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CT defense lawyerIn this country, a person is innocent of a crime until they are proven guilty, and they are entitled to a chance to defend themselves from charges. Defendants have rights, and if you have been charged with a crime, you need a Connecticut criminal defense attorney who will fight to protect yours.

Even Innocent People May Need Attorneys

In today’s United States, the criminal justice system can be an intimidating place, especially if you are innocent of the crime you have been charged with. While it is rare to find yourself faced with outright malice from police or prosecutors, it is sadly not uncommon to find an error on their part, which can sometimes put an innocent person in the proverbial crosshairs. Extreme examples have put innocent people behind bars - though none have occurred in Connecticut, there have been hundreds of exonerations of innocent people wrongfully convicted in 37 states since the 1970s.

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Posted on in Hate Crimes

hate crime, holiday increase, stamford criminal defense attorneyThe incidents of several different types of crime rises during the holiday season, likely due to increased stress levels, demands for money, and pervasive societal stress and expectations. Sadly, hate crimes are no exception to these trends. The rate of hate crimes spikes during the holidays both likely due to the aforementioned social quandaries, but also because of the holidays themselves—hate crimes against the Jewish community especially seem to spike during the holiday season, and this even more-so on the East Coast, where cities are comprised of large percentages of citizens who identify with the Jewish faith. In 2015, as terrorist attacks continue to infiltrate the fabric of everyday Western life, the rate of hate crimes against Muslims will likely keep pace as well.

More Than Faith-Based

Regardless, the highest rate of hate crime incident continues to be racially-motivated, at 47 percent nationwide. Hate crimes motivated by religious identification or sexual orientation are tied at second, each accounting for nearly 19 percent of all reported incidents of hate crimes. In Connecticut, a hate crime does not have to be defined as an act of physical violence or physical action. A hate crime can also be defined as a crime of intimidation, which includes criminal harassment or being threatened. A person can be charged with criminal harassment if the alleged victim can prove that he or she was being repeatedly followed, that the person repeatedly called the person’s place of work or home (either directly or through contacting a mutual acquaintance), or if a person receives threatening letters or emails.

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Posted on in Assault and Battery

police, assault of an officer, Stamford criminal defense attorneyIn the wake of several headline-making events this year involving police brutality and allegations of systemic issues of bias by police departments, the issue of assaults perpetrated against police have somewhat taken a backseat in media coverage. This does not mean that they are not still happening, or that the issue is not a major one for most police departments across the country. In 2014, more than 48,000 police officers nationwide were assaulted, and of these more than 28 percent sustained injuries. This is a rate of officer assaults of nine per 100 sworn police officers.

Dangerous Interactions

The majority of assaults against police are perpetrated when a person is out of control, either on drugs or drunk or angry. This can happen in a heated emotional or tense situation when the police are called to handle someone who is posing a danger to himself or people around him. When the situation escalates to violence, police officers are sometimes caught in the middle and assaulted, either accidentally or on purpose. Whether the assault against an officer was intended or not does not matter in the eyes of the law.

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shaken baby syndrome, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyA case that Stamford police are calling one of the most grim they can remember has ended with a manslaughter plea, according to the Stamford Advocate. A man arrested for the homicide and sexual assault of an infant pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and risk of injury to a child, and is scheduled to be sentenced to 14 years in prison with six years of parole. The baby was a victim of shaken baby syndrome, in which brain damage, retinal damage, and bone fractures can be caused by violent shaking, especially when an infant’s head is whipped back and forth or from side to side.

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a diagnosis that first made national news in 1997, when a British au pair was tried for the murder of a Massachusetts infant. As far back as that, a determined group of skeptics started research, unwilling to believe that a human was truly capable of shaking a baby to death.

They looked to establish, that for an infant to die, he or she would also have had to be injured by a blow to the head. An SBS diagnosis does not require an outward manifestation of injury, making it an easy charge to prove. Additionally, researchers have found, in the intervening years, that other causes can produce the same symptoms of SBS, meaning that at least some percentage of people convicted for SBS could be going to jail for a murder that did not actually occur.

