Experienced Connecticut Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys
In Connecticut, domestic violence cases are treated differently than other criminal matters. Allegations of domestic violence can dramatically affect you and your family. Even just an arrest for a family violence offense can impact your employment and damage your reputation. An arrest for a domestic violence offense may have serious implications on custody or divorce proceedings. If you are charged with a domestic violence crime the Court can issue a Protective Order, requiring you to stay away from your spouse, significant other, children, or even your home.
If you are being investigated for or are charged with any type of domestic violence or abuse, contact the Law Offices of Koffsky & Felsen, LLC. Our attorneys are experienced and skilled in dealing with domestic violence matters and we understand the process and know how to protect your rights. We work closely with our clients to identify how to best resolve your matter based on your unique circumstances. We work as a team to resolve these complicated family issues and protect you at every stage of the criminal proceedings. Attorneys Audrey Felsen and Bruce Koffsky have a thorough understanding of Connecticut law and procedure related to domestic violence cases and will make sure you understand your rights and exercise them throughout the process.
Domestic Violence Charges in Connecticut
Connecticut has many laws that are unique to domestic violence offenses. Domestic violence offenses in Connecticut involve an incident between family or household members that either causes physical injury, or creates fear that physical injury is about to happen. Domestic violence can involve a spouse, former spouse, significant other, former significant other or family member. When someone is arrested for a family violence crime, the familiar relationship between the parties creates different, and sometimes complex, issues. We know how to address issues specific to domestic violence incidents and can help you defend against and resolve these matters.
Some of the most common domestic violence offenses are:
- Physical abuse or assault. This involves conduct such as strangling, punching, kicking, slapping or even pushing another individual. (Note: The incident does not have to have actually caused physical injury to another person to be considered a domestic violence offense. Even physical acts that cause fear of, or present a threat of, injury can be regarded as a domestic offense. This includes acts such as threatening, spitting, throwing objects, and destroying another person’s possessions. Even charges of Breach of the Peace or Disorderly Conduct can be considered domestic violence offenses.)
- Psychological or emotional harm. This involves interacting with another person in a way that causes that person to fear for his or her safety or causes emotional and psychological harm, such as threatening, harassing and stalking. (Note: Allegations of unwanted communication with a partner or ex-partner in person or through phone calls, emails, text messages, third party communication, or following someone, lying in wait, or showing up at a location where you know your partner or ex-partner can be considered a domestic violence crime.)
Police may be called to intervene by a spouse or other family member when tensions escalate, especially in the midst of divorce or custody proceedings. In many cases, law enforcement may arrive at the scene of a domestic dispute and incorrectly assess the situation and charge one party as the dominant aggressor.
Connecticut has a dominant, or primary, aggressor law. A dominant aggressor is defined in Public Act No. 18-5 as the person who “poses the most serious ongoing threat in a situation involving the suspected commission of a family violence crime” and is the person law enforcement determines to be primarily responsible for the incident. If law enforcement responds to a domestic violence incident, they will determine who the dominant aggressor was or who possesses the most serious ongoing threat. The police may require you to leave your house and order you not to contact the other party.
Immediately following an arrest for a domestic violence offense, you will be required to relinquish any firearms you have in possession or have in the house. You must do this within 24 hours.
If children were present during, or involved in any way in, the domestic violence incident, you may be charged with Risk of Injury to a Minor, and the police will contact the Department of Children and Families (DCF). It is important that you contact your attorney before speaking to any DCF caseworker about the incident or your children.
Domestic Violence Court Process
If you are charged with a domestic violence offense, you must appear in Court the following business day and meet with a representative from Family Services, who will make a recommendation to the Court about whether the Court should enter a Protective Order on behalf of the alleged victim or victims.
Before you meet with Family Services, law enforcement or anyone to discuss a domestic violence incident, contact an experienced attorney. Family Services and/or the victim’s advocate will actively participate in your criminal proceeding. Your statements to a Family Services representative, or anyone else, are not confidential and anything you say can be shared with the Court and prosecutor. Talk to your attorney before providing any information to any Family Services representative. You should not discuss the facts of your case, or anything related to your pending matter, without your attorney present.
