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Fairfield criminal defense attorneyTaking something from a store without paying for it is a crime. However, shoplifting is shockingly common. Some studies report that as many as one in 11 people have stolen merchandise from a retail store at least once in their lives. Many people think that shoplifting cannot result in severe criminal penalties. They assume that the act will only get them a slap on the wrist. In reality, shoplifting can lead to considerable consequences, including jail time.

Is Shoplifting a Misdemeanor or Felony in Connecticut?

In Connecticut, shoplifting is one of several offenses categorized as larceny, meaning the wrongful appropriation of property with the intent to deprive the owner of it. The severity of a larceny charge is determined by the value of the goods allegedly stolen. According to Connecticut law:

  • Theft of goods valued at $500 or less is a Class C misdemeanor, with penalties of up to three months in jail and a $500 fine.

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Fairfield CT sex crime defense attorneyMost experts agree that a person’s brain is not fully developed until about age 25. Because children’s brains are still developing and they have not had the life experience needed to make informed choices about sex, children cannot consent to sexual activities by law. However, the “age of consent,” or age at which a person is considered old enough to consent to sex, varies from state to state. The relationship between the child and the person with whom they have a sexual relationship also affects the legality of the relationship. If you or a loved one has been accused of having sexual relations with someone under the age of consent, you may be arrested and charged with a sex crime.

Sexual Activity With Someone Under the Age of Consent

The age of consent in Connecticut is 16. This means that anyone aged 15 or below is unable to consent to sex in the eyes of the law. Any sexual activity between an adult and someone under 16 may lead to criminal charges and potential jail time. However, there are exceptions to this law. If a child is over age 13 and he or she has a sexual relationship with someone less than four years older than him or her, this may not be considered a crime. For example, a 17-year-old who has a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old is not breaking the law unless there are other unlawful factors such as the use of force. This so-called “Romeo and Juliet” exception exists to protect teenagers from criminal prosecution for having consensual sexual relationships with other teenagers. There are also situations in which having sexual relations with someone over the age of consent may be in violation of Connecticut law. For example, if a person over age 20 in a position of authority such as a coach or teacher has sex with someone under 18, he or she may be charged with statutory rape.

Statutory Rape Laws in Connecticut

Sexual activity between a child under age 13 and a person three or more years older than the child is considered first-degree sexual assault in Connecticut. This Class A felony offense is punishable by fines up to $20,000 and up to 25 years in prison. Sex between a child aged 13 to 15 and someone at least four years older than the child is considered second-degree sexual assault. This is a Class B felony punishable by a maximum fine of $15,000 and up to 20 years’ imprisonment. Non-penetrative sexual activity between a child under 13 and someone more than two years older than the child is a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines. In addition to fines, imprisonment, and other criminal consequences, individuals convicted of sex crimes against children will also need to register as sex offenders.

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Connecticut pretrial diversion program defense attorneyIf you or a loved one was arrested and charged with a criminal offense, you may be unsure of what will happen next. Will you or your loved one be sentenced to jail? Will a conviction prevent you or your loved one from working, going to school, or finding suitable housing? Fortunately, many criminal defendants qualify for a pretrial diversion program. These programs can help a defendant avoid jail time and a permanent criminal record.

Focusing on Rehabilitation, Not Punishment

Connecticut courts recognize that many individuals charged and convicted of crimes are good people who made a mistake. If you were charged with a criminal offense but the offense was not a particularly violent crime or a sex crime, you may be able to participate in a program designed to “rehabilitate” you and prevent you from reoffending. Often, these programs involve mental health treatment, substance abuse counseling, educational classes, vocational training, community service, drug testing, and meeting with a probation officer. If you are able to participate in and complete a diversion program, your criminal record may be expunged.

Diversion Programs Available in Connecticut

There are many different types of pretrial diversion programs in Connecticut, including:

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Norwalk CT criminal defense lawyerIf you or a loved one is facing criminal charges for theft, DUI, drug possession, assault, or any other offense, you may be lost and unsure of what to do. A criminal defense lawyer can provide the legal support and guidance you need during this confusing and overwhelming experience. Regardless of the type or severity of the crime you have been accused of, you have a constitutional right to legal assistance and representation from an attorney. If you are like many people, you may understand your right to an attorney, but do not know exactly how a criminal defense lawyer can help you. Read on to learn about the many ways in which a lawyer can assist you during a criminal proceeding.

