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CT criminal lawyerWhen someone is convicted of a crime, they experience both direct and collateral consequences. The direct consequences may be a fine or jail time, but the collateral consequences in some cases are arguably worse. If you are a non-citizen and are convicted of certain crimes, one of the collateral consequences may be that you become deportable under U.S. law. Having an attorney on your side who understands this is crucial if you want to avoid potentially avoidable life-changing events.

Two Types Of Deportable Offenses

Many people believe that receiving a U.S. visa or a long-term status like permanent resident essentially gives someone a free pass - that once they have achieved that status, it cannot be taken away. In reality, a visa holder or a green card holder can have their status revoked if they are convicted of certain crimes. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will take the conviction as proof that they are either a danger to the community, or have exhibited such poor moral character that they cannot be considered an asset to the country.

There are two types of criminal convictions that can render you either deportable or inadmissible (that is, your entry into the country was retroactively deemed invalid). The first category is called crimes of moral turpitude. Moral turpitude is a legal concept that has no real precise definition but is generally described as “an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity” that would shock the conscience of the public with its outrageousness. The second type of conviction is called an aggravated felony, which tends to encompass most violent crimes - but keep in mind that the offense you are convicted of does not actually have to be aggravated, nor a felony under criminal law, to qualify as deportable.

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IL traffic attorneyThe overwhelming majority of drivers have been ticketed during their lifetimes, most often for relatively minor offenses. However, minor tickets can add up, or some Connecticut traffic offenses are considered major enough that you could actually be facing jail time. If you have been ticketed for a traffic offense, it can be tempting to simply plead guilty and pay the fine, or comply with other requirements, but this can open you up to potentially serious legal trouble.

Do Not Ignore Traffic Tickets

People who are ticketed for moving violations or other traffic offenses do not often treat them with the seriousness they should. Because the consequences are often seen as inconsequential - for example, a well-off driver cited for speeding may face a small fine, especially if it is a first offense - many people simply choose to pay the ticket, unaware that they are basically admitting guilt when they do so. In Connecticut, paying a traffic ticket without contesting it is considered a plea of nolo contendere (“no contest”), meaning you do not dispute what you are being charged with.

Any kind of guilty plea carries consequences - it may place one or more points on your driver’s license, as well as requiring driver re-education courses and rarely, may even result in a license suspension. That said, some traffic offenses are, of course, more serious than others, resulting in property damage, injury, or even death. Offenses like evading responsibility (also known as leaving the scene of an accident), driving a vehicle without permission (which can be charged as grand theft auto), or vehicular homicide will usually result in not only in the driving consequences articulated, but also, potentially, in a long prison term.

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Posted on in Violent Crimes

CT defense lawyerMost of U.S. law hinges around the idea that the Constitution protects the right to free speech, and in the strong majority of situations, a person can say what they wish without fear of reprisal. However, there are some rare situations in which mere words can be punished, especially when they communicate conduct that might be threatening in itself. Being charged with threatening in the first or second degree has become more common than it used to be, especially in situations involving bullying or domestic violence, and the consequences can be severe.

There Are Limits to Free Speech

While most people may think that speech is only punished under authoritarian regimes, the reality is that U.S. law has had what it calls time, place, and manner restrictions on free speech since the beginning - particularly when it comes to what is called ‘fighting words.’ The fighting words doctrine is an idea developed in 20th-century cases, essentially holding that any kind of speech that is an incitement to “imminent lawless action” or retaliation of any kind is not protected by the First Amendment.

Connecticut courts have also sometimes invoked what is known as the “true threat” doctrine to decide whether or not to charge someone with criminal threatening. A statement is a true threat if it is comprised of words that the speaker intentionally uses to illustrate a present or future wish to inflict bodily harm on another person. The threat must also be genuine - that is, a reasonable person must get the impression that they will soon be the victim of harm if the threat is carried out. Either of these doctrines can be applied to threatening cases, especially in domestic violence matters where there is an enhanced likelihood of threat against the alleged victim.

