When Your Partner is Arrested for Domestic Violence: Your Options and the Order of Protection
What to expect and what to do after your partner is arrested for allegedly committing domestic violence against you.
The Order of ProtectionNormally, several hours after you partner is arrested, they will go with an attorney before a judge for their first court appearance, called an arraignment. The judge usually issues a temporary order of protection prohibiting your partner from communicating with you or going to your home or workplace. This will include communication by phone, text, social media, or by third party contact. If you and your partner don't live together but live very close to each other (for example, in the same building), a judge might issue an order of protection subject to incidental contact, meaning if your partner runs into you by accident, he or she hasn't violated the order of protection. The order of protection will last for the duration of the criminal case, and might last longer if the case is not dismissed.
What if I Want to Drop the Charges?If your partner has been arrested for domestic violence, but you don't want them to get in any more trouble, you can't simply make the case go away immediately. Now that the District Attorney (D.A.) suspects that your partner committed a crime, they can continue to prosecute the case. But the case will probably be dismissed eventually if you refuse to cooperate with the D.A. The D.A. will ask you to sign a supporting deposition affirming that the allegations are true. Normally, where your partner is charged with a misdemeanor (like Assault in the Third Degree), the D.A. will have 90 days from the date of your partner's first court appearance to file a supporting deposition with your signature. This time limit is in place because your partner has a right to a speedy trial. If you refuse to sign the supporting deposition for the duration of those 90 days, the court should dismiss the case due to a violation of your partner's right to a speedy trial. If the case is dismissed, the order of protection will usually be lifted.
What If I Want My Partner (or Ex-Partner) to Get in Trouble?You should cooperate with the District Attorney by signing a supporting deposition affirming that the allegations are true. Your partner's attorney may then engage in plea negotiations with the DA. This means that the DA may make an offer to your partner - for example, if he or she pleads guilty to Disorderly Conduct, or Harassment, the sentence will be something agreed-upon, such as an anger management course, community service, or fines. DAs often work with the complainant (i.e., you) to ensure that you are comfortable with the plea offer. A plea may also come with an order of protection so that your partner must continue to refrain from contacting you. There is also something called a limited order of protection, which only prohibits your partner from acting towards you in a way that is illegal anyway. If your partner does not resolve the case by taking a plea, and the case is not dismissed, there will be a trial. The DA will ask you to testify at that trial. In practicality, trials are rare in domestic violence cases, because courts are too clogged to hear very many trials and DAs try to entice defendants with offers that help them avoid the risk of more harsh sentences that may result from losing at trial, such as jail time.