Ways A Connecticut Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives criminal defendants the right to legal counsel. There are many ways that a lawyer can help you if you have been accused of a crime, including:

  • Explaining your charges and how to fight these charges. Connecticut law is complex. You may not know exactly what it is you have even been accused of, let alone how to fight these criminal charges. Your attorney can help you understand the charges you are facing and help you formulate a strategy for defending yourself against the accusations.
  • Ensuring your rights are protected. Criminal defendants have certain rights by law. You have the right to be informed of your charges, to avoid self-incrimination, to argue against accusers and witnesses, and more. A lawyer can help you understand your rights as a criminal defendant and ensure that these rights are not violated.
  • Investigating your case and finding weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you. The prosecution must prove certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction. Your lawyer can investigate the case and find any inconsistencies, flaws, or weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you and use these weaknesses to your advantage.
  • Representing you during the trial. During your trial, your lawyer can examine witnesses that attest to your innocence, cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses, and present arguments and evidence to the court.
  • Advocating for you during sentencing. If you are convicted by the court or choose to accept a plea bargain, your lawyer can help during your sentencing. He or she can argue on your behalf for alternatives to incarceration or a reduced sentence.

Contact a Norwalk Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with a crime, contact Connecticut criminal defense attorney Daniel P. Weiner for help building a strong defense. Do not allow police to interrogate you without your attorney present. Call The Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner today at 203-348-5846 for a free, confidential consultation.

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Norwalk CT DUI defense attorneyIt is against the law in Connecticut to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or more, and doing so can result in criminal charges of driving under the influence (DUI). First-time DUI offenders in Connecticut may be penalized by up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines, along with the suspension of their driver’s license and the required installation of an ignition interlock device if they wish to regain driving privileges. If you have already been convicted of DUI within the past ten years and you have been charged with drunk driving for the second time, you may face even harsher penalties.

Penalties for a Second DUI Offense in Connecticut

Connecticut takes DUI offenses very seriously, and a second DUI conviction within ten years is punished differently from a first-time DUI. If you are convicted of a second DUI, you face jail time of up to two years, and unlike a first-time DUI, a second DUI results in a mandatory jail sentence of 120 days. It is possible that a second-time DUI offender may be released from jail before the 120 days are up, but some duration of jail time is likely. You will also be required to perform 100 hours of community service. The administrative penalties for a second DUI conviction include a driver’s license suspension of three years. After 45 days, you may be eligible to regain your driving privileges if you install an ignition interlock device.

How Can I Fight a Second DUI?

The consequences of a second DUI conviction in Connecticut are severe. If you or a loved one has been arrested for drunk driving and you have previously been convicted of DUI, contact an experienced DUI defense lawyer right away. Remember, you have a constitutional right to remain silent and decline police questioning until your lawyer is present. Your attorney can help you develop a strong defense against your charges, and if you end up being convicted of DUI, your lawyer can help you take steps to reduce the penalties as much as possible.

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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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online solicitation, Connecticut criminal defense lawyerMany crime shows today revolve around the theme of internet predators. With the popularity of social media, the reality of online solicitation of minors is growing as children and young adults frequently use the Internet and social media in their everyday lives, raising concerns about the potential for sexual predator crimes.

In the state of Connecticut, online solicitation of a minor is defined as using a computer service that is interactive to coerce a person less than 16 years of age. If you know that the person you are talking to is under 16, and you attempt to entice them into prostitution or sexual acts, you can be charged with a criminal offense.

Solicitation of a minor is a class D felony in the state of Connecticut. A first offense through a computer network (online solicitation) is a class C felony, and the second offense through a computer network is a class B felony.

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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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assault convictions in Connecticut, Stamford criminal lawyerIf you have been charged with the crime of assault in Connecticut, the type of charge will determine the potential penalties you will face. Connecticut law delineates three distinct levels of assault, each of which carries separate penalties.