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CT defense lawyerThere are several different reasons that your Connecticut driver’s license might be suspended, from accumulating too many points on your record to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Depending on the underlying reasons for the suspension, getting your license back can be a time-consuming endeavor, even though you may need your car to get to school or work. If you have an experienced attorney to help you negotiate the process, it can mean that you get your license back sooner.

Why Suspension?

Between adult and teen drivers, there are countless reasons that a court may either suspend your license or in the case of teen drivers, refuse to grant your application for a license. In addition to point accumulation or DUI, adults can lose their license for failing to answer a summons or pass a remedial drivers’ education course, for committing crimes like vehicular homicide, and for having too many accumulated traffic violations. Teens can have their license suspended for reckless driving or any kind of offense that implies recklessness; these offenses are violations of Connecticut’s teen driving statutes.

Regardless of the reason, you are not permitted to drive any kind of motor vehicle under any circumstances (with very rare exceptions) until your driving privileges have been restored and you have a valid license or learners’ permit in your possession. If you are caught driving on a suspended license, you can be charged with criminal penalties, facing up to 90 days in jail and fines of a minimum $150 for a first offense. If you are caught driving on a suspended license a second or third time, both the jail time and the fines will rise exponentially.

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CT defense lawyerThere are several legitimate medical uses for drugs that are otherwise considered dangerous and illegal to possess - for example, opioids and other painkillers. However, they do not always stay in the right hands, or if they do, sometimes they can be used to excess. If you have been charged with illegal use of prescription drugs in Connecticut, having an experienced attorney on your side can make all the difference in your case.

Drug Crimes Can Carry Serious Sentences

Prescription drugs are covered under Connecticut’s possession and trafficking statutes, and even for a first offense, the consequences can be strict. In addition, Connecticut has specific regulations prohibiting subsidiary offenses like doctor shopping (going to multiple doctors for controlled substances without disclosing that fact to any of the doctors) or obtaining prescription drugs by fraud, which carry their own sentences in addition to any possession charge that you may face.

Most crimes related to drugs are considered felonies in Connecticut, simply because of the potential harm to the individual and society. This means that even a first offense can carry prison time, from one year to 25 in extreme cases. In addition, possession need not always be physical; constructive possession (when you, for all intents and purposes, had control over the drugs) is often enough, and many defendants are unaware of possibilities like these.

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CT defense lawyerBoth juveniles and adults will occasionally engage in shoplifting, for a variety of reasons. However, if you are caught and charged with the theft crime, the consequences can be quite severe. Talking to an experienced attorney can help you understand your options and how best to handle the situation, as trying to navigate the process on your own can lead to significant financial and social issues later on.

Can Be Misdemeanor Or Felony

In Connecticut, there is no such thing as a ‘shoplifting’ charge; rather, a person is charged with larceny, with the degree depending on the dollar value of the item or items they stole. Generally, a person is charged with shoplifting if it can be shown that they intentionally took possession of items offered at a ‘place of sale’ - for example, a store, a flea market or garage/tag sale - without any intent to pay for them. There are six degrees of larceny in Connecticut, with the values ranging from $500 and under for sixth-degree larceny, to over $20,000 for a charge of first-degree larceny.

Most shoplifting charges are for the misdemeanor charges of fourth, fifth, and sixth-degree larceny, and they carry jail terms of a year or less, with fines ranging from a few hundred dollars to $2,000. A first-degree larceny charge carries up to 20 years in jail and a $15,000 fine, but it is rare that a shoplifter has access to steal items worth that much. Juveniles may have their cases heard in juvenile court if law enforcement deems it appropriate, which may help them avoid any confinement term, instead allowing them to complete pretrial detention programs or otherwise pay back the debt.

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CT defense lawyerIn Connecticut, anyone under the age of 18 who is accused of committing a crime will generally be arrested and made to appear before a juvenile court to discuss the case. If your family has never before been involved with the law, this whole process can be a terrible and frightening time. An experienced juvenile justice attorney can help answer any questions and alleviate concerns that you might have so that your child can be certain to have their rights protected during the legal process.

Q: If my child is arrested, do I have any rights during the process?