At your first court appearance, the judge will read you your rights and consider whether to issue a Full Protective Order, Partial Protective Order or a Residential Stay Away.
- A Full Protective Order is an order of the Court that you must not have any contact with the named party/parties in any way, whether in person, by phone or through third parties.
- A Partial Protective Order is an order of the Court that you must not assault, threaten, abuse, harass, follow, interfere with or stalk the protected person.
- A Residential Stay Away is an order of the Court that you not enter or stay at the home of the protected person.
You must abide by the conditions of any Protective Order until and unless it is modified by the Court or your criminal case is resolved. If you violate the conditions of a Protective Order, you can face prosecution. Violation of a Protective Order is a Class D felony, and carries a penalty of up to five years in jail if you are convicted of this offense.
How We Can Help
Attorneys Audrey Felsen and Bruce Koffsky have extensive experience handling domestic violence and family matters in Connecticut. We work as a team and collaborate with our clients to determine the best way to handle your matter based on your individual circumstances. The partners at Koffsky & Felsen, LLC will help you at every stage of the process and make sure you are prepared for every court appearance or hearing. We get involved right from the beginning to identify, preserve and gather relevant evidence including text messages, social media posts and/or other documents that may be necessary to your defense.
If you want to contest (called a Fernando A. hearing) or modify any Protective Order or condition of release, we can file a motion with the Court and schedule a hearing at the next available court date. The Court will seek input from your attorney, the prosecutor, the bail commissioner, and a victim’s advocate or representative from Family Services regarding the modification.
We can file a Motion to Modify the Protective Order. Domestic charges often take a long time to resolve, and during the pendency of the case, you may need or want to modify the conditions of the Protective Order that the Court imposed at your arraignment. We can file this motion on your behalf if circumstances change, or if you want to see your children, access your home, or communicate with the protected party.
We resolve your case in the best way for you and your individual circumstances. We are experienced litigators and will prepare for trial if necessary, but are familiar with all other options and we work with you to think outside of the box based on your input.
You may be eligible to participate in a diversionary program, called the Family Violence Education Program (FVEP). The most common FVEP is a nine week pretrial/diversionary program that meets once a week for an hour and a half and is currently available in all 20 courthouses in Connecticut. The more intensive programs, the Explore and Evolve programs, involve lengthier treatment sessions and cover more material related to domestic violence and family violence conflict resolution.
Note: Sometimes, we can get approval from the Court for our clients to participate in a comparable treatment program to satisfy the FVEP requirements, either with an individual treatment provider or a program in another state/location.
If the Court grants your FVEP application, you will be placed on a probationary period for up to two years. If you successfully complete the required classes and fulfill any other conditions the Court imposes during that probationary period, your case will be dismissed.
Personal relationships can be very complicated. When people live together, are related by blood or marriage, or share children in common, those complexities can result in significant conflict. When intimate partners or family members come into conflict, or make accusations against each other about domestic violence or threats of violence, these accusations may be damaging. It is important to remember that even if you are charged with a domestic violence crime, you are presumed innocent. In some situations, accusations of domestic violence may be completely unfounded or unable to be substantiated.
You may have defenses to domestic violence allegations and an experienced defense attorney can help you defend against criminal charges and clear your name.
Contact a Connecticut domestic violence lawyer today to schedule a case evaluation
A conviction for a crime involving domestic violence has a significant stigma in our society and can have a negative impact on your reputation within your family or community. In addition, if you are found guilty of domestic violence crimes, you can be subject to substantial criminal penalties and may have your parental rights curtailed. For this reason, if you are facing a Connecticut domestic violence case, you should immediately retain an attorney as soon as possible.
Consult with Connecticut domestic violence attorneys Audrey Felsen and Bruce Koffsky if you have any questions about a domestic violence case or if you need representation in a domestic or family matter. Every stage in the process is critical and we are experienced Connecticut domestic violence attorneys who work with our clients every step of the way. We take a rigorous 360-degree approach to defending the rights of individuals facing Connecticut criminal charges. Contact the Law Offices of Koffsky & Felsen, LLC in Connecticut today at 203-327-1500 to learn how we can help you and guide you through the domestic violence process, assert your legal rights and protect your future.