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fairfield county real estate attorneyIt is no secret that the real estate market exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic and has continued that momentum. If there are any doubts about the condition of the market, all one has to do is take a look at the number of mortgages that have been taken out. According to national data, the year 2021 was a record year, with more than $1.6 trillion granted in mortgages, the majority of those mortgages to first-time home buyers. This number surpasses the last record set, in 2005 of $1.15 trillion, and surpasses the second-highest record set just in 2020, where lenders gave out $1.5 trillion in mortgages.

Housing Boom

Although the prices of homes increased by more than 19 percent during 2021, there are a number of reasons cited by economic analysts for the phenomenal increases in the housing market. The labor market is still going strong, including increases in pay – which grew more than 4.5 percent nationwide. The market is also being driven by low interest rates, leading many first-time home buyers to sign on all those dotted lines required during a property closing. It is estimated that almost 70 percent of people purchasing new homes in 2021 were buying their first homes.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Look Over My Mortgage Agreement?

However, just because there is so much mortgage activity going on, does not mean that anyone who is applying for a mortgage to purchase a home should not take the appropriate steps to protect themselves. Even if you are dealing with a financial institute that you have been doing business with for years, there are still issues that could arise that end up costing you thousands of dollars.

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stamfordIn December of 2018, former President Trump signed into law The First Step Act. The Act had two goals to meet: improving the conditions for prisoners incarcerated in federal prisons and cutting unnecessarily long federal sentences. This week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a new rule it is implementing that will begin the release process for thousands of federal prisoners currently sitting in prison.

The First Step Act

Under the First Step Act, federal inmates were granted the chance to earn up to 15 days of time credits for every 30 days of completed participation in prison programs that were developed to reduce recidivism rates. Qualified programs include those that address educational work, drug treatment, anger management, and social skills.

The new rule is more specific in how many credits are actually earned. Inmates can earn 10 days of time credit for every 30 days they participate in programs, however, if an inmate is able to stay in a “lower-risk category,” they will earn an additional time credit of five days for each of those 30 days.

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fairfield county theft and robbery defense attorneyBeing charged with any kind of theft crime in Connecticut is serious, but when the charge is robbery, the penalties, if convicted, can be harsh. Robbery is defined as taking an item from an individual with the use of force or threat of force. If you have been charged with robbery, you need an experienced criminal law attorney defending you.

Robbery Charges

Robbery is considered a violent crime, which is why the penalties can be so severe. Grabbing property from a victim, threatening them with harm, hitting, kicking, or using any kind of physical force to take an item, or making the victim believe they are at risk of serious injury are all acts that will likely result in a charge of robbery.

Under Connecticut law, the crime of robbery is charged as a felony and the potential penalties depend on which degree of felony the conviction is for:

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CT defense lawyer UPDATE: It has been a decade since Connecticut decriminalized marijuana, but in 2021, lawmakers voted to make additional changes to the law. Some of those changes have already taken place, while others will be taking place in 2022 or later.

In July, the law was changed so that adults who are 21 years of age or older are now able to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis on their person or up to five ounces in a locked container in their home or a locked glove compartment or trunk in their vehicle.

As of October, any adults 18 years or older who have been issued medical marijuana cards are allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants inside their residence. Beginning in July 2023, any adult who is 21 years or older will be allowed to grow up to six plants indoors.

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stamford real estate lawyerThe new year usually means new laws for Connecticut citizens. Many of the bills that are enacted into laws during the prior year usually go into effect on January 1st of the new year. The year 2022 is no different. One of the new laws taking effect next week addresses the legality of accessory apartments in the state.

What Are Accessory Apartments?

The real estate market has been booming in the United States for the past few years. Sellers definitely have the upper hand, setting high prices for their properties that often result in bidding wars between buyers and “under contract” signs within days of the property being put on the market.

This housing boom has also had a significant impact for renters, as well. Not only have the prices of rental units skyrocketed, but many landlords have also decided to take advantage of the current market, selling their rental properties and leaving renters with few options for finding affordable housing.

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connecticut drunk driving defense lawyerThe month of December brings with it many gatherings and parties. For a lot of people, this also means alcohol may be enjoyed. Unfortunately, it also means that some people may find themselves facing a drunk driving charge as we ring in the New Year. If you find yourself facing DUI charges in Connecticut, there may be some viable defense options that a skilled criminal defense attorney can use to defend you.

Chemical Tests

When a driver is stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence, there is a strong possibility that the officer who has pulled the driver over will insist on some kind of chemical testing. In many cases, the officer will conduct a breath test at the scene, however, there are also scenarios where law enforcement will obtain a warrant for a blood test.

