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East Hartford family violence defense attorneyDomestic violence is a serious social issue that has received increased attention in recent years. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 10 million people become victims of some form of domestic violence each year in the United States. Because of these harrowing statistics, an increased focus has been placed on prosecuting domestic violence offenders. While this is a valiant effort by lawmakers and law enforcement officials, those who face accusations of domestic violence can have a difficult time proving their innocence and dealing with the effects that these charges can have on their relationships, family life, and reputation. If you have been accused of domestic violence, there are a few things you should do to help your situation.

Connecticut Domestic Violence Laws

In Connecticut, domestic violence is referred to as “family violence.” Connecticut statutes define family violence as any act between family or household members that results in physical injury or creates reasonable fear that physical injury will occur. Family and household members can include:

  • People who are related by blood
  • People who are married or used to be married
  • Roommates or former roommates
  • People who are currently dating or used to date
  • People who have a child in common

The state of Connecticut does not charge domestic violence as an offense separate from other criminal charges. Rather, a violent crime that is perpetrated against a family or household member can be denoted as a family violence offense. An alleged offender will be subject to the sentencing guidelines for the specific crime they are charged with, such as:

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Connecticut restraining order, Hartford CT criminal lawyerMany people appreciate the fact that they can get a restraining order against another person in case they are victims of abusive conduct or harassment. However, what people often overlook is that there are three different types of restraining orders available under Connecticut law, each with their own unique effects. First, there are Protective Orders, which judges in a criminal case can hand down after a domestic violence case. Second, there are Reliefs from Abuse, which are available in family court. Finally, there are Civil Restraining Orders, a new form of relief available in civil court outside of the family context. Importantly, regardless of the type of order issued, a violation of any of them is a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Protective Order

Protective Orders are available from criminal courts in two circumstances. First, if a person has been the victim of stalking by a family member, as defined under Connecticut law, then they may be able to receive a criminal Protective Order. Second, if a person has been a victim of family violence that resulted in the arrest of the other family member, then they may also be eligible for a Protective Order. However, people should be aware that a mere argument or physical abuse does not qualify as family violence, unless there was a likelihood of immediate physical violence. Protective orders, which usually last until the resolution of a criminal case, can forbid a variety of behaviors, including restraining the person's freedom, threatening or assaulting the person, or entering the victim's home. There is also an alternate version of the Protective Order, known as a Standing Criminal Restraining Order, which can stay in effect after the end of the case, usually for life.

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Posted by on in Criminal Law
spousal sexual assault, Hartford criminal defense lawyerHistorically, in many areas across the United States, it was not illegal for a person to sexually assault or rape his spouse. In some cases, the exceptions to this rule were only in cases where the couple was undergoing divorce, and had been legally separated for a certain amount of time. The laws have generally changed, and most states, Connecticut included, now have laws against spousal sexual assault.

Spousal Sexual Assault and Connecticut Law

Under Connecticut law, a person cannot force his or her spouse to engage in sexual intercourse by using threats of physical violence against the spouse or another person. The threats may be through the use of a weapon, or by the use of superior physical strength against the victim. For spousal sexual assault to occur there does not need to be complete penetration of one spouse by the other using a body part or object. Even the slightest penetration can lead to a spousal assault conviction. Spousal sexual assault is a class B felony and carries a prison sentence of between one and 20 years, in addition to a $15,000 fine. It is important to note that the person accused of spousal assault does not necessarily need to have intended to sexually assault his or her spouse; all that is needed is the intent to have committed the act that, under the law, qualifies as a sexual assault. (See State v. Ferdinand, 82 A.3d 599 (2013).) Sometimes, in particularly contentious divorces or custody battles, one spouse may use the spousal sexual assault law against the other spouse by making false accusations. The spouse may use these false accusations to leverage a better financial settlement in the divorce, or to make the accused spouse look like an unfit parent unworthy of custody. It is also possible for a criminal court (called a “Protective Order”), to order a spouse accused of spousal abused to stay away from a spouse of the marriage. It can be a very emotionally, physically, and financially draining for a falsely accused spouse to try and clear his or her name. A false accusation can also lead to societal alienation or job loss because, if convicted, the falsely accused spouse may have to register as a sex offender, in addition to serving the other sentences under the law. Contact a Hartford Criminal Defense Attorney If you or someone you know has been accused of spousal sexual assault, you need a Connecticut criminal defense attorney with experience in sexual assault cases. Contact Woolf Law Firm, LLC at 860-290-8690 or 800-923-0557 for an initial consultation.
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