Windam County Orders of Protection
Connecticut Orders of Protection
Protective orders, as they are called in criminal court, and orders of protection, as they are known in civil and family courts, are intended to do the same thing; that is, protect one person from abusive, assaultive, threatening, harassing, following, interfering, or stalking behaviors by another person. The protective orders and orders of protection serve the same function but issue from different courts. (For the following expanation, the terms “protective orders” and “orders of protection” are interchangeable.)
Protected Parties are Victims, Complainants, and Complaining Parties
The person protected is called the “protected party” and is sometimes referred to as the victim, especially in criminal courts. In civil and family courts, the protected party is sometimes referred to as the victim but more commonly as the complaining party or the complainant. The person who the protected party is being protected from is the defendant in criminal court and the respondent in family and civil courts.
Only a Superior Court Judge Can Modify or Change a Protective Order
Whether issued by a criminal, civil, or family court judge, the orders are court orders and can only be modified by a superior court judge. The parties are not free to ignore the court’s order. Even if the protected party invites or encourages the defendant or respondent to disobey the court’s order, if caught and convicted, it is only the defendant or respondent who will suffer a felony conviction for violation of the protective order (VOPO). Non-violent violations of protective orders are punishable by up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine. If violence was used, the VOPO can be punished by up to ten years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Restrictions Imposed by Protective Orders
Protective orders are not all the same. Judges have wide discretion in determining the severity of the restrictions they impose. This is why an effective defense lawyer can be helpful.
At a minimum, all protective orders require that the defendant or respondent, surrender to the police any firearms and ammunition he or she may have in his or her possession. Beyond that they require the defendant or respondent to not assault, threaten, abuse, harass, follow, interfere with, or stalk the protected person. Orders limited to these prohibitions are referred to as “partial protective orders.”
More restrictive orders can require the defendant or respondent to stay away from the protected party’s home and place of work (know as “stay-away orders”) and have absolutely no contact with the protected party (known as “no contact orders”). Under extreme no contact/stay-away orders, the defendant or respondent can be ordered to stay a minimum distance away from the protected party, for example 100 yards or even more.
The most restrictive protective orders can require the defendant or respondent to wear a GPS (global positioning system) ankle monitor, often referred to as an ankle bracelet. In addition to tracking your every movement, these devices can impose extreme restrictions that interfere with normal life and cause much inconvenience and aggravation. They interfere with and restrict the wearer’s daily movements. They must be regularly charged and remain within cellphone reception to work properly. If they malfunction, run out of charge, or the signal is lost for any reason, the defendant or respondent may encounter additional legal trouble.
The wearer is not allowed to remove the device from his or her ankle. The monitors are not waterproof. So, even normally simple things like going to work, taking a shower, bathing, wearing short pants or a skirt, or going to the beach or a pool in summer, become difficult chores at best or impossible and humiliating experiences at worst. These hardships can last until the case is finally over. Tampering with or removing the monitor can result in even greater legal trouble.
No Contact Means No Contact
No-contact orders, literally mean no contact. The defendant or respondent is strictly forbidden from contacting the protected party in any way by any means. That means no in-person visits, no verbal communications, no phone calls, no text messages, no emails, no social media communications, no written letters, no notes, no cards, no flowers, no box of chocolates, no nothing! Absolutely no contact at all either directly with the protected party or indirectly through a third person!
Protected Parties Can Contact Defendants or Respondents
Protective orders are one-way streets. The defendant or respondent is prohibited from contacting the protected party but the protected party is not prohibited from contacting the defendant or respondent! If the protected party contacts the defendant or respondent, the defendant or respondent is well advised to simply ignore the protected party, even if it seems rude. He or she may report the contact to the police. If the defendant or respondent responds to the protected party either directly or indirectly, the defendant or respondent gets in trouble, not the protected party.
Civil and Family Court Orders of Protection
As their names imply, civil and family court orders of protection are issued by civil and family court judges. They are similar to each other and to criminal court protective orders in their effects on respondents. In civil and family courts, the person filing an application for an order of protection is known as the “complainant” or the “complaining party.” Civil and family court orders of protection differ from each other only in the relationships between the parties involved.
Civil court orders of protection are designed to protect a complainant from abusive, assaultive, threatening, harassing, following, interfering, or stalking behaviors by an unrelated respondent; typically, neighbors or community members.
Family court orders of protection are designed to protect a family member, spouse or former spouse, current or former cohabitating or intimate partner, current or former girlfriend or boyfriend, from abusive, assaultive, threatening, harassing, following, interfering, or stalking behaviors by the named respondent.
Unlike criminal protective orders, the respondent in civil or family court need not have been arrested or charged with a crime. Not infrequently, a defendant charged with a crime of domestic or family violence is also subject to a family court order of protection. Likewise, a criminal defendant may be subject to a civil court order of protection as well as a criminal court protective order. Duplicate protective orders from different courts further complicate matters for criminal defendants.