A: Yes. Parents have a right to be informed about their child’s arrest and are permitted to refuse any interrogation of their children. Arrested juveniles also have a fairly high chance of being released into a parent’s custody unless the alleged offense is very serious (in which case, it will likely be transferred to adult court, where your child will be treated in a similar manner to any other adult offender).

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CT defense lawyerWith the increased nationwide push toward legality for small amounts of marijuana, it can be very easy to assume that possession of marijuana will not lead to any potential criminal consequences. This is, however, not the case - aside from small exceptions, possession of marijuana will wind up leading to fines, possible jail time, and potential social consequences for the future, especially if you are a juvenile. If you have been charged with possession of marijuana, you need to quickly enlist an attorney who has experience with these cases.

Fines and Potential Prison Time

As with most other drug charges, possession of marijuana can be a misdemeanor or a felony charge in Connecticut, depending on how much you are caught with. Generally, possessing amounts between one and four ounces will be charged as a misdemeanor, while amounts four ounces and over will be charged as felonies, carrying the appropriate jail time. A misdemeanor first offense is less likely to result in jail time, especially for younger adults, but you may receive up to one year in jail, plus a $1,000 fine, depending on your specific situation.

Keep in mind that in Connecticut, if you are caught with less than one-half an ounce of marijuana, it is no longer considered a criminal offense; rather it is an infraction, punishable by fines. It does not create a criminal record, in most situations, but it will show up on some background checks in the future, which can cause problems that are much further reaching than any fine. In particular, certain jobs are off-limits to anyone with a history of drug use, as well as some housing opportunities.

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Posted on in Violent Crimes

CT defense lawyerLike in any other state, Connecticut does experience its share of violent crime, though it still occurs less often than one might think. At the same time, when someone is arrested and charged with a violent crime, the pressure is on the prosecution to make certain that the right person is convicted. If you have been arrested and charged with any crime of violence, it is crucial that you seek out an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, as the stakes cannot be higher.

Facing Serious Consequences

A violent crime is any offense involving either bodily injury or the threat of bodily injury, to another person. Some examples, like robbery, can involve the threat of bodily injury being part of committing another criminal offense, but this is not strictly necessary. There is no specific “violent crimes” statute in Connecticut, but many of them are grouped in a similar legal place - in other words, many of them carry the same fines and prison sentences if someone is convicted. Crimes such as assault and battery, kidnapping, domestic violence, murder/manslaughter, sexual assault, and various weapons crimes are just some of the offenses classified as violent in Connecticut.

Violent crimes are generally tried as felonies, and depending on the degree, the resulting jail sentence can be anywhere from 1-10 years for a Class C felony (for example, manslaughter in the second degree), to life without the possibility of parole for a capital felony (murder with special circumstances, such as murder for hire or murder of a child under age 16). While judges do have a degree of discretion in sentencing for many violent crimes, this is not the case for capital felonies, even with Connecticut’s repeal of their death penalty statute in 2012.

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CT defense lawyerThere are a variety of different theft crimes articulated in Connecticut law, but one of the most potentially damaging to its victims is criminal fraud. Fraud is a serious issue that can tar you with the brush of dishonesty for the rest of your life if you are convicted, and if you are charged with a fraud crime, it is crucial that you react appropriately by enlisting an experienced attorney. Fraud crimes are often very specific, and trying to defend yourself alone is not a good idea.

Deceit and Misrepresentation

There are many different crimes that fall under the umbrella of fraud in Connecticut. More specific examples include identity theft, insurance fraud, money laundering, or wire fraud. The central component of these types of crimes is referred to as a fraudulent transaction - one induced by deception or willful misrepresentation, that confers gain on the person who induced it. Generally, if the prosecution can establish that a fraudulent transaction happened and that it happened because of your deception or misrepresentation, it will be able to establish your guilt.

It is important to keep in mind that while most Connecticut crimes are defined by statute (meaning that the legislature has passed laws that specifically lay out a definition and sentence for a crime), general fraud and many other crimes are not. Instead, these crimes are defined by what is called common law. Common law is based on case precedent only, meaning that past cases govern how a court should decide today. This can be a bit confusing for the average person, not least because legal cases are difficult to read, but nonetheless, this is the basis for prosecution for many fraud crimes.