First degree assault is the most severe level you can be charged with. Assault in the first degree is a Class B felony in Connecticut, carrying penalties of up to 20 years in prison—with a mandatory prison of at least five years—and up to $15,000 in fines if convicted. First degree assault is defined as:

  • Causing serious physical injury with a deadly weapon or other dangerous item, with the intent to cause serious injury.
  • Causing serious permanent disfigurement or destroying or amputating a body part, with the intent to do so.
  • Causing serious physical injury by recklessly engaging in conduct that demonstrates extreme indifference to human life.
  • Causing serious physical injury with two or more other people, with intent to do so.
  • Causing physical injury with a firearm, with intent to do so.

Second degree assault is a Class D felony, with a prison sentence of one to five years and up to $5,000 in fines. If a firearm is used or the person threatens to use a firearm, a sentence of at least one year in prison is required. Second degree assault is defined as:

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Connecticut juvenile offenders, criminal defense lawyer in StamfordAccording to a national report, Connecticut is among several states that are trendsetters in matters pertaining to juvenile justice. The report is based on changes to state law that have been enacted during the last decade. This is good news for juvenile offenders who face many risks entering the Connecticut juvenile justice system.

Connecticut, along with Illinois and Mississippi, have increased the age of jurisdiction of juvenile courts to treat older youths as juveniles rather than as adults for purposes of criminal prosecution. As of 2011, 17-year-olds are considered to be juveniles for purposes of criminal law. Before the change, 16- and 17-year-olds were considered to be adults.

Connecticut is also one of ten states that have amended their laws to make it more difficult to transfer juveniles from juvenile court to adult court. The other states are Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. Transferring youths to the adult court system is a way for states to treat young offenders as adults for purposes of criminal law.

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

Probation RulesIn Connecticut, if you are convicted of a crime or a motor vehicle offense, a judge can sentence you to probation as part of your sentence. The probation can begin immediately after you are sentenced, or, if incarceration is part of your sentence, probation will begin immediately after your release. The length of time you will be on probation is up to the judge’s discretion, based on the crime you were convicted of.

Once your probation begins, you will be assigned a probation officer. If you are beginning your probation upon release from prison, you should contact your probation officer immediately. The officer will assign you a day and time you are required to report to him or her. It is imperative to report as you have been told. Failure to do so could result in the officer issuing a violation and having your case returned to court, where you could possibly be sent back to prison.

When you report, bring a photo ID with you, proof of residence, such as a lease or utility bill, pay stubs from your employer, proof of any treatment, restitution or any other requirements you are required to fulfill.

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Connecticut juvenile crimeAccording to the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management, arrests of juveniles—those under 18 years of age at the time of the incident—comprised 10 percent of all arrests in Connecticut in 2012. That is almost 12,000 arrests of juveniles.  In Connecticut, a person is considered a juvenile if he or she was under the age of 18 at the time of the incident, and is referred to the Juvenile Matters Court. Of those juveniles arrested in 2012:

  • 3,427 were 17 years old;
  • 2,694 were 16 years old;
  • 2,308 were 15 years old;
  • 2,618 were 13-14 years old;
  • 713 were 10-12 years old; and
  • 64 were under 10 years old.

The most common charges for which juveniles were arrested in 2012 are as follows:

  • Simple assault: 27 percent. Simple assaults are those that do not result in serious injury and do not qualify as aggravated assault.
  • Disorderly conduct: 17 percent. Disorderly conduct disturbs the peace or shocks the community or sense of morality.
  • Larceny: 15 percent. Larceny is theft, the unlawful taking of someone else’s property.
  • Drug abuse violations: seven percent. These violations include unlawful possession, sale, use, and growing or making drugs.
  • Vandalism: four percent. Vandalism is defined as willful or malicious destruction or defacing of property without the owner’s consent.
  • Burglary: four percent. Burglary is unlawfully entering a building to commit a theft.
  • Aggravated assault: three percent. Aggravated assault is more serious than simple assault and is done to inflict severe bodily harm upon another person, often with a weapon.
  • Robbery: two percent. Robbery is taking or attempting to take something from another person using force or the threat of force, or by causing fear.

These figures represent the most serious charge for the arrest, and do not include charges that account for fewer than two percent of juvenile arrests.

If your child was arrested as a juvenile, you need the guidance of an experienced Connecticut criminal law attorney to help your family through this difficult time.