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

university, campus crime, Connecticut Criminal Defense AttorneyA lot has been in the news lately about crimes on college campuses, especially those dealing with sexual assault and rape. The recent Rolling Stone article about rape on the University of Virginia campus—that was later shown to be in large part manufactured and incorrectly reported by Rolling Stone—may serve to belie just how serious and honest the vast majority of these crimes are.

According to the Washington Post, the number of victims who come forward to report sexual assault or forcible sexual offenses on college campuses have continued to increase in recent years. This could be in part due to the encouragement of university officials that students come forward to report such incidences, rather than to sweep them under the rug. In 2012, it was reported that Penn State University had the nation’s highest number of reports of forcible sex offenses on campus at a staggering 56 incidents in one school year.

Despite stories of these widely publicized criminal incidents, sexual assault is not the most common crime experienced or perpetrated on university campuses. Instead, the most commonly reported criminal offense on college campuses in recent years was burglary. In 2011, there were 6,712 burglaries reported on college campuses. It should be kept in mind that these statistics are only for incidents that actually occurred on the campus. As such, they do not include incidents experienced by college students off campus in a nearby apartment complex or the like.

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marijuana, decriminalization, Connecticut Criminal Defense LawyerAttitudes across the country are changing when it comes to marijuana and the punishment for marijuana possession, and Connecticut is no exception. According to Connecticut law, the state currently carries fines and criminal penalties for certain levels of possession. Possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana carries a $150 fine for the first offense. Penalties become increasingly harsh with frequency of offense: a second offense can carry up to a $500 penalty. Third-time offenders will have to attend drug education classes, which will be paid for by their own means. The more substance, the higher the penalty as well: if a person has more than a half-ounce but less than 4 ounces of cannabis he or she can face up to a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison, or both. These penalties were enacted in 2011, making possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil violation instead of a criminal offense, as it had been in previous years.

Even still, in light of legalization in Washington and Colorado and decriminalization of marijuana in many other states, these punishments can seem unduly tough. This is perhaps one reason attitudes in Connecticut are changing toward the necessity of strict penalties for marijuana possession and recreational use.

In recent months, the Connecticut state legislature seems ready to discuss further decriminalization and even possible legalization. Representative Edwin Vargas and Representative Juan Candelaria have both introduced house bills that would replace prohibition of marijuana with restrictive legalization for adult use. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, a recent study out of Quinnipiac University found that the majority of Connecticut voters support legalization of marijuana for adults: 52 percent of all voters supported such a measure, as did 80 percent of voters under the age of 30.

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texting while driving Connecticut, Stamford defense attorneyIt is well known that texting while driving can be as dangerous as drinking and driving, yet today it is a common traffic violation. A Virginia company is developing a new technology that would give the police a device to use to identify when a driver is texting behind the wheel.

In Connecticut, typing, reading, or sending texts while operating a vehicle is prohibited by law. This prohibition applies even if the vehicle is temporarily stopped at a stop sign or light or is stopped due to road conditions or traffic. The fines are $125 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $400 for a third or subsequent offense.

The device can detect the specific radio frequencies that are used when someone is using a cell phone to send text messages. It can distinguish between the frequencies used to send text messages, make phone calls, and transfer data. However, the developer of the technology would have to address certain issues such as determining who was doing the texting when more than one person is in a car.

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college sexual assault in Connecticut, Stamford criminal defense attorneySexual assault on college campuses occurs at an alarming rate across the nation. According to an online article published by The Washington Post, nearly 4,000 reports of forcible sex offenses were reported on college campuses in 2012, an increase of 50 percent over three years.

Due to this significant spike, the issue has become spotlighted as a national concern. The White House recently launched the “It’s On Us” campaign against sexual assault on college campuses. According to White House reports, an estimated one in every five women is sexually assaulted while in college with only 13 percent of rape survivors reporting their assault.

Federal law requires every college and university across the country to produce an annual campus safety report documenting crime at its school. For the state of Connecticut, Yale University, Connecticut College, and the University of Connecticut are the top three schools reporting the most forcible sexual assaults in 2012.

