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CT defense lawyerNormally, when a person is convicted of a criminal offense, they serve their sentence and that is that. However, if a non-U.S. citizen is convicted of a criminal offense in Connecticut, they may face far more severe consequences than fines or a period in jail. Criminal convictions for immigrants can be very severe, with the most extreme being deportation. If you are facing criminal charges in Connecticut, you need an attorney who understands the potential consequences.

Two Types of Crimes

U.S. immigration law recognizes two types of crimes. A crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) is not something that one will find in a law book; it is a sort of catch-all title designed to categorize any crime that is said to have a component involving ‘moral turpitude’ like dishonesty or fraud. An aggravated felony is another category title that is used for crimes of violence or nonviolent crimes like money laundering or obstruction of justice on a grand scale. That said, it can be very difficult to determine whether the crime you have been convicted of fits either of these categories.

Not every crime falls under one of these categories - there is a petty offense exception, which can remove the possibility of deportation from a CIMT conviction if you can show that your offense was “petty” - that is, that its maximum penalty was one year or less, and that you personally were sentenced to six months or less. It does not necessarily follow that a misdemeanor will be a petty offense and a felony will not - the amount of time at issue is the crucial criterion. However, any conviction that is not for a petty offense will trigger serious immigration consequences.

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

Trust in Knowledge

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

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

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

A Danger to Others

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

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

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CT DUI lawyerDriving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is seen as one of the most reckless and dangerous crimes one can commit without having the malicious intent to harm anyone. The penalties, even for a first-time offender, can be quite serious. However, if you are caught driving under the influence again in Connecticut, the penalties are even more serious and no leniency will be granted to you as a repeat offender. If you have been charged with a second or third DUI, you need an attorney well versed in these types of cases to stand up for your rights.

A Second DUI Is a Felony

In Connecticut, the 10-year period after you are convicted of DUI is the key to keeping your criminal record clear. A first DUI is often charged as a misdemeanor if no one has been injured or killed, and as such, the person may be eligible for pretrial diversion programs and other rehabilitative options instead of having to serve a prison sentence. If you are convicted of a second DUI within 10 years of the first, you will automatically be charged as a felony, regardless of whether the DUI caused injury, death, property damage, or no damage at all.

A second DUI in 10 years being charged as a felony means that no pretrial diversion is available; if you are sentenced to prison at trial, you must serve that prison sentence. Connecticut law allows a sentence of between 45 and 730 days (two years) for any DUI beyond the first offense, as well as fines of up to $4,000 and a driver’s license suspension for up to three years, depending on the specific nature of your actions.

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CT defense lawyerCyber crimes are relatively new, given that they obviously did not exist before the advent of the technology to commit them. However, just because computer technology is ever changing and evolving does not mean that they can be used to commit crimes with impunity. Cyberbullying, cyberstalking and cyberharassment are all very real crimes that one can be charged within Connecticut, and if you are facing these charges, it takes an experienced attorney to know how to handle them appropriately.

Cyberbullying

While one thinks of ‘bullying’ as restricted to students, in reality, it can occur between any two or more people, of any age. Connecticut law criminalizes communicating with a person, in any form, “with intent to harass, annoy or alarm [them],” making it a Class C misdemeanor. This may not seem like a sufficiently harsh measure for the amount of grief that bullying behavior can cause, but it does carry a maximum of three months in prison, plus a $500 fine, which is more stringent than many misdemeanors.

Bullying and stalking are differentiated under Connecticut law by the emotion they are said to cause. Bullying does not necessarily cause fear - it may cause annoyance, anger, depression, and the like, but if an action rises to the level where a victim fears for their safety, it is more likely to be classed as an act of stalking than mere bullying. This is not precisely in line with the colloquial definition of those two words, but legally, the line must be drawn somewhere, and the legislature has chosen to put it there.

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CT juvenile defense attorneyAs part of a broader mission to reduce juvenile prosecution and recidivism across the country, Governor Dannel Malloy introduced a bill that would raise the age of criminal responsibility to 21 years old. If passed, this bill could have extremely important repercussions for any youthful offenders being charged or prosecuted in Connecticut. If you or your child have been charged with a criminal offense and you have questions about the current law or how the new law could affect you, please contact an experienced Stamford criminal defense attorney who can address your concerns.

The Benefits of Reform

Last year, Governor Malloy proposed a similar law that would have raised the age when a juvenile could be charged as an adult to 21 years old. Although the law stalled in the Connecticut Legislature, the new bill has received support from a number of different groups in the state. The reintroduction is also part of a country-wide effort to lower recidivism among youth offenders. In fact, at least three other states are considering similar proposals.

