Connectiucut’s New Primary Aggressor Statute in Domestic Violence Cases


The Law with respect to family related, domestic violence issues. Book of law with a gavel and a Restraining Order.

As of January 1, 2019, Connecticut just passed a dramatic change in domestic violence enforcement which will have significant effects upon the rights and cases of people who get involved in domestic violence arrests.   The previous law required so called “dual arrests” which meant that Police were required by statute to arrest both or all parties in a domestic violence case if they found probable cause that they had committed a crime.   As probable cause is the lowest standard of proof in a criminal case this very often had the effect of victim’s of domestic violence being arrested after having called 911 for help when the attacker or abuser claimed that the victim “hit them first” or other similar allegations.  This resulted in a lot of needless cases filling our Courts and a lot of victims getting a bad taste in their mouths for calling the Police.

In some jurisdictions the rate of dual arrests is as high as 30% in domestic violence calls.

While there is no perfect solution the old law needed change.   Hence the new “Dominant Aggressor” Statute also know as Public Act 18-5 which requires that Police conduct an on site investigation and determine who they feel is the dominant aggressor.  Only that person will now be arrested immediately.   This obviously leaves open the door for the possibility for bad police work when our clients may be falsely determined to be the dominant aggressor and the other party gets off scot free.   If this happens to you give us a call so we can take steps to preserve and review the police reports and protect your rights.

Remember if you are under any police investigation you have the right to remain silent and should not make any statements before speaking with a Connecticut criminal defense attorney.  A sample question line I like to follow is . . . . Police – “What happened?” – Answer – “Am I at liberty or am I being detained?”  (If you are at liberty then leave the area immediately – if you are detained then say that you are “taking the 5th” and will not answer any questions until you speak with a lawyer).  It is unbelievable how many criminal cases are cracked through admissions voluntarily given to the police.   The best policy is to remain silent.

Under the new law if the police feel that probable cause exists for the arrest of additional parties they must submit a report to the State’s Attorney’s Office and the police are unable to take any action to arrest the other parties.  Only the State’s Attorney can direct the prosecution of any other parties other than the person the police initially determine is the dominant aggressor.

While the new law solves one problem – the arrest of many victims who are calling 911 seeking help – it creates another problem as the police are now forced to make a rapid and speedy call to judgement as to who is the dominant aggressor and it seems like they may automatically assume that the man is the responsible party.  I think that the degree of investigation and the quality of investigation prior to making a determination about who is the dominant aggressor will vary greatly from one police department to the next and from one police officer to another.

If you have arrested by the police on domestic violence charge give us a call today and let our 27 years of experience go to work to build an effective defense to clear your name. The first consultation is always free. Our firm has earned the prestigious top rated avvo 10 superb rating and we have many 5 star ratings from our satisfied customers and have earned the avvo clients’ choice award for 2017. Please call us today at 203.357.5555 to arrange your free initial consultation.   We are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to assist you if you are being investigated in a domestic violence incident.


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