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Posted on in Juvenile Crimes

CT defense lawyerIf your child commits a crime while they are under the age of 17, the offense will generally be handled in juvenile court, which is focused far more on rehabilitation than on punishment. However, sometimes the offense will not be serious enough to be sent to adult court, but serious enough to warrant further supervision. In these cases, the answer is usually to remand the juvenile to detention. This is less common than it used to be, but it will happen in some cases, and if it does, it is important for both you and your child to understand your rights in this situation.

15 Days Max - Usually

Most situations in which a minor is arrested in Connecticut will end in their being released to their parents with a promise to appear in juvenile court in days or weeks. However, if the child has committed a more serious offense, authorities have the option of sending them to juvenile detention until the next business day, when arraignment will usually happen. Unlike in adult court, bail is not required in juvenile court, and minors may not post bail of their own accord, so very often a minor will remain in the detention center until their arraignment.

In all but the rarest cases, the maximum amount of time a juvenile can remain in detention is 15 days. The only time this will be extended is if the juvenile has committed a serious juvenile offense (SJO), which is a crime which may (and frequently must) merit transferring the case to adult court. The list of SJOs include approximately 50 felonies, such as murder, sexual assault, and first-degree robbery, and kidnapping. If your child has been charged with an SJO, the likelihood of them remaining in juvenile detention is quite high even if the case remains in the juvenile court system.

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Connecticut juvenile lawyer, Connecticut defense attorneyWith an increasing amount of pressure on our teens, we see a rise in unusual behavior. Our children face uncertainty upon leaving high school, partly due to fluctuation in job markets as well as climbing education costs. The need for perfection in school and extracurriculars is high to obtain scholarships to pay for education. Not to mention the additional stress for social status and every mistake spread wildly across social media outlets. Many of these stressors may lead to a cry for help or an error to fit in, potentially resulting in criminal accusations, such as theft or other property crimes.

A Learning Curve

A juvenile is an individual under the legal adult age of 18. In Connecticut, anyone under the age of 18 has a proclivity to make mistakes, and many deserve punishment, although not as severe as the adult counterpart. Many consequences for those in this age bracket are designed to teach a lesson rather than remove rights. This theory applies to a certain extent encompassing mostly theft related crimes because in many other situations adult punishments are the only option.

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Posted on in Juvenile Crimes

Stamford juvenile defense attorney“They were mean to me!” Most parents have heard this or a similar complaint from their child. In previous generations, children were often left to learn from the experience by handling it themselves. If the methodology chosen was incorrect, our parents were sure to let us know about it as soon as we got home. In the present day, there is a national outcry for the school system to step in and protect children. Although school should have some responsibility to ensure the safety of the child, there is a point where the bully becomes a victim.

What Constitutes Bullying?

Stereotypically, the bully is the child that dominates their classmates, taking their lunch money and locking them in lockers. Bullying comes in all forms, including verbal, emotional and physical. The term has expanded to encompass a broad range of behaviors, which, by law, each school district is to define independently. However, legislation exists at the state and federal level to combat violence and harassment in the education system. The law dictates that bullying is:

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Stamford juvenile crime defense attorneyJuvenile crimes are among some of the most heartbreaking, especially where parents and loved ones are concerned. Everything from bullying, campus crimes, sex offenses, and drug allegations continue to impact not only the juveniles found guilty of such crimes, but families, friends, and, of course, victims, as well. Anyone involved in these juvenile offenses can testify to the life-altering effects brought on by such tragic behavior.

Recent Developments in Juvenile Crime Rates

As of January 2016, Connecticut has seen a 54 percent decrease in annual juvenile arrests and incarcerations since 2009.  During that same period, there has been a 75 percent decrease in inmates under the age of 18. These statistics are encouraging, driven by the “Raise the Age” state initiative that went into effect back in 2012, which raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction to age 18. Additionally, the percentage of young offender cohort arrests declined, and arrest rates for juveniles aged 16 to 21 on an annual basis have been consistently dropping.