Posted on in Criminal Defense

opioid, drug crimes, possession, Connecticut criminal lawyer, criminal defense attorney in StamfordIndeed heroin, as well as many other illicit substances, have been presenting a challenge to law enforcement officials--as well as the victims of addiction--for longer than the “War on Drugs” has existed. Drug abuse can cause a whole host of problems extending to every facet of life--in addition to hiring a criminal defense attorney and dealing with court, the emotional and psychological toll an addiction can cause on yourself and loved ones  is catastrophic, especially if the end result is a fatal overdose.

The drug overdose statistics in Connecticut certainly seems to be illustrating this as more and more the reality for an increasing number of people. A study beginning January 2nd of this year 2014 and concluding on June 17th found a total of 151 opioid related overdose cases, which is more than half of all cases seen in all of last year.

Opioids are powerful narcotics that are highly addictive and highly dangerous. Heroin is perhaps the most well known of this class of substances, but they also include commonly seen medications for pain-- including, but not limited to:

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Generally, if a person is arrested, the police can search the person’s body and immediate surroundings without first getting a warrant. But according to The Hartford Courant, the U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that police officers may not search an arrested person’s cell phone without first obtaining a warrant. The difference, the Court said, is that modern cell phones contain such a vast amount of data that they deserve greater protection than other items such as wallets, purses, and address books. The Court noted that there are exceptions for some emergency situations when a warrantless cell phone search is permitted.

The Court’s ruling recognizes the fact that 90 percent of Americans have cell phones, which have become a part of the fabric of daily life. Today’s cell phones contain a digital record of just about every aspect of our lives. Having a cell phone means having a camera, video player, Rolodex, calendar, tape recorder, library, diary, album, television, map, and newspaper all rolled up into one.

The cases—one from Massachusetts and one from California—arose when police officers searched the phones of arrested suspects without first obtaining a warrant. Law enforcement officials argued the importance of protecting police officers and preventing the destruction of evidence.  They also argued that cell phones can be used by criminals to coordinate and communicate, and can provide incriminating evidence that may not be available elsewhere. The defendants in the two cases, who were backed by civil liberties groups and the news media, argued that their convictions should be overturned because their cell phones should not have been searched without a warrant. The Court sided with the defendants, and held that police must get a warrant before searching a suspect’s cell phone.

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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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DUI, Connecticut DUI arrest, multiple DUI convictions, ignition interlock deviceCriminal penalties for a second or third DUI conviction in Connecticut are serious: they can include prison terms, fines, and license suspensions. A second DUI arrest carries specific requirements for driving with an ignition interlock device if you wish to retain your driving privileges. If you have been charged with a second or third DUI, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that your rights are represented in court.

A second time offender is required to drive with an interlock device for three years. During the first year, the individual can only drive to school, work, an interlock service center, or an alcohol or drug abuse treatment facility. A second or subsequent offense requires the offender to submit to a drug or alcohol abuse assessment program and may be mandated by the court to attend a treatment program.

If arrested for a third or subsequent DUI arrest, the DMV will revoke your license. A convicted individual can have that license restored after two years, so long as certain conditions are met and the driver does not appear to be a danger to public safety.

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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.

child pornographyAn East Haven man was among 18 suspects arrested in a statewide targeted child pornography investigation. Detectives working for the Connecticut State Police Computer Crimes unit combined forces with the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Sex Offenders Unit to conduct the arrest warrant sweep on March 27th.

For the 18 arrested individuals, the state has the responsibility to prove several elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to find the defendants guilty of their charges:

  • Possession is the first component of a child pornography charge, which includes any picture, videotape, computer-generated image, or other visual depiction of a person under the age of 16;
  • The state must demonstrate that the defendant knowingly possessed child pornography;
  • The state must identify how many depictions of child pornography the defendant had, broken into categories or one or more, fewer than twenty, more than twenty but fewer than fifty, and fifty or more. This can include multiple copies of the same media.

If you have been charged with child pornography, any number of depictions can lead to a serious conviction. An arrested individual might raise an affirmative defense, under which he or she admits violation of Possessing or Transmitting Child Pornography by Minor instead of Possessing Child Pornography. While still a criminal offense, the former carries less serious penalties.

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