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Fairfield CT criminal defense attorneyMany people buy items through Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Craigslist, or other online marketplaces. Others go to garage sales, flea markets, or simply ask neighbors or friends when they are interested in purchasing something. What happens when someone buys property that was stolen? Can the buyer face criminal charges for theft even if he or she paid for the item? What if the buyer did not know that the item was stolen?

Receiving Stolen Property Can Be Charged as Larceny

Consider the following situation: John buys a motorcycle from his neighbor, Jill. Unbeknownst to John, Jill stole the motorcycle from someone else. Can John face criminal theft charges? Many people are surprised to learn that the answer to this question is “yes.” An individual can be charged with theft in Connecticut if they buy or otherwise receive property that has been stolen.

Connecticut Law Regarding Receipt of Stolen Property

Connecticut uses the term “larceny” to refer to theft of property. An individual may be charged with larceny if he or she receives, holds, or disposes of stolen items “knowing that it has probably been stolen or believing that it has probably been stolen.” The language used by Connecticut law leaves room for interpretation. Most people charged with larceny for receiving stolen property claim that they did not know that the item was stolen. However, prosecutors often counter that the defendant should have known that the property was stolen. Prosecutors may point to the fact that the item was sold for much less than the market value or that the circumstances of the transaction were suspicious.

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Fairfield County marijuana possession lawyerLaws prohibiting the consumption and sale of marijuana are changing rapidly across the country. However, this does not mean that the substance is not subject to strict regulations. In Connecticut, marijuana has been decriminalized. Possession of less than a half-ounce of marijuana is punishable by a modest fine, and, if the offender is under age 21, a 60-day suspension of his or her driver’s license. However, possession of larger amounts of marijuana, transportation of the drug across state lines, or driving under the influence of marijuana can result in serious criminal consequences, including jail time.

Marijuana Possession May Be a Misdemeanor or Felony Offense

If you are caught with more than a half-ounce of marijuana, you face a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. However, you may be able to avoid jail time by participating in a pretrial diversion program. With this option, you may be required to undergo drug treatment, mental health counseling, community service, and/or ongoing drug testing.

If you possessed a significant quantity of marijuana, the prosecution may argue that you intended to sell the illegal drug. Selling marijuana or possessing it with intent to sell is a felony offense in Connecticut. If you are convicted of possession with intent to sell, you may face a prison sentence of up to seven years and a $25,000 fine. Possession of more than one kilogram of marijuana is punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_DUI_20201016-020939_1.jpgAnyone who drives a motor vehicle with an elevated blood alcohol concentration (BAC) may be arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Connecticut. An elevated BAC is defined as 0.08 percent for adults and 0.02 percent for drivers under the age of 21. If convicted of drunk driving, an individual faces an immediate administrative driver’s license suspension and a possible jail sentence of up to 6 months. If the offender’s BAC was significantly above the legal limit, he or she has previously been convicted of DUI, or there are other aggravating factors, the penalties associated with DUI are much more severe. If you or a loved one have been charged with DUI, read on to learn about the legal defenses that may be used to avoid conviction.

Defending Against a Connecticut DUI

To secure a conviction for DUI, prosecutors must prove that a driver’s alcohol consumption led him or her to be intoxicated and therefore unable to operate a vehicle safely. DUI defenses typically fall under one of two categories:

The Evidence Used to Charge The Driver Was Inadequate or Flawed: There are several chemical tests that are used to determine an individual’s blood alcohol content. The most common is a breath alcohol content test such as a Breathalyzer. Blood tests and urine tests may also be used. If the results of these tests are inaccurate, the driver’s true BAC is unknown. A Breathalyzer or other chemical BAC test may yield inaccurate results because the testing instrument was not calibrated correctly or was somehow damaged. BAC test results may also be inaccurate if the police officer or healthcare worker administrating the test administers it incorrectly. Clerical errors such as mislabeled or mixed up test results may also lead to inaccurate results.

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CT defense lawyerBreach of the peace is a crime that sounds antiquated as if no one has been charged with it in decades. Unfortunately, the reality is that it is a common crime even today, and people are charged with it for something they may see as inconsequential - for example, playing one’s music too loud, or using obscene language in public. If you are charged with breach of the peace, you must try to understand the charge against you and contact an attorney who can help to ensure your rights are protected.

What Is A Breach?

Breach of the peace in Connecticut can encompass a lot of different actions, from aggressive or threatening behavior to making threats against a person or their property, to committing assault or battery. (Note that assault and battery are two different causes of action - assault is committed when someone is put in imminent, reasonable fear for their own safety, while the battery is the actual physical contact that perpetuates that fear.)

Generally, you have a chance to be charged with a breach of the peace if you are engaged in behavior that may potentially pose a threat to public safety or to the “peace” of the neighborhood. The relevant law discusses the “intent to cause inconvenience” or alarm, or “recklessly creating a risk” and causing a “public and hazardous or physically offensive” condition. Intent and the degree of hazard in the situation you are involved in will make a difference.

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CT defense lawyerThe category of theft crimes covers quite a lot of legal real estate, but across the board, it is reasonable to say that none of the offenses under that umbrella should ever be taken lightly. Theft charges and convictions can reflect on your general character, and can actively harm future prospects for things like renting a home or getting a new job. If you have been charged with shoplifting or any other kind of theft crime in Connecticut, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help with your case.