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legal term meanings, Stamford criminal defense lawyerThe terminology used in the criminal justice system can be confusing, especially if you have been charged with a crime and need to understand exactly what the charges are. Here are some of the basic terms and their definitions under the law.

Felony

A felony is defined by Connecticut law as an offense for which someone may be imprisoned for over one year. Felonies are generally classified as A, B, C, or D, depending on the length of sentence, with Class A being the most serious offenses with the longest sentences. Felonies include murder, sexual assault, and certain robbery and larceny charges.

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driving under the influenceSome cars can park themselves, brake automatically, and keep the car from drifting across lanes on the highway. In addition to all the advances in automotive technology that have taken place over the last several years, it may be just a matter of time until a device in your car can tell if the driver is too drunk to safely operate the car.

In an effort to reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is working with suppliers on the development of the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). The system would automatically determine the driver’s blood alcohol content by either touch or breath. Ideally, the system would be passive, gathering the needed data without requiring the driver to blow into a breathalyzer. It is even possible that the system could then prevent the driver from operating the car if the driver’s blood alcohol level is above the legal limit.

If such a device or system can be implemented, it is possible that the NHTSA could require the technology to be implemented in all vehicles. However, the first step towards this technology would be to build a research vehicle while ironing out some of the challenges involved, including where to place the touch sensors and how to distinguish between the driver’s breath and that of passengers. The system would have to be very accurate, unobtrusive, and convenient to be suitable for widespread use.

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juvenile crime, juvenile delinquent, adult criminal, criminal justice system, Stamford criminal defense lawyerAs a parent, finding out that your child has been arrested can be extremely stressful. If this happens in your family it is important to understand the juvenile judicial process.

In Connecticut, a juvenile is considered delinquent if he or she is under the age of 18 when breaking, or attempting to break, the law. The law can be a state, federal, county, or municipal law. In many cases, the same statutes apply to both adults and juveniles. However, the procedure by which adult and juvenile cases are handled is often different.

The first point of contact in most cases is with a police officer. Depending on the alleged offense, the officer has the discretion to decide how he or she will handle the minor child. The officer can decide to:

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Stamford DUI, DUI lawyer, Connecticut DUI defense lawyer, DUI defense attorneyIf you are pulled over and accused of DUI in Connecticut, you should know the state’s implied consent law. The law mandates that you consent to a urine, blood, or breath test if you have been arrested for a DUI. If the officer arresting you has probable cause, then you give your consent to having this test done.

The officer chooses which test is to be done, but it must be given within two hours of when you were actually driving a vehicle. Without penalty, you can refuse the blood test if you wish, meaning that the officer can choose from one of the remaining test. The officer must also inform you of your constitutional rights when you are arrested and explain that your license may be suspended if you refuse to take a test.

If you refuse to take the test, that information can be used against you in court. An officer doesn’t have the responsibility to explain that you can contact your attorney prior to taking a test, which you might want to consider doing so that you are aware of all your rights at that time.

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ignition interlock, DUI, Connecticut criminal law, Connecticut criminal defense lawyer, DUI defense attorneyThere are serious repercussions for those convicted of a DUI in Connecticut. Fines may include prison terms, fines, and license suspensions. Under state law, offenders aged 21 or older will have a minimum license suspension of 45 days. If you have been charged with driving under the influence, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible.

First time offenders may be eligible to drive after their suspension period ends, but only with an ignition interlock-equipped vehicle. First time offenders will drive with an ignition interlock device for a period of one year, and second time offenders will drive with an ignition interlock device for three years. Second time offenders are only allowed to drive to school, work, an alcohol or drug treatment program, or the ignition interlock service center in the first year of the interlock period.

If you have been convicted of a DUI for the third time, the DMV is required to revoke your license. A driver might be eligible to get his or her license restored after a period of a few years, but this agreement requires compliance with lifelong interlock device driving.

