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stamford criminal defense lawyerAmple research has demonstrated the relationship between alcohol and violence. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that one in four instances of violent crime involves an offender who was drinking. Consequently, bar fights are not uncommon in Connecticut or elsewhere in the U.S. If you were involved in a bar fight, you could be charged with a serious criminal offense. You could even be facing jail time for assault.

You Could be Charged with Assault Even If You Were Defending Yourself

Bar fights often take place in dark, crowded bars or nightclubs. This can make it very difficult for police to determine who instigated the fight. Sometimes, the victim of a violent crime ends up being arrested and charged with assault even though he or she was not the instigator of the altercation. Regardless of your role in the fight, you could be subject to significant legal penalties, so it is crucial to seek qualified legal counsel right away.

You May Be Facing Considerable Criminal Penalties Including Imprisonment

The criminal consequences associated with an assault charge vary widely in Connecticut. Assault in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor offense punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $2000. You could be charged with misdemeanor assault if you allegedly intentionally injured another person or caused someone to be seriously injured as a result of reckless actions.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_hate-crime_20210504-195208_1.jpgWhen someone breaks the law, they can be charged with a criminal offense and sentenced to various criminal penalties. However, not all crimes are treated equally under Connecticut or federal law. Some crimes are considered “hate crimes.” Understanding exactly what crimes are considered hate crimes is not always easy. The law is often difficult to interpret, and the issue is shrouded in controversy. However, one matter remains clear: If you are charged with a crime, speaking with a criminal defense attorney is the best way to ensure that you receive the legal advice and support you need.  

What is a Hate Crime?

Certain individuals are specifically protected by the law. When a crime targets a protected class of people, this crime may be considered a hate crime. In Connecticut, it is against the law to threaten, harm, or harass someone on the basis of his or her ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. An individual who is charged with a hate crime may face criminal penalties and monetary damages in a civil lawsuit.

Categories of Hate Crimes in Connecticut

Per Connecticut law, a person commits first-degree “intimidation based on bigotry or bias” if the person deliberately injures another individual because of that individual’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, or disability. This crime is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. Second-degree intimidation involves destroying property, threatening, or making physical contact with someone in order to intimidate or harass him or her. This Class D felony is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000. Third-degree intimidation involves damaging or destroying property or threatening or encouraging someone to damage property on the basis of the aforementioned attributes. This is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and up to 2,000 in fines.

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Stamford CT DUI defense attorneyDriving under the influence of alcohol can lead to criminal consequences and administrative penalties in Connecticut. If you are arrested for DUI, you could be sentenced to jail time or community service and probation. You may also be fined up to $1000 or more. Your license may be temporarily suspended, and you may have to get an ignition interlock device in your vehicle to regain your driving privileges. Second or subsequent DUI offenses are penalized even more harshly. When defending against DUI charges, Connecticut DUI defense attorneys may argue that the charges should be dismissed entirely.

You May Be Able to Avoid a DUI Conviction

A skilled defense lawyer will know Connecticut DUI laws and how to defend against DUI charges. In some cases, DUI charges are dropped. Some of the most common reasons that DUI cases are dismissed include:

  • Illegal police stop – The police cannot pull someone over for no reason. They must have a “reasonable suspicion” that unlawful activity is occurring. Speeding, erratic lane changes, or running a red light may all justify a police officer’s stop. However, if there were no grounds for the police to pull you over, the evidence obtained during the stop, including breathalyzer results, may be inadmissible in court.

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Fairfield County criminal defense lawyerThe moments immediately following a major car accident are often a blur of adrenaline-induced panic. After realizing that a serious accident has occurred, a driver may check on the other individuals involved in the accident only to find that another person has been seriously injured or killed. If you cause an accident in which a vehicle occupant, cyclist, or pedestrian is hurt or killed, do you go to jail? In a situation like this, the first thing you should do is speak with a skilled attorney. You could be facing charges for assault with a motor vehicle or vehicular homicide.

Connecticut Laws Regarding Negligent Homicide with a Motor Vehicle

Car accidents happen for almost countless reasons. Sometimes, a driver is simply not paying close enough attention to the road. Other times, the driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol. The term negligence means carelessness or recklessness. If a driver acts with negligence, meaning he or she fails to act as a reasonably prudent person would act in a similar situation, and causes an accident in which someone dies, he or she may be charged with negligent homicide with a motor vehicle. This offense is also referred to as vehicular homicide. If you are convicted of negligent homicide with a motor vehicle in Connecticut, you face up to six months in jail.

Driving Under the Influence and Causing Severe Injury or Death

If a driver is intoxicated at the time of a fatal or injury-causing accident, the penalties are especially severe. In Connecticut, a driver may be charged with “assault in the second degree with a motor vehicle” if:

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Fairfield CT criminal defense lawyerThe United States Constitution gives us important rights and limits the power of the government. One of the most important rights afforded by the Constitution is the right to protection from invasion of privacy by the government. The Fourth Amendment states that people have the right to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures” of personal property. If you or a loved one was charged with drug possessiontheft, or another criminal offense, it is crucial that you understand how your Fourth Amendment rights may influence your case.

When Can Police Search My Vehicle?