Multiple Theft Crimes

In some states, simple theft is a different crime from, for example, receiving stolen property or shoplifting. In Connecticut, they are all grouped under the ‘umbrella’ of larceny, which in turn is defined as wrongfully “tak[ing], obtain[ing], or withhold[ing]” property from a person with the intent to deprive them of it or to take it for yourself. The different theft crimes have different criteria, but if you are charged with, for example, embezzlement, the actual charge will be larceny in the first, second, or third degree.

Other examples of Connecticut theft crimes include:

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CT defense lawyerAllegations of bias or bigotry are very serious and becoming increasingly not tolerated in this day and age. Many states, including Connecticut, have instituted significant penalties that can be added onto a sentence if it can be proven that the underlying crime was committed with intent to harm or threaten a member of a minority group. If you find yourself charged with a hate crime on top of another charge, it is a very serious charge that cannot be ignored.

Two Crimes

To charge someone with a hate crime in Connecticut, it must be alleged that they either committed assault, vandalism (or another property crime), or harassment, for the express purpose of targeting a person based on their immutable characteristics. There are three degrees of “intimidation based on bigotry or bias,” as hate crimes are officially known in Connecticut, and in order for someone to be found guilty of any of them, the prosecution must show both that the underlying crime and the bigotry or bias are present.

So, for example, if you are charged with assault after attacking someone, and there is reason to believe that you did so based on their race, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, the prosecution would have to prove both that you actually did commit the crime of assault, and that you did so against that particular person because of one or more of those characteristics. If the prosecutor cannot prove that you had the intent to attack that particular person out of hate or malice, you cannot be convicted of a hate crime.

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CT defense lawyerMost of the time, when a young person under a certain age is arrested and charged with a crime, they are charged with that crime as a juvenile, which is different than if they were charged as an adult. However, it is easy to get confused between the juvenile and adult systems in Connecticut, even though it is important to be aware of the differences and the varying potential consequences of charges in each. If you or your child has been charged as an adult when they are legally still a juvenile, it means that the case is a very serious one, and you need all the help you can get on your side.

Rehabilitation vs Punishment

In the United States, the juvenile court system is generally seen as rehabilitative, while the adult court system is seen as more punitive, and there is, unfortunately, truth to this. Juvenile offenders, whether they have been charged with a crime or a status offense (a non-criminal offense, such as being truant or a runaway), are often referred to rehabilitation programs or educational diversions, as opposed to being given jail time or other punitive consequences. Only truly serious juvenile offenses warrant detention and trial, and even at that point, a trial in juvenile court is much more geared toward rehabilitating the accused.

In juvenile court, it is also more likely that you will be able to minimize the potential consequences of the offense, even if you plead guilty or otherwise admit wrongdoing. Connecticut will often handle juvenile cases ‘non-judicially,’ meaning that juvenile offenders will be shunted into pretrial diversion programs or given another type of consequence rather than jail time. Counseling or community service are common options.

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CT defense lawyerCrime evolves right along with law enforcement, utilizing technology and its convenience to commit more offenses. In perhaps the last 30 years, computer-based crimes have become more and more common, creating a need for new laws and different types of enforcement. However, sometimes people with no criminal intent can get caught up in the dragnet. If you have been arrested and charged with a computer crime, you need an experienced Stamford criminal defense attorney to help get you through the process.

Many Different Types

A general computer crime statute exists in Connecticut, covering several possible offenses, including misuse of a computer system, unauthorized access to a computer system, and intentional disruption or denial of computer services. However, computer crimes are somewhat unique in that these are very rarely charged as isolated offenses. They will often be charged in connection with another crime - for example, the use of a computer to harass or threaten another person is still technically a computer crime, despite the fact that harassment can be done without the use of technology.

While the laws surrounding many other offenses also may provide for a civil cause of action, no specific computer crime-related one exists in Connecticut law. If a person believes there may be grounds for a civil lawsuit against the alleged perpetrator, the recommended course of action is to bring suit under the overarching legal theory (for example, if a person was cyberbullied, they would likely bring a civil suit alleging harassment).

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CT defense lawyerWe hear stories about credit card breaches all the time. That’s why more than two-thirds of consumers are concerned about fraud. You should also be concerned if you are charged with committing a credit card crime, because these are serious offenses in Connecticut. Here are two examples:

  • Credit card theft and fraud. Anyone who takes another person’s credit card without their consent with the intent to use or sell it is guilty of credit card theft. Offenders can spend up to five years in jail and pay a $5,000 fine. Anyone who obtains a credit card as security for debt with the intent to defraud is also subject to these penalties; and
  • Illegal use of credit card. Anyone who uses a credit card knowing it is forged, expired, or revoked, or who pretends to be the holder of a credit card that hasn’t actually been issued, is guilty of illegal use of a credit card. This is a misdemeanor if the value of goods obtained with the card doesn’t exceed $500. Offenders can spend up to five years in jail and pay a $5,000 fine.

The difference between credit card theft and illegal use of a credit card is that the first punishes people who illegally obtain credit cards, and the other punishes people who illegally use credit cards.

Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if you’re arrested for these offenses or any type of credit card-related crime.

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