One of the most important parts of your case is determining that evidence is admissible. The standard of evidence in these cases depends on whether or not the driver was injured. A driver must have been given a reasonable opportunity to contact an attorney before taking the blood alcohol test. The test results must have been mailed or personally delivered to the driver by the next business day, and the test must have been administered by a police officer or under a police officer’s discretion. Test types can include blood, breath, or urine, and the test equipment must be accurate. If you have been charged with a DUI, contact a Connecticut criminal defense attorney to ensure that your rights are represented.

bullying, criminal law, Connecticut bullying law, cyber bullying Connecticut lawyerThe national media focus on bullying in schools has led to legislation across the country, and the same holds true in Connecticut, where a law was signed in 2011. If your child has been charged with a crime related to bullying, you need to contact an attorney immediately.

In Connecticut, 25 percent of high school students report being bullied on school property. Across America, more than 900,000 students report being bullied online. In Connecticut, there are specific rules about how a school has to handle a bullying investigation. School staff must have streamlined procedures for bullying reporting and it must be investigated when any claim is made.

Since more and more schools are adopting zero-tolerance policies on any allegation of bullying, children that are accused may face immediate school-related consequences in addition to criminal charges. A bullying accusation can continue to follow a child for years.

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marijuana possession, smoking a joint, Stamford criminal lawyer, Connecticut drug possession lawWhether you already have a criminal record or whether a marijuana drug possession charge is your first offense, you should take your case seriously and hire a criminal attorney. In Connecticut, there are several different types of charges you might be facing if you are caught with marijuana. The only individuals approved for marijuana use in Connecticut are those who carry a medical marijuana certificate.

If you are arrested with less than 4 ounces of marijuana, you could be facing a fine of $1,000 and you could even be sentenced to up to a year in jail. Any case involving higher quantities of marijuana can have more severe consequences.

Even young adults can face penalties if caught with marijuana: for possession of less than 5 ounces or possession of drug paraphernalia related to less than 5 ounces of marijuana, a juvenile 16 years old or younger will have their license suspended for at least 60 days, or in the case they don't yet have a license, receiving it can be delayed up to 150 days. Youth aged 17-21 will face fines and driver’s license suspension as well. Juveniles may also need to attend drug counseling and complete a certain number of community service hours.

Some people are under the impression that a marijuana drug charge isn’t a big deal beyond the fine or handful of days in jail. Being convicted, however, can be problematic in the future if you apply for a job. Certain employers have a zero tolerance policy for hiring someone with drug charges in their past, and a simple review of your background check will reveal the truth. In addition, your insurance premiums for your car and homeowner’s policy can increase once the insurance company is aware of your conviction. There are far-reaching consequences to being charged with marijuana possession, and even one charge could have implications well into your future. If you have been charged with marijuana or paraphernalia possession, you should contact an experienced Connecticut drug possession attorney to manage your case. You need someone fighting for you and your future.

Posted on in Sex Crimes

sextingHenry Moy, 23, of Norwalk was charged in late January by Stamford police with “risk of injury to a child, use of computer to entice a child and employing a minor in an obscene performance,” according to New Canaan News Online. Moy allegedly enticed a young girl to “take lewd photos of herself and send them to him,” police told New Canaan News, while he was working part time as a lifeguard in a New Canaan YMCA. Moy also works as a trainer at a Stamford gym. He was “released after posting a $100,000 court appearance bond.” He is expected to appear in court later in February in connection with the allegations.

Lt. Dedrich Hohn told the New Canaan News that the girl’s father made the initial complaint to police, after finding his daughter’s cellphone “and saw sexually charged texts and videos that she allegedly sent to her gym coach.” Lt. Hohn said that the ones her father found were only a fraction of the hundreds of texts the girl had sent to Moy. Moy was called into the station on a ruse and police subsequently confiscated his cellphone. “If police find any of those pictures,” New Canaan News reports, “Moy can be additionally charged with possession of child pornography.” The detective said that in the texts it is readily apparent that Moy was encouraging the young girl to send him the explicit photos and videos.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in 2012 “at least 13 states introduced bills or resolutions aimed at sexting.”  The Connecticut State Police report that one in five teens admit to either having sent or received a “sext” message. “Sexting may result in several felony charges if you are sending images of children under the age of 16,” the Connecticut State Police Department reports.