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juvenile crime, Stamford criminal defense attorneyAlthough the number of youths charged with crimes has been on the decline, statistics show that the juvenile justice system still processed more than one million teens and children for crimes in 2014. Their charges, which range from simple drug violations and vandalism to murder, often carry hefty penalties, particularly in more conservative, heavy-handed states. When paired with poor rehabilitation programs, the probability of recidivism increases exponentially. All of this makes one thing very clear: something must change if we hope to save our youth.

How America’s Juvenile Justice System Is Failing Its Youth

Experts have long argued that youths in the juvenile justice system are treated unfairly, especially when their lack of maturity is taken into account. Some states – Connecticut, for example – have responded accordingly and managed to improve conditions and shift the focus to rehabilitation rather than punishment. But others fail miserably and, despite research and scientific studies, fail to recognize that young people are less likely to be able to self-regulate and make sound decisions.

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threats, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyWith more than 160 school shootings since 2013 – 52 of which occurred in 2015 alone – lawmakers are looking for a way to deter further violent acts and threats. This is the goal behind their latest proposed bill. If passed, it would increase penalties for those found guilty of even simply making a threat against any school, including preschools, primary schools, high schools, and higher education schools.

Recent “Wave” of Threats Prompted New Bill

According to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Stamford Democratic Representative William Tong, several bomb threats have recently been made against schools throughout the state of Connecticut. All prompted complete evacuations, causing needless panic among students, staff, and police. Senator Tony Hwang of Fairfield, also in support of the bill, says the threats have gone above and beyond simple childhood pranks.

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juvenile sex offender, sex offender registry, Stamford criminal defense attorneyFor years, states have been tightening the registry for sex offenders, and this includes juvenile sex offenders. But, as more evidence comes in, some states are starting to rethink how they handle their juvenile cases. Unfortunately, the changes are slow in coming, and this can mean some big issues for some juvenile offenders, even in the state of Connecticut, where juveniles are not typically registered.

The Truth about Juvenile Sex Offenders

Early information and thinking on juvenile sex offenders had been originally based on what was known about adult offenders. Over time, it has become clear that juvenile offenders and adult offenders are very different. For example, juvenile offenders are far less likely to reoffend than adults, especially if they receive quality treatment and intervention. In fact, some studies have found recidivism rates to be as low as one percent among juvenile offenders.

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juvenile, tried as an adult, Stamford Criminal Defense AttorneyThere has been much media coverage over a recent murder case which occurred in downtown Stamford several weeks ago. According to details released by law enforcement, the 52-year-old male victim was walking out of a fast-food restaurant when he accidently bumped into a 15-year-old teenager. The teen, along with two other males, allegedly beat the victim with hands and a stick. At some point, one member of the group pulled a knife and stabbed the victim several times in the heart, while the other two continued to beat him. A passing ambulance saw the victim on the ground and quickly transferred him to the hospital. The man died several hours later.

The 15-year-old teen has been arrested and charged with the man’s murder. Police claim that he is the person who stabbed the victim. However, prosecutors have charged him as an adult, not a juvenile. He is currently being held on a $2 million bond at a juvenile detention center. Although many people are upset over the tragic and violent way the victim died, there are also many people who are questioning why the 15-year-old accused is being processed in the adult criminal justice system, and not the juvenile system.

In Connecticut, the law allows for the prosecution of juveniles in the adult system under certain criteria. Any child age 14 or over who is accused of committing a Class A or Class B felony is immediately transferred to the adult court system. Connecticut law also lists approximately 50 criminal offenses, referred to as “Serious Juvenile Offenses” or “SJOs” which can also result in a transfer of a juvenile from a juvenile court to adult court.

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statutory rape, sexual assault, Stamford Criminal Defense LawyerSex crimes are pretty black and white when it comes down to it. Yet there are some cases in which the crime—and the punishment—can fall into a rather gray area, and statutory rape is among these. Somewhat surprisingly, most states do not refer specifically to statutory rape, but instead designate such a crime as sexual assault or sexual abuse. Assault and abuse are blanket terms used to designate or identify such prohibited activity. Regardless of semantics, statutory rape is a sexual crime against a person who is not of age, based on the premise that until a person reaches a certain age, sexual contact with that person is illegal, regardless of consent. In most states, including Connecticut, the age of legal consent is 16 years old.