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Stamford criminal defense attorney, firearms law, Connecticut traffic laws, Connecticut DUI law, underage driversLate last year, the Connecticut Legislature passed a new bill that substantially changes the state’s previous treatment of carrying a firearm while intoxicated. To learn more about these changes, please contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can address your questions and concerns.

Current Law

Before the amendments were enacted, someone who was arrested with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .10 or higher and who was carrying a loaded firearm could be charged with a misdemeanor. However, since the first of the year, BAC levels have been decreased to align with the traffic laws regarding driving under the influence. This means that residents can now be charged with carrying a firearm while intoxicated if their firearm is loaded and they have a BAC of .08 or higher. For those under the age of 21 years old, the threshold is even lower—just .02. This change was also enacted to bring the law into alignment with traffic laws regarding underage drivers.

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Connecticut defense attorney, Connecticut criminal lawyerWhen someone makes violent crime accusations, they are effectively jeopardizing the future of the accused individual. An allegation on its own can wreak havoc on a once-clean reputation. With enough notoriety, the accused can lose family, jobs, and more. Intelligent and efficient representation early on can help to mitigate any lasting effects of any false claims. Additionally, it is beneficial to understand what the terminology means in a legal realm. In daily conversation murder and homicide are interchangeably used, but each has unique meaning when used in a court-of-law.

Murder: Capital, Felony, and Arson

Murder is the intentional killing of another individual, including forced suicide with duress or deception. Connecticut’s unique legal structure breaks the charge down further into capital, felony, or arson murder rather than first, second and third degree. The differences are as follows:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Refusing-a-Breathalyzer.jpgA social drink with friends or family can become a legal headache when the police are involved. Once the lights start flashing in your rearview mirror, that buzz may dissipate, but the alcohol remains in the system. Throughout the United States, you are innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, no matter how erratic you were driving, as the officer approaches the vehicle, substantial evidence of DUI is unavailable. However, if there is reasonable belief of driving while intoxicated, a breathalyzer is requested. You do have the right to refuse. However, refusal does come at a price.

Implied Consent Law

It is true that you are innocent until proven guilty of any crime, yet you must also watch out that you are not breaking a different law in the process of maintaining your innocence. While refusal of a breathalyzer or other chemical test may prevent the procurement of quantifiable evidence, the refusal may be construed as proof of knowledge of breaking the law. In the state of Connecticut, as well as many other states, drivers accept their driving privileges with the understanding of implied consent. The implied consent law says that after an arrest under probable cause of DUI, as a part of your driving privileges, you agree to blood, breath, or urine testing.

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Posted on in Driving Under the Influence

Fairfield County criminal defense attorneyMany children are similar to sponges in that they absorb everything around them. Have you noticed that your child repeats your language or behavior? This repetition is thought to be practicing behavior for children. They practice forming sentences or saying new words by verbally repeating your words. In the same way, they repeat behavior they see, such as exercising or spending time on electronics. Due to this and because children do not have a significant amount of leverage with the behavior of their parents, crimes such as DUI/OUI when children are present are punished more severely.

Risk of Injuries

When a child is under the age of 18, they are in the direct care of a parent or other guardian. It is the responsibility of that adult to ensure the safety of the child in question. The law specifically requires children under the age of 16 to be guarded safely, and anyone who violates this statute is subject to legal repercussions. Among other situations, the law explicitly states that it is illegal to:

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Posted on in Violent Crimes

Fairfield County criminal defense attorneyAs children, many of us were taught not to hit others, but if they hit us first, it was okay to defend yourself. Although that method works for small children, once they reach the pre-teen years, perhaps we should be a bit more elaborate. After all, the law states that only under certain, pre-defined circumstances is it okay for you to use violence as a form of defense. In many violent crime situations, it is entirely possible that the scenario can reverse in court, and the victim can quickly become the aggressor.  

The Scenario

Although the potential to be criminalized for defensive action can occur with almost any circumstance, for the brevity of this post, only one situation will be discussed. What if someone is breaking into your home through the window to your child’s room and protecting your kids asleep in bed, you shoot the intruder as they are crossing the threshold of the windowsill? What if the criminal dies as a direct consequence of their injuries sustained? If their family is distraught over their lost family member, they may obtain legal counsel and bring forth charges against you as the homeowner for murdering this person. You did not seek out to break any laws; you just were defending your family.

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Stamford Criminal Defense AttorneyBeing accused of any crime is an unnerving experience; criminal charges have the power to severely alter your present circumstances and your entire future, potentially affecting everything from your employment options to your educational choices. Assault charges in particular are especially damaging, as they are often the most serious and carry with them the most devastating consequences. There are some important things to consider when discussing the crime of assault.

