Connecticut Legal Options – Order of Protection
If you have been hit or threatened, the laws of the State of Connecticut can give you special protection and services. Sometimes these laws are called domestic violence or family violence laws. These laws and services can help you even if you and the person who hurt you are going to stay together. Try to get as much information as you can about all your options before you make decisions about your relationship.
You can do the following to get some relief through the criminal and civil justice systems:
- Call the police
- Ask the court for an order of protection, which will mandate the person who abused you to stop. The order can also remove the abuser from the home for safety reasons.
- Ask the court to make orders that will help you protect your children.
- Talk to a Family Violence Victim Advocate (FVVA) for information about the law, the court, and other options you may have. FVVA’s are staff members of local domestic violence programs who work at the state’s criminal courts and are available to help you.
If you think your partner will not obey the law or any restraining or protective order the court has issued, you may want to call your local domestic violence agency (link to provider page) to identify other ways to help keep you safe.
Remember, anyone can be a victim of domestic violence regardless of age, gender, economic status, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or education. Connecticut’s laws and legal options apply equally to all victims of domestic violence. The law also applies to all victims regardless of their immigration status.
For further information about legal options, please refer to CCADV’s Guide to Connecticut’s Family Violence Laws (also available in Spanish) which includes:
- Step-by-step guide to both criminal and civil court proceedings
- Glossary of terms associated with court proceedings
- Information on divorce and separation, as well as child custody issues
- Sample court documents, such a civil restraining order, and instructions for completion
- Resource directory with all criminal and civil court contact information, as well as statewide agencies that can help
Your local domestic violence agency can assist you with navigating criminal court and can sometimes also assist with matters in family court. Advocates can also provide you with information and referrals for low-cost or pro-bono legal representation in your area.
You can also visit CTLawHelp.org, a project of the CT Network for Legal Aid. CTLawHelp.org has several self-help guides available to assist victims with legal issues such as:
- Court fee waivers
- Completing court forms
- Family Violence Leave (leave from work due to family violence)
- What to do when the other parent doesn’t obey a court order for child custody
Statewide Legal Assistance:
If you are in need of legal representation and have very low income, you may qualify for one of Connecticut’s legal aid programs. To find out more, call:
Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut toll-free hotline: (800) 453-3320*
*legal services hotline call-in hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday from 9:00am – 3:00pm and Wednesdays from 1:00pm – 3:00pm; from Middletown and Hartford call 860-344-0380
Visit Connecticut’s Judicial Branch Court & Staff Directory for each Judicial District to find court personnel contact information, as well as directions to each court location.
For additional resources, please visit the Resource Library.
Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence
You can be immediately connected with a program in your area by calling our statewide, toll free domestic violence hotline at (888) 774-2900. You may also call the direct hotline number to get the phone number of your local program. Connecticut’s leading voice for victims of domestic violence and those agencies that serve them. We are a membership organization of Connecticut’s 18 domestic violence service agencies that provide critical support to victims including safety planning, emergency shelter, court advocacy, counseling and support groups, among other services. CCADV is comprised of Connecticut’s 18 domestic violence service organizations that provide critical support to victims of domestic violence. Here are just a few of the services provided by our member agencies:
- Support groups
- Emergency shelter/safe house
- Court advocacy
- Safety Planning
- Lethality Assessment
- Information & referrals
All services are confidential and free of charge. Services are available to all individuals regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, or physical and/or intellectual ability.
CT Domestic Violence Laws
Connecticut has many laws that are intended to help keep victims of domestic violence safe and hold offenders accountable for their actions. These laws, referred to as domestic violence or family violence laws, apply to victims regardless of their age, gender, economic status, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, education, or immigration status. Some of the laws (also known as “statutes”) created by the CT General Assembly to help keep victims safe are described below with links to the full statutes. Please note that “C.G.S.” stands for CT General Statutes, which are the laws of the State of Connecticut.
