forth in a Protective Order may cause a tremendous hardship for you, depending on your relationship with the protected party – especially when children are involved.
If your children are not protected parties in a Protective Order and:
- the Court issues a Residential Stay Away where your children live, you must make other arrangements to visit or see them somewhere other than your home.
- the Court issues a Full Protective Order prohibiting you from contacting the mother or father of your children, you cannot contact the protected party regarding your children and need to make alternative arrangements to facilitate custody or visitation.
If you are in this type of situation or have similar circumstances, it is important to tell your attorney so he or she can help ensure you are compliant with the terms of the Protective Order.
Do I have to abide by every condition of the Protective Order?
YES! You have to abide by the conditions of the Protective Order, even if the protected party tries to contact you or indicates through words or actions that he or she does not want the Protective Order to be in place and he or she “gives you permission” to ignore the Order of Protection. Speaking with the protected party under any circumstances can result in you being charged with violation of the Protective Order. Violation of a Protective Order is a Class D felony and is punishable by up to five years’ incarceration.
Until and unless a judge grants a motion to modify a Protective Order or until your criminal case is resolved, you have to abide by the conditions. You can always file a motion to modify the Protective Order, but you cannot change the terms that are imposed within the Order by agreement between you and the protected party or parties. If you wish to modify a Protective Order, make sure to discuss it with your attorney and know your options.
Can I stop a Criminal Protective Order from being issued?
Sometimes. There are times when your attorney will be able to work out an agreement by communicating with a Family Services representative and the prosecutor.
- Speaking with Family Services
You will be required to meet with a Family Services representative prior to appearing in front of the Court on your domestic violence case. It is important to make sure to tell the Family Services Representative about the nature of your relationship with the complainant, living situation, family circumstances and any other relevant facts so the information you provide can be factored into what type of Protective Order should be issued or if one should be issued at all.
The Family Services representative will ask you questions about the incident that led to your arrest and has likely already met with the complainant. Talk to an attorney before attending this meeting as your attorney may advise you not to discuss any facts related to the case or protected party. Anything you say can be used against you in your criminal proceeding, including at a trial if you decide to go to trial.
- Have your attorney speak with the prosecutor
While the prosecutor may agree with the Family Services representative’s position regarding the issuance of a Protective Order, he or she may also be receptive to your attorney’s input. Even if a prosecutor does not come to an agreement with your attorney about the Protective Order at the initial court appearance, the parties may be able to work out an agreement that involves modification of the Protective Order at a later court date.
In many cases, your attorney and the prosecutor can come to an agreement where the prosecutor will support a motion to modify the Protective Order if you participate in or complete a specific type of counseling or treatment.
How Long do Protective Orders remain in effect?
Protective Orders remain in effect unless modified by the Court or until your criminal case is resolved. Make sure you know what you can and can’t do, and how long the Protective Order is in effect.