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CT defense lawyerAt common law, assault was the crime of threatening or menacing someone into believing they are about to be harmed. However, in Connecticut, the definition actually requires physical contact and can be tried as a misdemeanor or a felony. If you have been charged with assault, you need an experienced attorney on your side to help ensure that your rights are protected in court.

Several Degrees

Assault in Connecticut can be charged in three different degrees, as of current law, with the specific choice of charge being affected by the severity of the incident. For example, if you cause bodily harm to someone with the intent to hurt them (as opposed to having intent to kill), you would likely be charged with third-degree assault, a Class A misdemeanor. Comparatively, if you cause serious physical injury to someone with intent (or with extreme recklessness), you would most likely be charged with first-degree assault, which is a Class B felony.

In Connecticut, you might also be charged with aggravated assault, which is an enhancement to an assault charge, rather than an individual charge on its own. In other words, a person will be charged with assault, but if they allegedly committed assault with ‘aggravating factors’ (such as, say, the use of a weapon, or the victim being a vulnerable person such as a disabled or elderly person), their charge may be ‘enhanced’ to aggravated assault. Aggravated assault carries stiffer penalties than a standard assault charge.

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CT defense lawyerNo one enjoys getting a traffic ticket. However, too many people simply neglect them when they get them, setting them aside until a moment when the consequences come back to haunt them. If you get traffic tickets in Fairfield County, you need to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible in order to either pay them or fight them - failure to do this can actually impact your driving record in a very serious way.

Many Different Violations and Penalties

There are multiple types of traffic violations in Connecticut, though some are more common than others. Moving violations are generally considered minor, especially if no property damage, death or injury occurs during the violation. However, the consequences can add up. Some of the more common examples include speeding, reckless driving, failure to stop at a sign or traffic signal, going the wrong way on a one-way street, and following too closely. Some traffic violations carry short jail sentences - for example, reckless driving usually mandates a sentence of up to 30 days for a first offense, and up to one year for a second or beyond.

Different violations carry different penalties, in addition to points being assessed on one’s driver’s license. Reckless driving may carry a jail sentence, for example, but those caught speeding have other options - they can either pay the ticket without contesting it, they may contest it and try to have it dismissed, or they can plead nolo contendere (“no contest”) in some situations. Nolo contendere pleas are when someone does not admit to the traffic violation, but they pay the appropriate fine - and for a first offense, no points are usually issued to the driver.

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CT defense lawyerVery often, people who have been arrested and charged with minor crimes in Connecticut might try to navigate the criminal justice system without an attorney, even though they are entitled to one. It can be easy to tell yourself that the charges are minor, that you will be able to manage without paying an attorney - but the odds are overwhelmingly against you managing to talk yourself out of fines and jail time. Enlisting a Connecticut criminal defense attorney is always a better idea.

Trust in Knowledge

While it is possible to represent yourself in a criminal matter, it is emphatically not recommended. You are required to know all the ins and outs of the law, just like any lawyer would, and failure to abide by both law and etiquette can torpedo your case before you even get started. If, for example, you represent yourself and take a plea-bargain, you may find out later on in life that you could have gotten a better deal. It is simply not worth the risk to try and handle a criminal matter on your own.

An experienced criminal defense attorney understands the big and small picture when it comes to the relevant law; they are often privy to potential avenues to get your charges reduced or to seek an alternative sentence to jail time. The average layperson is unaware of many of these options - they do not know, for example, what constitutes a good plea-bargain, or when they might qualify for pretrial diversion as opposed to jail time. Because so many crimes in Connecticut have serious consequences even for a first offense, enlisting an attorney is always a better option.

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CT defense lawyerMany parents are not aware that until their children become adults, they remain responsible for their children’s actions. This can often come as an unwelcome surprise to parents who are surprised out of the blue by police at their door or by bills they did not expect. If you have been advised you may be liable due to your children’s actions, you need to consult an attorney who understands these cases so you can ensure both you and your child’s rights are protected.