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marijuana, drug possession, drug charges, criminal charges, Stamford drug charges, criminal defense lawyerWhether you already have a criminal record, or a marijuana drug possession charge is your first offense, you should take your case seriously and hire a criminal attorney. In Connecticut, there are several different types of charges you might be facing if you are caught with marijuana and you are not protected under Connecticut medical marijuana laws.

If you are arrested with less than 4 ounces of marijuana, you could be facing a fine of $1,000 and, you could be sentenced to up to a year in jail. Any case involving higher quantities of marijuana can have more severe consequences.

Even young adults can face penalties if caught with marijuana: for possession of less than 5 ounces or possession of drug paraphernalia related to less than 5 ounces of marijuana, a juvenile under the age of 16 will have their license suspended for at least 60 days. Youth aged 17-21 will face fines and driver’s license suspension as well. Juveniles may also need to attend drug counseling and complete a certain number of community service hours.

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domestic violence, domestic abuse, domestic assault, criminal charges, lawyer, attorney, ConnecticutJudges take allegations of domestic violence very seriously, and an incident where tempers rose quickly could have big implications for your future. If you have been accused of domestic violence, stalking, threatening, felony assault, or third degree assault, you need to retain a Connecticut criminal attorney as soon as possible.

Connecticut law regarding domestic violence defines that it is illegal for an individual to threaten, stalk, or physically assault you, even in circumstances where that individual is a family member, living in your household, or a person that you have dated. Family or household members can include parents or their children, a spouse or former spouse, individuals who have a child in common, and other individuals who are related by blood or marriage.

Punishments vary depending on what you are charged with, but assault charges are classified in degrees.

  •  First degree assault charges can result in a Class B felony;
  • Second degree assault charges can result in a Class D felony;
  • Third degree assault charges can result in a Class A misdemeanor;
  • Assault of a pregnant woman that results in pregnancy termination can result in a Class A felony.
The consequences of being convicted include jail time and fines. In some cases, the other party might seek a standing criminal protective order, too. The court has the authority to issue a standing criminal protective order after reviewing the nature of the circumstances and the criminal history of the accused. A protective order could bar you from staying in the home, seeing children, or getting within close range of schools, churches, or other locations where the involved family members may be. With just one case, the course of your life can be changed forever. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that a first time domestic violence charge is a minor incident. Contact a Connecticut criminal lawyer today.

aggravated assault charges IMAGEA man was charged in early January after allegedly stabbing two people at Hugo’s Mexican Bar and Restaurant in Stamford, according to Newsday and the Associated Press. “Oscar Saenz-Machado of Stamford was arraigned in Stamford Superior Court… and ordered held on $100,000 bail,” Newsday reports. Saenz-Machado “grabbed a knife from behind the bar, stabbed a 32-year old restaurant patron in the back and slashed a 33-year-old employee in the stomach,” according to Newsday. The altercation allegedly began when the restaurant patron refused to buy Saenz-Machado a drink when he asked him to.

Saenz-Machado pled not guilty to the first-degree assault and weapons charges he is facing, and both victims in the incident are expected to survive.  As of early January, it was unclear whether the perpetrator had a lawyer or not, and his court case was expected to continue later in the month, according to Newsday.

According to a Connecticut State publication, while violent crime, such as stabbings, have continued to steadily decline in the U.S. as a whole, the decline has not been as dramatic or as consistent in Connecticut. Between 2011 and 2012, in fact, there was a 3 percent increase in the number of violent crimes perpetrated in Connecticut. Aggravated assault made up 53.2 percent of all violent crime offense in 2012. There were 1,174 aggravated assaults committed with a knife, such as the one Saenz-Machado allegedly used. This type of weapon accounts for approximately 22 percent of all aggravated assault committed in Connecticut in 2012.

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