Both tests will show what the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is. In Connecticut, a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher means that the driver is legally driving under the influence and will be arrested. However, it is critical for a person who has been charged with a DUI to understand that there are circumstances where their attorney may be able to challenge the validity of those test results in court.

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stamford traffic violations lawyerConnecticut State Troopers were busy over the Thanksgiving weekend. According to a statement the agency recently issued, troopers made 50 driving under the influence arrests from Wednesday at midnight until Sunday at 11:59 p.m. State troopers stepped up their enforcement of Connecticut roads during the long weekend, also reporting 501 violations issued for speeding, 118 violations issued for seat belt violations, and another 559 violations issued for other hazardous driving behaviors. Hazardous violations include following too closely and using a cell phone while driving.  

With the holiday season in full swing, drivers should be aware that law enforcement will continue to be out in full force between now and the New Year holiday, continuing to arrest drivers they suspect of DUI and issuing violations for traffic infractions.

DUI Arrests

In Connecticut, a driver will be arrested and charged with driving under the influence if they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher. Penalties for drunk driving convictions in Connecticut are harsh. A first offense conviction will result in a license suspension and could also lead to either jail time or community service. There are also fines that will be ordered.

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stamford criminal defense lawyerThere have recently been multiple reports about an increase in retail theft across the country. According to the results of surveys conducted by the National Retail Federation, retail stores are getting hit more often, especially by organized retail theft gangs. There has also been an alarming increase in the number of incidents where the alleged thieves are more violent and aggressive towards store employees who try to stop them.

Rise in Connecticut Incidents

Stores throughout Connecticut have also experienced a marked increase in retail theft incidents. Grocery stores, in particular, are reporting more and more retail theft incidents to law enforcement. Many of these incidents involve multiple people working together to steal products, as organized retail crime has become more of an issue over the past several years. There has also been a spike in the number of incidents where violence and threats of violence were made against store employees when confronted.

In one recent incident, a store manager confronted two males and a female as they were leaving a store with a shopping cart filled with items they had not paid for, and one of the men pushed the manager to the floor.

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stamford criminal defense lawyerAs of this writing, 36 states allow for the medical use of cannabis products, and 18 states have enacted legislation to regulate cannabis for nonmedical use. The state of Connecticut was the 18th state to legalize the recreational use of cannabis for adults.

Whether you are in a state that has approved the use of marijuana for medical or recreational reasons, you can technically still be charged with a federal drug crime if you use or dispense the drug. This is because federal law almost always overrides state law, and despite the legalization of marijuana for various uses in different states, it is still considered an illegal drug under federal law.

Differences Between Federal and State Law

The federal Controlled Substances Act prohibits any use of marijuana, categorizing it as a drug with no accepted medical purpose and a high potential for abuse. In states that have passed medical marijuana laws, a person is allowed to use medical marijuana to treat a debilitating condition. The person must have a prescription from their doctor for one of the approved medical conditions the state law allows. Medical marijuana laws also regulate the producers and dispensaries licensed to produce the drug and it is at these dispensaries where people are required to purchase their medical marijuana. 

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weapons, Stamford criminal defense attorney

Next month will be the ninth anniversary of the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT, where a 20-year-old man shot and killed 20 children between six and seven years old and six adult staff members. There has been major debate on gun control and gun ownership in the almost decade since the tragic event, including some changes to gun laws in Connecticut.

In 2018, Connecticut lawmakers passed a new law regarding firearms, specifically focused on any illegal attempt at mechanical enhancements that enables rapid firing of the gun. These enhancements basically take a semiautomatic weapon and turn into a machine gun. There have been multiple mass shootings where the shooter used rapid-fire enhanced guns.

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connecticut criminal defense lawyerAccording to data compiled by the FBI for its uniform crime report released every year, there has been a significant drop in the overall crime rate in the state of Connecticut over the past ten years. The rate of violent crimes has dropped almost 40 percent in the last decade, giving the state the fourth lowest ranking in the country. The rate for property crimes has fallen by almost 30 percent, putting Connecticut in the bottom 15 states.

The rates that have not dropped, however, are for homicides and car thefts. In fact, those rates have risen dramatically, leading some lawmakers to propose stricter criminal justice laws, especially aimed at juveniles.

Rising Car Theft and Homicide Rates

One of the main reasons cited for the increase in car thefts is that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were staying at home – and not always locking their vehicles up. This meant there were many more vehicles vulnerable to theft.