The punishment in Connecticut for statutory rape is steep—from 10 to 25 years in prison with a mandatory minimum of five years if the victim is between the age of 10 and 16. A convicted individual will receive a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison if the victim is less than 10 years old.

The US Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reports that the vast majority of statutory rape victims (up to 95 percent) are female, but regardless of gender, almost 60 percent of all statutory rape victims were aged 14 or 15. Thirty percent of statutory rape offenders were boyfriends or girlfriends, meaning that the chance of consent was actually likely—even if the consenter did not have the legal ability to do so. An estimated sixty percent of all statutory rape offenders were acquaintances.

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sexting, text messages, Connecticut Sex Crimes Defense AttorneySending sexually explicit content through text, pictures, or video—known as “sexting”—has become a major concern among U.S. parents. This is especially true in cases involving pictures or video. To govern these crimes, various states began adopting teen sexting laws starting in 2009. Today, roughly half of the states in this country have some type of legislation that relates to sending sexual content over the Internet and on cellphones. Understanding these laws is critical for every parent.

How Sexting Can Get Teens in Trouble

Sexting made national headlines when a teenager faced charges of distributing child pornography. According to CNN, the defendant distributed nude pictures of his 16-year-old girlfriend as a means of getting back at her for an argument. As a result of this case, the court labeled the defendant a sex offender.

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Juvenile CrimePrior to 2012, Connecticut was one of only three states in the U.S. that treated teens aged 16 and 17 as adults under criminal law. As a result, 16- and 17-year-olds were prosecuted under the adult justice system and were sentenced to adult prisons with no special rehabilitative services designed for adolescents. However, as a result of juvenile justice reform, legislation raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction for 16-year-olds on January 1, 2010, and for 17-year-olds on July 2, 2012.

Despite fears that these changes would cause the juvenile justice system to be overwhelmed and that the crime rate would increase dramatically, neither have happened. In fact, the crime rate in Connecticut for 2013 has decreased for the second straight year. The increase in the age of adult prosecution could be a contributing factor. Fewer teens are being incarcerated in adult prisons and commit more serious crimes after their release.

Those under 18 can still be prosecuted as adults for certain crimes. These include serious felonies such as murder, rape, or armed robbery, and will result in a mandatory transfer of the case to the adult justice system. In the case of other, less serious felonies such as drug dealing, vehicular homicide, aggravated assault, and weapons charges, a hearing will be held to determine whether the case will be prosecuted in adult or juvenile court.

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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.

social host law connecticutEveryone knows minors under 21 years old who are found to possess alcohol can face criminal penalties, but many people are not aware parents and other adults can also face criminal penalties for permitting underage drinking on their property. The so-called Connecticut “Social Host Law” was first enacted in 2006 and strengthened in 2012, providing fewer loopholes and stricter penalties.

The law that was amended, Section 30-89a of the Connecticut Statutes, prohibits anyone owning or controlling a residence or other private property from knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, permitting a minor to possess alcohol at the residence or other private property. Those individuals are also required by the law to make reasonable efforts to stop the possession of alcohol by a minor. A person who violates the Social Host Law can be found guilty of a class A misdemeanor, for which the penalties are up to a year in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,000.

As written, any adult, including a parent, family member, or friend, can be held responsible under the law. The underage drinking does not have to occur in the home; it can occur anywhere on a person’s property. The adult does not have to furnish the alcohol to the minors in order to be held liable for underage drinking. The adult can also be held responsible even if not present when the underage drinking occurs.

The Connecticut Social Host Law, as strengthened in 2012, makes it difficult for homeowners to avoid triggering the law if underage drinking occurs in their home or on their property. It’s also unclear what “reasonable efforts” are required under the statute to stop a minor from possessing alcohol. If you have been charged with a violation of the Social Host Law, contact an experienced Connecticut criminal lawyer to help you through the daunting process.

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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