Temporary Restraining Orders and Orders of Protection
A complaining party can file an application for an order of protection and an “ex parte” temporary restraining order (TRO) in civil or family court, whichever is appropriate. The complaining party or complainant, must complete court forms and a sworn statement (an affidavit), explaining why he or she wants an order of protection. The affidavit is supposed to allege sufficient facts of abusive, assaultive, threatening, harassing, following, interfering, or stalking behaviors to cause the complaining party to reasonably fear he or she is in imminent danger from the respondent.
Ex Party Temporary Restraining Orders
When a complainant files the completed court forms and a judge reviews them, the respondent is not present. He or she probably doesn’t even know what the complaining party is doing. Because the judge hears the complaining party’s application for a TRO with the respondent absent from the hearing it is ex parte (without that party).
If the judge grants the TRO against the respondent, the court must schedule a second hearing on the application for an order of protection within two weeks so the respondent will have an opportunity to defend against it. If the complaining party swears the respondent is in possession of or has access to firearms, the court must schedule the hearing within one week. If a TRO issues, the complaining party must properly serve the respondent with notice of the TRO and the scheduled hearing on the application for the order of protection.
At that second hearing, if the court finds the respondent was properly served with notice of the hearing, the court will listen to the complaining party, (as well as the family relations officer in family court), the respondent if he or she appears for the hearing, and other witnesses too. At the end of this hearing, the judge could decide against the complaining party and deny the application and dissolve the TRO or the judge could decide in favor of the complaining party and issue an order of protection against the respondent. The restrictions to be imposed by an order of protection are frequently the subject of negotiations between the parties or argument before the judge. This is where an effective defense lawyer can be especially helpful to a respondent.
Temporary Restraining Orders Can Become Orders of Protection
If granted at the second hearing, a civil or family court order of protection can impose the restrictions and consequent hardships on the respondent described above. Civil and family court orders of protection remain in effect for one year. A complaining party can return to court at the end of the year to try to persuade a judge the order of protection should be extended for a longer time.
Criminal Court Protective Orders
Criminal court protective orders can issue against a defendant in any criminal case to protect an alleged victim from the defendant. They almost always issue against the defendant in cases alleging crimes of domestic or family violence.
There is no actual crime called “domestic violence” or “family violence” in Connecticut. Rather, domestic or family violence is a classification of a collection of crimes that are committed in domestic situations; that is, between spouses or former spouses, current or former cohabitating or intimate partners, current or former girlfriends or boyfriends. The actual crimes typically charged in domestic or family violence cases include but are not limited to: disorderly conduct, breach of peace in the second degree, threatening, stalking, harassment, assault, sexual assault, unlawful restraint, reckless endangerment, risk of injury to minors, etc. The charges can be felonies or misdemeanors.
Whatever the actual criminal charges, all incidents classified as domestic or family violence have two things in common. First, the accused is required to be in court for arraignment on the very next day court is open after the arrest. Second, the judge will issue a criminal protective order against the defendant in favor of the “protected party” also frequently referred to as the victim. If both parties involved were arrested and charged with crimes, the judge will typically issue mutual protective orders to protect each party from the other.
Normally, criminal protective orders expire at the end of the criminal case. However, at the sentencing hearing, a protected party or a prosecutor can ask the judge for a “standing” criminal protective order. If the judge grants it, the protective order remains in effect for the rest of the defendant’s life.
Windham Defense Lawyer Jerome Paun Can Defend You Against Orders of Protection
A skillful and experienced defense attorney, like Jerome Paun, can help minimize, if not avoid entirely the adverse consequences that come from orders of protection. With proper case preparation, your defense counsel may be able to persuade the judge that the TRO should never have been granted and that the application for a civil or family court order of protection should be denied. In that case, you would completely avoid all the adverse consequences of being subject to an order of protection.
Even if your defense lawyer can’t persuade the judge to deny the complaint’s application for an order of protection entirely, your attorney may be able to minimize the restrictions imposed on you. For instance, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the complaining party, his or her lawyer, and/or the family relations officer, to reach an agreement for a less restrictive order. If that fails, your attorney could argue on your behalf to persuade the judge to issue a less restrictive order of protection. Less restrictive orders impose less restriction on you and reduce your risk of being found in violation later.
At The Law Office of Jerome Paun, we are committed to protecting your rights and future and helping you get your life back on the right track. With more than four decades of experience, Windham criminal defense attorney Jerome Paun can help you navigate through the order of protection legal process to minimize if not avoid serious consequences and potential criminal penalties.
Call us at (860) 455-4202 today and schedule a free initial consultation to learn about your legal options.
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