Property Damage and Injury

The relevant Connecticut statute is fairly straightforward about the types of offenses for which a parent can incur liability. The key phrase is that a parent is liable when their child “willfully or maliciously” causes damage to any property or injury to any person. It is important to keep in mind that ‘intentional’ has to mean ‘without just cause,’ rather than simply someone choosing to voluntarily act. For example, if a child chooses to act in a way that is almost guaranteed to injure someone, it does not necessarily matter if they had no intention to injure anyone - they still acted in that way.

One specific offense for which parents are often held liable is auto theft by a minor child, especially if they cause damage to the vehicle. In auto theft cases, both parents and minors are often held jointly liable, to ensure that any financial damages are dealt with while the minor child is appropriately handled by the legal system. This is very often the ethos in these types of cases - looking out for the rights of juvenile defendants who may need guidance more than punishment, while still ensuring that injured parties are made whole.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shoplift_20191102-040045_1.jpgShoplifting is an all too common crime, but just because it occurs regularly does not mean that law enforcement does not take it seriously. If you have been arrested and charged with shoplifting, you need an experienced attorney on your side to make sure that your rights are protected. Having any kind of charge on your record can cause problems for you later on down the road.

Dollar Amount Matters

Shoplifting falls under Connecticut’s larceny law, in which ‘larceny’ is used as an umbrella term to cover many different theft crimes. Its rough definition is when someone intentionally takes items from a store or other ‘mercantile establishment’ without intending on paying the advertised price for the goods. It can be confusing to some, but if you have been charged with a theft crime, the charge will likely be larceny, even though it is technically a more specific offense.

The value of the goods that are taken usually determines the severity of the charge - there are six different degrees of larceny, with varying degrees of fines and jail time possible. The most common arrests for these types of crimes are the misdemeanor offenses; fourth, fifth and sixth-degree larceny charges do not yield much jail time - less than one year - but the fines can add up, as well as having to comply with any other type of restriction placed on you by the court.

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CT defense lawyerDrinking and driving is never acceptable under any circumstances and justifiably carries serious consequences, even for first offenders. However, there are ways that a person can make things even worse for themselves when they get caught. Refusing a breathalyzer or other sobriety test is at the top of the list - but at the same time, refusing a breathalyzer is not a crime in Connecticut. Either way, enlisting a Stamford DUI attorney will help you ensure your rights are protected.

A Danger to Others

If you are pulled over on suspicion of drinking and driving, you will be asked to take at least one sobriety test, with a breathalyzer being one that is commonly used in the field. It is not against the law to refuse a breath test in Connecticut (though it is in many other states), If you refuse, state law allows for your drivers’ license to be immediately suspended, generally for up to six months’ time for a first offense, with the length of time rising with each offense and refusal. If you are under the age of 18 and refuse a breathalyzer, the license suspension will be 18 months for a first offense.

This may seem too harsh, but Connecticut sees DUIs as very serious, posing a significant danger to the average person. Failure to take a breath or other sobriety test is seen as a failure to acknowledge the potential hazards of driving under the influence, and public policy (the idea that the state should further the well-being of its citizens) requires that law enforcement act appropriately. Connecticut, like most other states, has ‘implied consent’ laws, which essentially hold that anyone who drives on Connecticut roads consents to chemical testing if arrested for DUI.

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Posted on in Sex Crimes

CT defense lawyerBeing the victim of a sex crime is one of the most devastating events that can happen to a person. However, being accused of a sex crime that you did not commit can be a terrifying process that can essentially ruin lives. If you are in that position, it is absolutely critical to engage an experienced Stamford sex crimes defense attorney who understands the stakes of your situation.

Different Degrees

Sex crimes in Connecticut run the gamut from Class B misdemeanors to Class A felonies, and they can require varying degrees of intent. Generally, the degree charged will be higher the more evidence of force is present. For example, if someone engages in a sexual act with someone who is legally ineligible to consent, but without force, they will likely be charged with sexual assault in the fourth degree, but if they engage in sex while using force, they will be charged with third-degree assault, or possibly rape, which is sexual assault in the first degree.