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CT juvenile lawyerWhen a young person is caught damaging property, it can too often signify that something is wrong at home, or at school. However, vandalism is still a crime in Connecticut, and very often, juvenile charges may be brought in order to teach the young person a lesson. Criminal mischief, as Connecticut law refers to vandalism, can remain on your child’s record and cause them problems in the future. Contacting an attorney is a crucial step to deal with these charges.

Criminal Mischief

Criminal mischief in Connecticut is defined as causing any kind of physical damage to another person’s property - including, but not limited to vandalism. The more serious degrees require the intent to cause damage, while third and fourth-degree criminal mischief do not, and the actual damage can be as minor as a small scratch or as large as an all-consuming fire. There are several different reasons why these types of offenses happen for both juveniles and adults, including domestic disputes, pranks, or simply out of malice.

A defendant under the age of 18 may be charged either as a juvenile or as an adult. If you are charged as an adult, the degree of the charge will depend on the value of whatever property was damaged. First-degree criminal mischief is most often the charge when the damaged property is worth more than $1,500, while if the property is worth between $250 and $1,499, the charge will be in the second degree. The penalty for first-degree criminal mischief is a sentence of between one and 5 years in prison, plus fines of up to $5,000, while a second-degree conviction will result in a sentence of one year and $2,000 in fines.

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CT defense lawyerA parent’s primary duty is to help their children grow up into responsible citizens, but sometimes, mistakes will be made along the way. If your child commits a civil offense or a crime, the laws of the state of Connecticut will sometimes hold a parent liable for their child’s wrongdoing, especially if that child is under the age of 18. It is crucial to understand what this might mean for you and your child both, and to seek the help of an attorney if you wind up in a situation that you do not understand.

Statutory Causes of Action

The relevant law on parental liability is fairly wide-ranging. It states that a parent or guardian of any minor who “willfully or maliciously” causes property damage or injury to “any person” will be jointly and severally liable with that minor for any damages up to $5,000. In addition, if a minor takes a motor vehicle without the owner’s permission and causes damage, the same liability will apply. The law places responsibility on parents to police their children, so as to avoid liability themselves.

That said, in Connecticut, there is a juvenile court system and a standard court system designed for adults. When those under age 18 are charged with crimes (like, say, stealing a vehicle), they may be charged in one of three ways: (1) as an adult, if the crime is very serious; (2) as a “youthful offender,” in adult court, but with certain juvenile protections; or (3) in juvenile court, if the crime is a first offense or is not violent or particularly severe. Parental liability is only a possibility if the child’s case winds up in juvenile court because in adult court, an offender is treated like an adult. However, avoiding parental liability in such a case might very well be the lesser of two evils.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_assault_20200402-030343_1.jpgAssault crimes in Connecticut are those that involve one person attacking another, either with or without a weapon, with the intent to make contact. Depending on the degree, you do not need to have intended to injure the person you attacked - but the injured person and the state have a right to seek consequences against you nonetheless. If you have been charged with assault, you need an experienced attorney to help protect your rights.

Mandatory Minimums

There are several different levels of assault charges in Connecticut, ranging from assault in the first degree, down to assault in the third degree with a weapon. In addition, assaults on different types of victims may raise or lower the degree of the charges - for example, assaulting a child or an elderly person is considered a more serious crime, due to the more fragile nature of the victim in these cases. This is especially true if the victim’s injuries are severe; the worse the harm suffered, the more likely one is to face serious consequences.

It is worth noting that assault in the first degree is one of the few crimes in Connecticut that carries a mandatory minimum sentence, meaning that if convicted, there will be at least a part of your sentence that cannot be “suspended or reduced by the court” - it must be served, full stop. The lesser degrees of assault do not carry mandatory minimums, except for if a firearm was used in the commission of the act, but they do carry prison time in most situations, to say nothing of the fines and fees you will have to pay.

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CT defense lawyerIt takes particular skill to drive a large truck on Connecticut highways, but a truck driver must also be aware of the regulations surrounding their ability to do so. If a truck receives a weight violation or another type of citation while it is in the state of Connecticut, it is not something that can be ignored. Depending on the specific situation, it may be a good idea to contact an attorney to handle the issue.