“Assault” is a Broad Term

Assault crimes and charges can vary greatly. The law uses the term “assault” to refer to the carrying out of physical, bodily harm on someone else, or a presented threat to carry out such harm. Threats to hurt someone, being involved in a public disturbance, domestic violence, a breach of peace, and other types of disorderly conduct that involve the harm of another human being are all considered forms of assault. In general, less serious assault charges are categorized as third-degree. They are typically the lowest level of assault charges, while first-degree charges are the most serious. The severity of the injury and whether or not a weapon was used are just a few factors that determine the level of assault charge.

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Fairfield County criminal defense lawyerWhen it comes to your driving record, your wallet, and your safety, certain traffic violations can either mean minor inconveniences or major consequences for you as a driver. By avoiding the following driving behaviors, you can help keep the roads safer, keep your driving record clear, and hang on to that extra cash in your pocket.

Driving With a Suspended License or No License at All

If you are 18 years old or older and you receive two or more tickets for driving without a valid driver’s license, the next repercussion you will face is a mandatory driving privilege suspension that lasts for a period of 90 days. You are required to serve the full term of the suspension before you are eligible for license restoration. The same standards apply if you are found to be driving with a suspended license; you are not permitted to drive a motor vehicle until your privileges are restored and any applicable fees have been paid.

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Fairfield County criminal defense lawyerOften when we think of traffic violations, we think of hefty fines, arrests, and various crash statistics. While it is true that all these things typically accompany traffic violations, another area that is impacted by these incidents is the driver’s record. No matter how minor or major your violation might seem, the repercussions do not always end with a simple ticket and a fine.

Depending on the circumstances that surround your violation, you might face a serious hit to your driving record--consequences that can follow you long-term and affect everything from your car insurance rates to your privileges on the open road.

Point Assessments and Your Driving Record

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Stamford criminal defense attorneyInternet-based business fraud and theft in the state of Connecticut is a multi-faceted crime that has far-reaching consequences for everyone involved. Computer and internet crimes can include everything from identity, credit card, check, and wire fraud to healthcare theft and Medicare scams. Crime rates for these types of offenses continue to grow as our technological abilities continue to advance. Offenders are continually developing new, creative strategies and evolving in their schemes to reflect the current trends and stay one step ahead of authorities.

Types of Internet Fraud

Internet fraud varies and covers a wide range of areas, including but no limited to:

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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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age limit, juvenile system, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyIt is illegal to purchase alcohol or handgun until the age of 21. Congressional seats are unobtainable until the age of 25, as are most discounts on car insurance. Even rental cars have added restrictions for those under the age of 25. And yet, all throughout the country, children as young as 14 are tried and convicted as adults. Even in Connecticut, where the age of eligibility is quite progressive, most young adults are pushed out of the juvenile system the moment they turn 18.

Seems a little contradictory, does it not?

Interestingly enough, there are lawmakers and legislatures that actually agree; Governor Dannel Malloy is one of them. In fact, he recently proposed that Connecticut divert its youth from the adult correctional facility by raising its age of eligibility to 20, and that the state come up with alternative methods for handing non-violent offenders under the age of 25. As it turns out, there may be a number of benefits in doing so.

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Posted on in Assault and Battery

bar fight, assault, Stamford criminal defense attorneyThe idea that alcohol and violent assault are linked is nothing new. In fact, sometimes alcohol is blamed for incidents of assault in which it was not present, or did not play a contributing role. This is sometimes the case, for example, in the event of domestic violence: Assault is blamed on the effects of alcohol, rather than a deep-seated issue within the partner him or herself. In fact, there are several studies that call alcohol the most common “date rape drug,” because while a person may decide to drink, if she consumes more than was planning or more than she can handle, the chance of unwanted sexual assault or contact can increase. Yet the rate of assault of a non-sexual nature seems to be linked to alcohol as well. This is due in part to the commonly-known side effect of alcohol to make a person more violent and less able to control his or her emotions.

A large number of convicted offenders admit to having been under the influence of alcohol when he or she committed the crime. Out of more than 5 million convicted offenders who were recently surveyed, nearly 2 million (more than 35 percent) report having been drinking or drunk when the crime was committed. An example of this is the common bar fight. While bar fights may have been romanticized throughout history (think Old West saloons), assaulting someone at a bar while drinking can have very serious consequences that may go on a person’s permanent record.

The statistics around bar fights find that not every person is at the same level of risk for being involved in such an incident: Bar fights happen in darker, dirtier bars involving people who are heavy drinkers and usually unhappy to begin with. They also tend to happen in establishments in which there is a competitive game present (such as darts or pool), and in places in which there are more male employees/bartenders than female. Women, however, are not immune to the bar fight trap—it was determined that the women involved in bar fights had had roughly more than four drinks more than usual, meaning that their involvement in such an incident precluding excessive binge drinking at a higher rate than men.

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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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