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Stamford Drunk Driving Defense LawyerAs October winds down and we enter the last weekend of the month, many people will be attending Halloween parties and other festivities. Many people will also be drinking alcohol at these events. Unfortunately, drunk driving is responsible for almost half of the car accident fatalities that occur Halloween night. There is also a high rate of pedestrian deaths that are alcohol-related, more than 25 percent.

These high statistics have led to more and more law enforcement patrolling roads, watching out for drunk drivers. There are also many DUI checkpoints that are set up in the effort to keep drivers under the influence of alcohol off the roads. If you have been arrested for drunk driving, you could be facing significant penalties depending on the circumstances of your arrest.

DUI in Connecticut

Under Connecticut law, if you are operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher, you will be arrested and charged with DUI. If you are under the age of 21, a BAC of .02 percent or higher will get you charged.

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stamford real estate lawyerOver the past year or so, the real estate market has been booming here in Connecticut and across the country. The norm has become that when a “for sale” sign is put in front of a home, it is only a matter of days before an “under agreement” sticker is added.

If you are in the market for a new home or have already been lucky enough to have an offer you put on one accepted, there are a myriad of issues that need to be addressed for the transaction. While there is no law that legally requires a buyer to retain the help of a real estate attorney, having one looking out for your best interest can be critical to avoiding costly legal issues further down the road.

How a Real Estate Attorney Can Help

The majority of residential real estate transactions are done with the assistance of a real estate broker or agent. It is not uncommon for there to be two agents involved in a sale – the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. Keep in mind, however, that these agents are earning commissions on the sale. Therefore, their goals will be to do everything they can to ensure the sale goes through. If the purchase falls through, there is no commission and no financial reimbursement for the hours the agents have spent on the potential transaction.

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stamford criminal defenseIf you live in Connecticut and suspect there is an active warrant out for your arrest, there are critical steps you should be aware of. Whether or not you have actually committed the crime, a warrant means that police have enough probable cause to believe you did, a prosecutor agreed, and the warrant was issued. Before contacting police, it is important to contact a Stamford criminal defense attorney first.

Types of Warrants

There are two types of warrants that may be issued – an arrest warrant or a bench warrant. An arrest warrant is issued by a judge and cites a specific crime the individual is being accused of. An arrest warrant does not expire and is valid until the accused is in the custody of law enforcement.

Bench warrants are issued if a person out on bail fails to appear for any scheduled court dates or fails to comply with any orders issued by the court. It is usually issued by the judge who is presiding over the case. A bench warrant can also be issued for failing to pay a traffic violation, failing to pay child support, or even failing to appear for jury duty. While a bench warrant may not sound as serious as an arrest warrant, the result is the same – the accused will eventually end up in police custody.

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stamford criminal defense lawyerThe state of Connecticut is teaming up with New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania in an effort to combat gun violence and shutting down gun networks that pass back and forth across state lines. The four states will be sharing information regarding firearm purchases in order to help prevent gun crimes, including straw buyers. This data that is shared will only be available to law enforcement.

States’ Agreement

According to the governors from each of the states, the issue of guns crossing state lines has become an epidemic, citing how gun violence had spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the announcement, the governor of New Jersey pointed out that almost 85 percent of guns that have been recovered by law enforcement during the past six months have come from other states.

The four states will use the information they receive from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that reveals who purchased and sold any guns that are seized during a criminal investigation. Each state will have designated law enforcement personnel who will be the only ones to have access to the information. Should there be any unauthorized access, copying, disclosure, or any other misuse, the state must notify the other states right away.

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Stamford Commercial Trucking Traffic Violations LawyerTruck drivers are required to follow strict regulations related to the operation of commercial vehicles. Some of the most important of these regulations address the amount of cargo a commercial truck is allowed to carry. Weight limits are based on the number of axles on a truck and trailer, and truck drivers are required to have their trucks weighed regularly to ensure that they are in compliance with these limits. Drivers who are charged with overweight truck violations will need to understand the specific penalties they may face and how these penalties may affect their ability to continue driving a commercial vehicle.

Fines and Other Penalties for Overweight Violations

Most of the time, the amount that a driver will be fined will be based on how far their truck is over the weight limit. The fines are charged as follows:

  • Less than 5 percent overweight - $3 per 100 pounds over the weight limit, with no minimum fine

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Fairfield County DUI Defense LawyerBeing pulled over by a police officer can be a stressful and intimidating experience, especially if the officer may have reason to believe that a person was driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. An officer will look at a number of factors when determining whether a person may be intoxicated, and in some cases, a driver may be asked to take field sobriety tests. These tests involve multiple physical or verbal activities that allow an officer to gauge a person’s level of intoxication, and the results of these tests may provide probable cause to make an arrest. Drivers can be sure they are addressing these situations properly by understanding the types of tests they may be asked to perform and how these tests may indicate intoxication.

