Connecticut frowns upon many offenses, including domestic violence or forms of it. The state’s laws protect partners, children, and other family members from domestic violence through various legal instruments, including a restraining order.
Restraining orders are granted by a family court to protect victims from their aggressors. The terms of each restraining order may differ, however, the basic remains to keep the victim safe from their aggressor by limiting access and how close the aggressor can be in the victim’s vicinity.
What is a Restraining Order?
A restraining order is granted by a family court judge and only applies to people within the subset of a family or those with personal or emotional relationships. Restraining orders can be issued to a victim irrespective of whether they have pursued a criminal protective order or not.
In terms of duration, a restraining order often lasts longer than a protective order. In most cases, protective orders often last as long as a case is in court. The order is often lifted at the end of the case when the defendant may be found guilty and punished or found not guilty and discharged.
What is a Protective Order?
A protective order is granted by a criminal court judge after a defendant or suspect’s arrest. Such orders are commonplace in cases with elements of assaults, physical or life threats, injuries, and/or stalking.
Unlike restraining orders, protective orders only last as long as a case is in court. The order is often revoked at the end of the criminal proceeding.
Levels of Restraining Orders in Connecticut Domestic Violence Cases
Family courts can grant different levels of restraining orders to victims after a domestic violence charge has been brought forward. Protective orders can also be granted to victims by criminal courts or during a civil hearing, depending on the case being treated.
Depending on the type of charges leveled against the aggressor or defendant, the court may grant one of the following restraining orders against the defendant.
Partial or Limited Restraining Order
A partial or limited restraining order allows full contact between the defendant and the victim. This restraining order allows both parties to live together but protects the victim from being further harassed, threatened, or assaulted.
This restraining order further reiterates the victim’s rights and reinforces the existing laws. Violating this restraining order can lead to stringent measures or punishments for the defendant.
Residential Stay-Away Order
This restraining order forbids the defendant from approaching the victim’s home or workplace. However, the defendant can meet with the victim in public places, via the Internet, or via phone calls and text messages.
This level of restraining order means the defendant isn’t allowed to stay in the same house or under the same roof as the victim.
Full No Contact Restraining Order
A no-contact order CT is the strictest form of a restraining order and is usually issued after one of the less strict orders has been violated or in instances where the victim’s life and health are considered at risk. Such a restraining order forbids the defendant from making contact with the victim until such a time that the restraining order is lifted.
This order will often prohibit the defendant from being within a certain distance from the victim. This is done to protect the victim from further injuries, threats, harassment, and assaults.
Unlike the residential stay-away order, defendants are required to remove themselves from the victim’s vicinity even if they’ve encountered them in public spaces like gyms, grocery stores, supermarkets, etc. Failure to remove oneself from the victim’s vicinity can lead to a violation of the court’s orders.
Who Can File for a Restraining Order Under Connecticut Laws?
Restraining orders are domestic, meaning they can only be obtained against a family member or partner. People who can get a restraining order include;
- Partners and ex-partners
- Parents, children, and other relatives
- A member of a household or an ex-member of a household
- A partner with whom you share a child or children, whether cohabiting or not
- A current or ex-boyfriend or girlfriend
- A caretaker providing shelter in their home to persons over 60 years.
How to Apply for a Restraining Order in Connecticut
The Connecticut restraining order laws allow any of the recognized parties to request a restraining order against another qualified person. To apply for a restraining order, follow the steps below;
Fill Out the Restraining Order Court Forms
Family law courts in Connecticut offer residents a chance to file for restraining orders online by filling out forms available on the courthouse website at www.jud.ct.gov/webforms. Interested persons can also visit the Court Service Center physically for help.
Some of the important forms to fill out include the following;
Application for Relief from Abuse (#JD-FM-137): This provides the relevant details, including the name, address, and birth date of the abuser. You can also include other important information like gun possession, ammunition, etc.
Affidavit for Relief from Abuse (#JD-FM-138): This provides context to the judge and court on why you need a restraining order.
Request for Nondisclosure of Location Information (#JD-FM-188): This specifies that you want your contact information to be kept confidential. It can be helpful in instances where the victim wishes to relocate far away from their aggressor.
Restraining Order Service Respondent Profile (#SMC-2): This provides the information needed about the other person. Ensure that it is filled out as accurately as possible.
Submit the Forms to the Court Clerk
Once completed, the forms above should be submitted to the court clerk’s office, where they will be treated. Please be advised that the documents must be submitted to the courthouse where the victim or their aggressor lives.
The court clerk will submit the forms to the judge, who will review the details and decide whether to grant a restraining order. If granted, the court will initiate a temporary restraining order pending a court date that will be set to hear the case. Court dates are usually set within 7 to 14 days of granting a temporary restraining order.
Serve the Other Party
If a temporary restraining order is granted, ensure that the Sheriff, Court Marshall, or a process server is used to serve the other party the summon letter.
It is important to be detailed and thorough in filling your forms before submission as it could help the court determine how fast the case should be treated. For example, a person with a gun qualifies for quicker hearing within 7 days while one without a gun can take up to 14 days before the hearing date.
Prepare for Restraining Order Court Hearing
After serving the other party with the court letters, prepare for the hearing date by collecting relevant evidence to prove you have been assaulted, threatened, injured, or put at risk. Ensure that your evidence is in line with the reasons stated for requesting a restraining order.
When appearing in court, ensure that you present your evidence as coherently as you can while defending your request for a restraining order.