Road Maintenance Matters

It may sound like a relatively minor infraction, but too many overweight trucks on Connecticut roads cause demonstrable wear and tear, which can, in turn, cost the state more money to maintain. The fines collected from overweight trucks go a long way toward offsetting any maintenance money, but the state still has a vested interest in ensuring that its roads are not overburdened.

For many years, a citation for driving an overweight truck used to be a mere formality, requiring a simple fine. Nowadays, however, points are accessed on your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) if you are found guilty of the violation, and if too many points accrue, your license will be suspended. It is possible in rare circumstances to obtain a special overweight permit from the Department of Transportation (DoT), but this is very rare, and often requires special restrictions to be placed on the vehicle in order to allow the extra weight.

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CT DUI lawyerDriving while under the influence in Connecticut is a very serious crime, with the potential to cause fatalities and injuries not only to the people involved, but also to pedestrians. If you are charged with one, the consequences will be serious, but a second DUI ups the proverbial stakes, and there will be far fewer chances to try and seek a lesser sentence. An attorney is absolutely crucial at this stage in order to protect your rights.

First vs Second Offense

Driving while under the influence is a crime in Connecticut, with a first offense being a misdemeanor carrying up to six months in jail plus a fine of up to $1,000. In addition, your driver’s license will be suspended for at least 45 days and your car will be fitted with an ignition interlock device for up to one year. This is all in addition to probation, which has expensive fees that can add up. Depending on your specific situation, you may be able to seek entry into a pretrial diversion program, which can result in your charges being dismissed if you comply with all the required terms.

Even if you do complete a pretrial diversion program and have your first offense effectively erased, a second DUI charge is considered more serious. A second DUI is always a felony charge, carrying a prison term of anywhere between four months and two years, along with a fine of up to $4,000, ignition interlock for three years, license suspension, and probation. With a second DUI, probation will also usually include more requirements, such as community service and alcohol education.

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CT defense lawyerPossessing any kind of illegal drugs in Connecticut (with the exception of very small amounts of marijuana) is a serious offense in Connecticut, and if you are caught, you will face consequences that can be long-lasting, especially for juveniles. Do not try to navigate the court process alone; enlist a knowledgeable attorney who has experience in these cases to make sure that your rights are protected and the outcome of your case is appropriate.

Sentences Are Stiff

Connecticut’s drug laws are specific and uncompromising, and possession is seen as a significant offense, despite the decriminalization of possessing less than ½ an ounce of marijuana. Possessing more than ½ an ounce is generally a misdemeanor while possessing some harder drugs like narcotics can be a felony charge, and possessing hallucinogens like LSD or MDMA is punishable by up to five years in prison for a first offense. Because of the perceived risk to society, drug possession is a crime that prosecutors will often try to pursue aggressively.

That said, not every case of possession is an automatic black mark on a person’s record. The law does recognize certain exceptions to the law governing possession - it states, for example, that where possible, people who “breathe, inhale, sniff or drink” controlled substances are to be afforded medical treatment rather than criminal penalties. Also, no one who is seeking medical help for an overdose will be charged with drug crimes solely on the basis of that status - even though one might infer that they had to have possessed significant amounts of a drug in order to overdose. The law puts the person’s well-being first.

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CT defense lawyerSex crimes cause untold suffering for their victims, but can also cause serious trouble for those unjustly accused. Because these crimes are so serious, sometimes law enforcement will arrest and charge a defendant when they lack sufficient evidence to get a conviction. If this has happened to you, it is crucial that you seek out an attorney with the experience to help you fight this type of charge before its consequences can be visited on you.

A Variety of Charges

Sex crimes under Connecticut law are fairly wide-ranging, as the actual conduct in question may range from a single touch to the more popularly understood perception of sexual assault. However, any offense that can be shown to have a sexual or prurient component may qualify as a sex offense - for example, Connecticut law establishes that any touching of a sexual nature outside the clothing is sexual assault in the fourth degree, which can be a Class D felony or Class A misdemeanor, depending on the specific situation.