Other crimes that are classified as sex crimes include prostitution, pandering, any kind of obscenity with a minor such as child pornography, and any other crime that can be shown to be sexual in nature. Sentences will vary depending on whether or not any penetrative contact happened, and also if there was any type of aggravating factor, such as a weapon or if the crime was committed against a vulnerable person such as a child or an elderly person.

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CT defense lawyerThere are several different reasons why a driver in Connecticut may have their driver’s license suspended, but it is never easy to get it back on your own. Most of the time, certain requirements must be met before your license can be reinstated, and it is easy to make a mistake or become confused if you try to manage the issue without experienced legal help. You need a dedicated attorney to help ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Many Different Reasons for Suspension

License suspension or revocation is a consequence for conviction of several crimes in Connecticut. Most of the time, it is seen as a consequence serious enough to deter all but the most determined and criminal minds; the average person will be so inconvenienced by having no license that at least, in theory, they will think twice before offending again. Examples of violations or crimes that can result in license suspension include:

  • Four or more speeding convictions within a two-year period
  • Possession of alcohol in a vehicle by a minor
  • Possession of a fake ID
  • Failure to complete car seat classes or other retraining classes where they have been mandated
  • Reckless driving
  • Accumulation of points on your driver’s license
  • Driving under the influence as a minor
  • Vehicular homicide

The requirements to have your license reinstated will differ depending on the reason it was suspended, but it will require jumping through some hoops, so to speak, to get to that point.

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<pCT defense lawyerWhile Connecticut is known for having decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana at a relatively early point in time, many tend to forget that the state’s law on possession of harder drugs is just as severe as that of any other. Drugs like cocaine and heroin are in a different medical classification group than marijuana, and the effect of possession and use on the public good is far worse. If you have been caught with harder drugs than marijuana, you definitely need to contact an experienced attorney to help you.

Possession and Intent to Distribute

Connecticut law recognizes two types of drug possession crimes - simple possession, and possession with intent to distribute. While intent to distribute is a crime carrying a long jail term, simple possession of hard drugs is still seen as a serious offense even if there is no intent to sell visible. This is because hard drugs have been documented to cause not acute harm not only to users, but to those around them as well. This idea of wanting to protect society, in general, is referred to as public policy, and drug offenses are often referred to as public policy crimes.

State law bars possession of any “narcotic, hallucinogenic or other controlled substance,” unless the person can produce a valid prescription for the substance from a doctor. If someone is caught with these drugs, the penalties can be quite severe because of the public policy considerations - for example, possession of heroin, even as a first offense, can lead to a jail term of up to seven years, plus a $50,000 fine. This is true even of simple possession - the rationale is that the state’s interests in ensuring the health and well-being of its citizens (as much as possible) warrants severe consequences for anyone bringing drugs into the community.

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CT defense lawyerIt is very common for someone who has been charged with a misdemeanor to treat the whole episode as somehow not particularly serious or important, especially if they have never had any run-in with the law before. However, it is never a good idea to see criminal charges as inconsequential. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, contacting a criminal defense lawyer is the first step you should take.

Misdemeanors May Not Stay Misdemeanors

Connecticut criminal law has a wide range of misdemeanors, from disorderly conduct to prostitution. Class D misdemeanors are the least serious, usually carrying no more than 30 days in jail and a fine of a few hundred dollars. As the class goes up, so do the fines and the jail terms. Class A misdemeanors like prostitution can carry up to one year in jail, and fines of up to $2,000. No misdemeanor sentence will last more than one year, as Connecticut law immediately classifies all crimes with longer sentences as felonies.

While the sentences for misdemeanors are set down in the law, it is important to keep in mind that depending on the situation, a misdemeanor can be augmented or otherwise charged as more severe. For example, if a firearm or other deadly weapon is used during the commission of the misdemeanor, or if the crime is committed against a vulnerable individual (a disabled, elderly, mentally impaired or blind person), it may turn third-degree assault into second or first-degree.