Family Violence and Family Member Defined
In Connecticut, it is illegal for someone to physically assault, stalk or threaten you even if that person is a member of your family or household, or is someone you have dated. Connecticut defines family or household member to include any of the following persons regardless of their age:
- Spouse or former spouse
- Parents or their children
- Persons related by blood or marriage
- Persons other than those related by blood or marriage but who presently reside together or have resided together (e.g.; roommates)
- Persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever been married or lived together
- Persons who are currently in or who have recently been in a dating relationship
C.G.S. § 46b-38a – Family violence prevention and response – states that “Family violence means an incident resulting in physical harm, bodily injury or assault, or an act of threatened violence that constitutes fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, including, but not limited to, stalking or a pattern of threatening, between family or household members. Verbal abuse or argument shall not constitute family violence unless there is present danger and the likelihood that physical violence will occur.”
Penal Code/Criminal Offenses
There are many criminal offenses that constitute family violence if they occur between individuals that meet the above definition of family or household member. Some of those offenses are listed below.
- Assault – There are several degrees of physical assault that cover different levels of physical injury inflicted by another person, which may or may not include the use of a weapon.
- Threatening – There are two degrees of threatening that include threats which intentionally cause you to fear physical injury and that may or may not include the use or threatened use of a firearm.
- Stalking – There are several degrees of stalking that cover crimes in which an individual follows you and causes you to fear for your safety or the safety of others.
- Strangulation – There are several degrees of strangulation that cover those assaults where someone restrains you by the neck or throat and impedes your ability to breathe.
- Sexual Assault – There are several degrees of sexual assault, only a few of which are listed below. Remember, just because you are married or in a dating relationship, it is illegal for your partner to force you to participate in any sexual activity that you do not want to do.
- Violation of a Court Order – Once a judge puts a civil restraining or criminal protective order in place to keep you safe, it is illegal for you abuser to violate it. While some types of violations may result in a contempt of court, others are criminal violations and can result in the arrest or re-arrest of the offender.
Please note that the above list is not exhaustive of all of the violent crimes that constitute family violence. For a complete list of Connecticut’s penal code, please visit the CT General Assembly website.
Civil Restraining Order
Victims of family violence in Connecticut have the right to request relief from the abuse they are suffering in the form of a civil restraining order. This court order will help protect you from further abuse and might include provisions such as requiring that your abuser leave the home or prohibiting your abuser from contacting you. Civil restraining orders can be in effect for up to one year with the possibility of requesting an extension. C.G.S. § 46b-15 – Relief from physical abuse – states that “Any family or household member, as defined in section 46b-38a, who has been subjected to a continuous threat of present physical pain or physical injury, stalking or a pattern of threatening, including, but not limited to, a pattern of threatening, as described in section 53a-62, by another family or household member may make an application to the Superior Court for relief under this section.”
Criminal Protective Order
Criminal protective orders are made at the time of arraignment during a criminal proceeding. Family Relations or the state’s attorney often request protective orders. They provide similar protection to the civil restraining order, but can only be made following an arrest/arraignment. They typically remain in effect until the end of the criminal case. However, Standing Criminal Protective Orders can be issued and remain in effect for a lifetime or until further action by the court.
C.G.S. § 46b-38c -Family violence response and intervention units. Protective Orders. – states that “A protective order issued under this section may include provisions necessary to protect the victim from threats, harassment, injury or intimidation by the defendant…”
Early Lease Termination
Victims of family violence in Connecticut have the right to terminate their lease early and without penalty if they reasonably believe that it is necessary to vacate the dwelling due to fear of imminent harm to themselves or their children. Victims must give 30 days notice to their landlord and satisfy certain requirements to prove they are a victim of family violence.
Leave from Employment
In Connecticut, employers with 3 or more employees must allow workers experiencing family violence to take up to 12 days off in a calendar year for certain issues resulting from the violence, such as the victim needing to seek medical care or attend a related court hearing. The leave only has to be paid if the employee is eligible for paid leave and if the leave will not exceed the maximum amount of leave due to the employee during any calendar year.
In Connecticut, if you are a victim of family violence or sexual assault you have the right to keep your address confidential by using the Address Confidentiality Program offered through CT’s Office of the Secretary of the State. This program provides you with a substitute mailing address so that the address of where you live can be kept private.
You must apply for the program through one of the state’s 18 domestic violence agencies or one of the state’s sexual assault programs. To learn more about the program, visit the Office of the Secretary of the State.