State law also allows for the possibility of “aggravated” assault, which may be charged when an alleged sex crime is perpetrated under specific circumstances. For example, a person may be charged with aggravated sexual assault in the first degree if they commit sexual assault in the first degree, but they do so with an accomplice or with a deadly weapon (or they convince the victim they have a deadly weapon they are not afraid to use).

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CT defense lawyerWe live in a volatile age at this point in time, with beliefs that might once have been restricted to private circles finding a place in the open, right in the middle of our national discourse. While free speech should be protected, there must also be limits on what others can say and do without repercussions, and this rationale is what gives rise to hate crime laws. Connecticut’s is fairly specific and strict, aiming to protect marginalized people from crimes based solely on their innate characteristics. If you worry that you have committed a hate crime, you may face some serious penalties based on one bad decision.

“Actual Or Perceived” Characteristics Protected

Every state’s hate crime laws list characteristics protected from harassment or intimidation under its aegis. Connecticut’s primary hate crime law prohibits causing physical injury based on an intent to discriminate or harass based on “actual or perceived” race, religion, disability, sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. In other words, if you have been the aggressor in an attack on someone, and it was based on one of the listed characteristics, you may have committed a hate crime.

It is also worth noting that your victim does not necessarily have to be a member of any of the listed marginalized communities for you to have committed a hate crime - for example, if you attack or harm someone based on homophobia, it does not matter whether the victim is actually a part of the LGBTQ+ community or not. The prosecution will argue that your intent was still malicious and motivated by a protected characteristic, so they can still be charged.

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CT defense lawyerWhen you have been convicted of a crime in Connecticut, you must face the consequences. However, if it is your first brush with the law, or if your conviction is for a crime that is neither particularly violent nor sexual, you may be eligible for a consequence called pretrial diversion. Pretrial diversion programs are meant for those with low-level convictions, designed to try and help people learn from their mistakes instead of skipping right to punitive measures. Contacting an attorney to see if you are eligible may be a good move.

For Lower-Level Crimes

Pretrial diversion programs use several different techniques to try and guide offenders onto a better path, including counseling, community services, drug treatment, and random testing, and education. Those who have been convicted of relatively minor crimes like public drunkenness, criminal mischief, or simple marijuana possession (possession of a small amount of marijuana, with no intent to distribute) can have their record expunged if they complete the program satisfactorily.

Pretrial diversion is also a common sentence given to juvenile defendants, whose offenses are, by law, lesser than most crimes in adult court. Juvenile court, as a rule, is a place where sentences are not punitive, because juvenile defendants are seen to be the most deserving of second chances. (If a juvenile commits a serious offense, their case is usually removed to adult court.) The outcome is largely the same for juveniles who successfully complete a pretrial diversion program, though as long as they do not re-offend, juvenile records are automatically expunged once the person reaches age 21.

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CTdefense lawyerSome young people make bad choices and wind up with a criminal record, which can, in turn, cause them serious problems later in life. However, in Connecticut, it is often possible for juveniles to have their criminal records expunged, meaning that all (or most) of the offenses will be erased as if they had never existed. That said, not every juvenile record is eligible for expungement or sealing, and it is important that you be able to understand the options that you and your child may face.

Three Routes Through The Legal System

Whether or not your child’s record can be expunged will largely depend on how the offense or offenses were disposed of by the Connecticut legal system. Your child will be assessed under one of three categories in the legal system, depending on the offense they have committed. They may have their case adjudicated in juvenile court, where they will be referred to as a juvenile offender; they may have their case removed to adult court and receive special “youthful offender” protections, or they can, if the offense is deemed serious enough, be tried as an adult, and have to navigate the court system as any other adult would.

Each of these three categories can lead to a different outcome in terms of having one’s record expunged. A juvenile offender is not technically convicted of a crime; rather, they are adjudicated delinquent, and unless they commit further crimes requiring the supervision of the juvenile justice system (generally the Superior Court or the Department of Children and Family Services), those delinquencies can be erased automatically after two years. Juveniles are generally seen to merit the most second chances.

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