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CT juvenile defense lawyerManson Youth Institute in Cheshire, Connecticut, is a prison for young offenders who have allegedly committed a crime serious enough to wind up in the state’s adult court system. As of July 2019, there were only 43 young boys confined at Manson. This represents a significant change from the historical numbers - in July 2016, 76 were registered, and the number has been dropping for years. If your child is arrested and charged with a crime, you should be aware that the Connecticut penal system has been undergoing changes in the way young defendants are handled.

A General Downward Trend

In the 2007-2008 fiscal year, approximately 1,491 young people under the age of 18 were confined at Manson. That number decreased by approximately 92 percent over the next decade, with 2018’s final figure being 105. This is a hugely positive trend, but there are multiple reasons for the drop in juvenile inmate numbers that may or may not still apply in your child’s case. There are still many cases in which a prosecutor will determine that Manson or a similar secure environment is the best place for your child.

One significant change that came to pass in the decade between the figures is that Connecticut raised the age of adult criminal responsibility (except in cases of serious violent crime like murder or sexual assault) from 16 to 18. Sixteen-year-olds were added back into the juvenile justice system in 2010, and 17-year olds were added back in 2012. This means that 16 and 17-year olds that commit crimes that do not immediately merit transfer to the adult system are more likely to be charged as juveniles.

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CT defense lawyerIn 2011, Connecticut’s then-governor signed legislation decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana, reducing the sentence from incarceration to a fine, between $150-$500 per offense. However, too many people hear this and assume that this means no consequences for possession at all. In reality, being charged with possession of any drug is still a serious offense that requires an experienced legal professional to manage.

Infractions vs. Crimes

Decriminalized offenses are still considered infractions, which means that consequences still attach. While these offenses do not carry a penalty of incarceration, they do still carry fines, and can still cause serious problems in the future, since a possession conviction as an adult will generally remain on a person’s criminal record. Also, after your second conviction for this infraction, you can be ordered into a drug treatment program by the court.

It may seem a good idea to simply pay a ticket for possession of marijuana, but in reality, it causes far more trouble than it alleviates in the short-term. Admitting your guilt means that the offense remains on your record, where it can be visible to future employers, loan officers, and others in positions of authority. In most situations, it is best to try and fight the charge, so you can potentially duck that blemish on your record.

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CT DUI attorneyThere is never any excuse for driving while under the influence of alcohol or another substance. However, there is a difference between a person who makes a mistake and a person who constantly acts recklessly, without regard for anyone else. Getting your first DUI in Connecticut can be terrifying, especially if it is an isolated incident rather than the next step in a pattern of behavior. An experienced DUI attorney can help guide you through what can be an intimidating process.

Connecticut Statistics Are Steady

Statistics show that the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Connecticut has risen in recent years, with 38 percent of traffic deaths being alcohol-related in 2016, rising to 43 percent in 2017, even though the overall fatality rate actually dropped. Nationwide, approximately 29 percent of all road deaths were alcohol-related, which is a historic low (at least since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been recording such statistics), so Connecticut’s rate is slightly higher. Connecticut does have a high death rate in such accidents, however, especially among those aged 21-34.

Regardless of age, Connecticut recognizes driving under the influence as a crime and takes even first offenses very seriously. Law enforcement officers can arrest and charge with DUI even if a driver refuses a blood alcohol test, though to refuse the test is highly discouraged (if you refuse a blood alcohol test in the field, your license may be suspended for up to 1 year, even for a first offense). You may wind up in jail for a night or longer, but either way, most first-time offenders find negotiating the process alone almost impossible.

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CT defense lawyerCountless numbers of children are bullied at school every year, which in turn can play a major role in a host of physical and mental health problems. However, most of the time, bullying does not rise to the level of crime. In the situations where it does, your child will need an attorney who understands the complexities of juvenile law, and who knows how best to ensure that their rights are protected.