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

People may be familiar with tests that may be used by a police officer to determine whether a driver is intoxicated, if only because they have seen them performed on TV shows. Some of these depictions may involve a person being asked to recite the alphabet backwards or touch their fingertips to their nose. However, there are only three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) that are approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • Walk and turn - In this test, an officer will ask a person to stand with the heel of their right foot touching the toe of their left foot. They will then be asked to take nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line with their arms at their sides, turn around, and take nine steps to return to their original position. If a person loses their balance, steps off the line, stops walking to steady themselves, raises their arms to maintain balance, does not turn correctly, or otherwise fails to follow the officer’s instructions, this may be seen as an indication that they are intoxicated.

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Stamford, CT Larceny Defense LawyerThere are multiple different types of offenses that fall under the category of property crimes. While some of these crimes involve blatant theft, such as shoplifting or robbery, others are more subtle, and they may be related to a person’s activities as an employee or their handling of someone else’s money or property. Embezzlement is one such offense, and those who have been accused of this crime will need to understand the nature of the charges they may face and their options for defense.

What Is Embezzlement?

A person may be accused of committing embezzlement if they wrongfully take or appropriate someone else’s property that is in their possession or care. Embezzlement is generally related to a person’s activities when handling money or property for an employer, although it may also involve the mismanagement of property or assets that a person holds on behalf of a family member, friend, or business associate.

Some examples of embezzlement include:

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Fairfield Drunk Driving Defense AttorneyOriginally published: February 26, 2018 -- Updated: September 2, 2021

UPDATE: In addition to the consequences of causing someone’s death due to driving while intoxicated, a person may also face criminal charges if they cause a serious injury to one or more people. In some cases, a driver may be charged with assault, and when the assault is committed with a motor vehicle, this is a felony offense.

The charge of second-degree assault with a motor vehicle applies when a person causes a serious physical injury to someone else because they were operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. An injury is considered a serious physical injury if it puts a victim at risk of being killed, results in disfigurement, or causes them to experience significant impairments to their health (including the loss of an internal organ or the loss of function of organs or bodily systems).

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CT real estate lawyerWhen buying or selling a home, a purchase contract will be created once the seller accepts the buyer’s offer. This agreement will detail the terms of the sale, including important dates during the transaction and the requirements that both parties must meet. Contingencies are an important part of a real estate purchase contract. Buyers and sellers will need to understand the types of contingencies that may be included in an agreement and how these will affect them as they work to complete the transaction.

Types of Contingencies in a Real Estate Transaction

Contingencies are terms in a purchase contract that describe certain conditions that must be met during the transaction. In many cases, these terms will allow one party to back out of the transaction if certain requirements are not met. Common contingencies include:

  • Financing contingency - The buyer will need to qualify for a mortgage loan that will allow them to purchase the home. This type of contingency will allow the buyer to back out of the purchase if they are unable to obtain financing with certain terms, such as a specific interest rate or an affordable monthly payment.
  • Appraisal contingency - The buyer will want to make sure the home is valued at the amount they have offered to pay. This type of contingency will require an appraisal to be performed, and if the home is appraised at a value less than a certain amount, the buyer may back out of the sale, or the purchase price may be modified.
  • Home sale contingency - The buyer may need to sell their current home before they will be able to obtain a mortgage for a new home. This type of contingency will allow the buyer to back out of the sale if their current home is not sold by a certain date. To protect the seller’s rights, the contract may include a kick-out clause that allows the seller to keep the house on the market and back out of the sale if they find a different buyer.
  • Inspection contingency - The buyer will be able to complete a home inspection that may identify defects in the home or repairs that will need to be made. This type of contingency addresses how repairs will be handled or allows the buyer to back out of the sale if the seller refuses to correct the issues uncovered during an inspection.
  • Title contingency - A title search may uncover issues that will affect the parties’ ability to complete the transaction, such as ownership disputes or liens on the property. This type of contingency will allow the buyer to back out of the sale if these issues cannot be resolved before the closing date.

Contact Our Stamford Residential Real Estate Lawyer

Whether you are planning to buy or sell a home, The Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner can help you negotiate a purchase contract that will protect your rights and meet your needs. To set up a free consultation and learn more about how we can help protect your rights during a residential real estate transaction, contact our Fairfield County real estate attorney today at 203-348-5846.

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