Bullying Can Be Serious

Statistics indicate that only around 20 percent of middle and high school students reported being bullied, but almost half of all students in another study reported being bullied at least once within the preceding month. As high as 30 percent of middle school students (aged 11-14, roughly) reported being physically bullied, with examples of pushing, hitting, or slapping being given. Approximately 24 percent reported being on the receiving end of sexual comments or gestures.

Bullying can have devastating consequences, primarily for the victim, but also for the bully. Multiple studies show increased risk for ‘poor school adjustment,’ anxiety, depression, sleep issues and focus problems for victims. Many studies also show that the risk of increased suicidal ideation can occur in both the bully and the bullied. Intervention is critical to safeguard both young people, and hopefully to place the bully on a better path. Sometimes, however, this may not occur until a crime has been committed, and in that case, the consequences must be faced.

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CT defense lawyerMost people tend to write off traffic tickets as inconsequential mistakes that can be dealt with at some later time. However, they can add up and cause serious problems for drivers, especially if you rely on your vehicle to get you to work. Calling a Fairfield County traffic ticket attorney can help eliminate the problem smoothly and efficiently.

Do Not Automatically Plead Guilty

In Connecticut, there are moving violations, and then there are what the law calls motor vehicle crimes. The latter is going to be more serious, and these include offenses like speeding, hit-and-run, failure to obey a stop sign or traffic signal, or driving with a suspended license. It is possible for you to plead guilty to these types of offenses, or to fight them with a Stamford traffic ticket lawyer. While some may advise you to just plead guilty and get the matter over and done with, an experienced attorney will usually advise against it. A guilty plea will net you both points on your Connecticut drivers’ license, and points with your insurer, which can cause your rate to go through the proverbial roof.

DMV points in particular - the points on your driver’s license - can wind up being very expensive in the long run. Connecticut law assigns between one and five points for every infraction - for example, failing to signal properly adds one point to your license while following too closely will add three. If you have 10 total points on your license at any point, it will automatically be suspended for 30 days. If you have another situation where you have 10 total points on your license within the next five years, your license will then be suspended for up to two years.

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Posted on in White Collar Crimes

CT defense attorneyAs technology advances, so, unfortunately, does the gamut of crimes that can be committed with it. Cybercrimes are a broad category of offenses that encompasses generally anything involving a third party’s computer, and while many are considered white-collar crimes, some of them can be the first steps toward violence. If you have been charged with a computer crime in Connecticut, you should expect it to be taken very seriously.

The Law Is Broad

Connecticut law governing computer crime is very specific on some counts and very vague on others. The relevant statute lists several broad categories of computer crime, as well as the specific criteria to use when attempting to charge someone with any of these crimes. Despite this, the application of Connecticut’s laws can seem counterintuitive at times, especially when dealing with crimes that involve malice or threat.

For example, someone who commits the crime of cyberstalking or cyberbullying would most likely be charged under Connecticut’s harassment laws, rather than under the specific computer crime laws, even though both the computer and the underlying conduct are key factors in the charge. Computer crimes have specific criteria, and often cyberstalking cases do not rise to that level. Still, it can get confusing to try and discern how you might be prosecuted if you try to handle the issue alone.

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Posted on in Juvenile Crimes

CT defense lawyerWhen a juvenile commits a crime in Connecticut, there are two possible ways the case can be classified. Depending on several factors, including the nature of the offense, a juvenile can either be classified as a juvenile defendant, or as a youthful offender. While these two designations might seem interchangeable, they are not, and it is critical to understand the difference.

Juvenile Defendants

Juvenile defendants are, as one might expect, juveniles - people under the age of 18 who have committed an offense that the prosecutor determines should be prosecuted in juvenile court. They are referred to as juvenile delinquents, rather than defendants; Connecticut’s juvenile courts are much more focused on rehabilitation, especially for first offenders, as opposed to the adult court system that is focused more on punishment. The nature of the offense usually determines whether someone under 18 will be charged as a juvenile or as an adult.

Juvenile defendants are also more likely to be granted a non-judicial outcome in their case, meaning probation or pretrial diversion as opposed to a conviction and sentence. This may seem not harsh enough, for a young person who has allegedly committed a crime, but nonjudicial outcomes are not generally available for those who commit serious offenses. With nonviolent misdemeanors and violations, the state of Connecticut has decided to help young offenders learn rather than punish immediately.

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CT defense lawyerThere are many different degrees of criminal assault, each with its own set of criteria that must be proven at trial. However, this can be quite confusing for someone who has been charged with assault, because you may not be aware of what the prosecution has to prove and what it does not. Having a good understanding of the case against you is an important way that you can keep a realistic picture of your chances in court.

Assault Charges Are Very Specific

Connecticut recognizes numerous specific degrees of assault charges, understanding that arguments and fights that get out of hand are quite different from an intentional and malicious attack. Intent is a major factor in determining what degree to charge someone with, but it is not the only factor - others include whether or not a weapon was used, the level of harm caused, and the identity of the victim (penalties will be stiffer, for example, if the victim is an elderly or disabled person).

It is important to keep in mind that factors about each defendant do not tend to affect the choice of charge; rather, if someone is convicted, it will be taken into account for sentencing purposes. Obviously, your aim is to avoid conviction and sentencing in the first place, but it is still a good idea to be aware of what the factors are that go into charges. The charge will reflect the overall event: if you caused minor injury to someone with your hands versus, say, attacking them with a knife or firearm.

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CT defense lawyerNormally, when someone is arrested and charged with a criminal offense, the only way to end that process is either with an acquittal, a conviction, or a plea-bargain. There is another way that your trial can end, though you do not necessarily get to choose it. It is called taking a “nolle prosequi” or “nolle prosse,” and it will not necessarily be offered to you, so if it is, you need to understand exactly what is being offered before consenting.

Not a Dismissal

A nolle prosequi or nolle prosse, sometimes shortened to just a “nolle,” is a legal term that means “unwilling to prosecute” in Latin. It essentially serves as an implicit admission that the charges against a person cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt because if they could, the prosecutor would want to move forward with the case in all but the rarest situations. In most cases, a nolle prosse will result in the charged person being given probation or otherwise ordered to refrain from any kind of lawbreaking for a certain period of time.

Many are under the misapprehension that a nolle is the same as a dismissal, and in reality, there are very important distinctions. A dismissal means that the charges were dropped with no strings attached, and no further required interaction with the court or police. A nolle, at least in Connecticut, means that your arrest records will not be erased until 13 months have passed without you running afoul of the law. The law actually gives the prosecutor the right to reopen the case and re-prosecute at their sole discretion - in other words, you are still on the proverbial hook until 13 months have passed. (Reopening is rare, but not unheard of.)

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Posted on in Juvenile Crimes

CT defense lawyerToo many people see petty crime or mischief offenses as part of growing up, especially for young boys and men. However, it is still important not to overlook the potential consequences of committing a crime, and in some cases, the crime may be serious enough to be removed to adult court, with all the attendant consequences. Having an experienced juvenile justice attorney on your side can help smooth out the process while still preserving your child’s rights.

Juvenile Court: More Rehabilitative Than Punitive

In juvenile court, there are two broad categories of offenses that a young person may be charged with: delinquent acts, or serious juvenile offenses. Delinquent acts are defined as the violation of a federal or state law (with exceptions) by a juvenile. Essentially, if the act in question is not defined as a serious juvenile offense, it will generally qualify as a delinquent act. Serious juvenile offenses, by comparison, are specifically laid out in the relevant statute, and if the prosecutor thinks it necessary, allow your child’s case to be removed to adult court.

In most cases where a juvenile is arrested, Connecticut’s justice system has the stated aim of trying to rehabilitate them, rather than solely punish them for their choices. Their young age and (in most cases) lack of life experience are seen as mitigating factors, to some degree, and especially in cases of non-violent crime, many juvenile offenders are offered alternative options to a jail sentence, such as diversion programs or community service.

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