Criminal charges for possession of marijuana or other drugs are often a result of police searching a vehicle. The laws protecting citizens against unreasonable search and seizure apply differently to vehicles than they do to other types of property. Police are permitted to search a person’s vehicle without a warrant if:

  • The person gives the officer consent or permission to search the car

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Fairfield CT DUI defense attorneyIn Connecticut, when a law enforcement officer pulls a driver over with reasonable suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), they will often ask the driver to take a chemical alcohol test such as a breathalyzer. If the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 or more (or 0.02 percent or more for an underage driver) he or she will be arrested and charged with DUI. If you or a loved one was recently arrested under these circumstances, you may wonder if it is possible that the breathalyzer results were inaccurate.

How Does a Breath Alcohol Test Work?

If you have ever been in a crowded bar, you have probably noticed that the smell of alcohol can linger on a person’s breath. Breath alcohol tests like breathalyzers test the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath and use this to determine the person’s blood alcohol content. The two types of breath alcohol testing devices used by police are preliminary alcohol screening devices and evidential breath test devices. A preliminary alcohol screening device or portable breath test is typically used during a traffic stop. These handheld devices are smaller and more convenient for roadside BAC testing than evidential breath test devices; however, they can also be less accurate than evidential breath test devices.

Breath Alcohol Testing Errors

Breathalyzers are carefully designed and calibrated to be as accurate as possible. However, it is possible for a preliminary alcohol screening device or evidential breath test device to display an inaccurate BAC. Errors may be caused by:

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Connecticut defense attorney, Connecticut criminal lawyerIn 2015, the Connecticut Supreme Court issued a 7-0 ruling (that is, a unanimous decision) stating that individuals who were convicted before 2011 for possessing less than one-half ounce of marijuana could have their convictions erased. According to the Supreme Court, this is because Connecticut’s legislature approved a measure in 2011 that changed possession of a small amount of marijuana from a misdemeanor punishable by fines and/or jail time to a violation punishable only by a fine. This had the effect of “decriminalizing” – but not legalizing – possession of small amounts of marijuana. Because of this legislative move, the Connecticut Supreme Court concluded individuals convicted of this offense prior to its decriminalization were entitled to have their prior convictions erased from their criminal records.

This case (State v. Menditto) has implications not only for old possession cases but potentially for other individuals with prior convictions as well.

State v. Menditto – What Did the Court Decide?

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Connecticut defense lawyer, CT drug lawyerLaws surrounding various recreational drugs, such as marijuana, are in a fluid state of change. Changes occur so frequently that even those paying the closest attention may miss a minor alteration. Frequent modifications cause uncertainty among the general populous as to what the current regulations entail. Officers depend on this ambivalence while doing their searches, hoping the unsuspecting individual will offer further information to incriminate themselves of a drug crime. However, officers are also aware that improper protocol opens themselves up for failure in court.

The Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is enacted most frequently during questions over proper police procedure. In short, its creation protected the people against British King George’s overbearing and excessive invasion into their privacy and furthermore it protects the rights of citizens against unwarranted search, seizure, and even detainment. It helps to understand what the amendment says, which is:

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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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Stamford traffic violations attorneyNo one wants to get a speeding ticket. The fines, the hassle of often dealing with license points, and the time it takes in the actual moment of incident to deal with law enforcement officials are costly in more ways than one. Driving even five miles over the posted speed limit in any area can result in being pulled over and handed a ticket—but if you are driving far faster than the speed limit, or in a manner that law enforcement determines is dangerous for yourself and other motorists on the road, you may be slapped with a reckless driving charge.

Reckless driving in Connecticut is considered a serious driving offense. Other serious driving offenses include improperly changing lanes, texting while driving, or following too closely. If you receive two serious offenses within three years, your license will be suspended for 60 days. If you receive three serious offenses within the same time period, your license is subject for suspension for 120 days.

Subjective Criteria 

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ignition interlock, DUI, Connecticut DUI defense lawyerBeginning on July 1, 2015, a stricter ignition interlock requirement will be implemented for drivers convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). Under the new law, the Department of Motor Vehicles is authorized to require ignition interlock devices to be installed in the vehicles of first-time DUI offenders.

An ignition interlock device is a small device that measures blood alcohol which is wired into the ignition of a vehicle. The driver must blow into the device before the vehicle may be started, and the vehicle will not start if the driver has a measurable blood alcohol level. Ignition interlock devices are shown to decrease the number of repeat DUI offenses by as much as 67 percent.

The new law impacts penalties imposed for a DUI conviction or for administrative violations of Connecticut’s drunk driving laws. In addition to requiring interlock ignition devices for DUI first offenders, the new law also:

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distracted driving, teen crashes, Connecticut traffic violations lawyerIf you are a teen driver or the parent of a teen driver, you have likely heard many warnings about the dangers of distracted driving, including texting and using a cell phone. A recent study shows that distracted driving is responsible for more teen car crashes than previously thought.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently studied videos taken from vehicle event recorders of almost 1,700 crashes involving teen drivers. These videos showed that distracted driving was a factor in 58 percent of accidents. This is almost four times higher than the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s previous estimate that 14 percent of accidents involving teen drivers were caused by distracted driving.

The following is a breakdown of the most frequent types of distractions and the percentage of accidents to which they were linked in the study:

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

heroin in the Stamford suburbs, Stamford criminal lawyerMany people think that drug crime is a problem only in big cities. However, lately the use of heroin and other drugs has been skyrocketing in the suburbs, including affluent communities. Increased drug use brings with it an increase in the number of arrests, hospital visits, and property crimes.

According to a recent article in the Connecticut Post, there has been a threefold increase in opiate addiction cases over the last decade at the Addiction Recovery Center at Greenwich Hospital. In addition, heroin deaths have been recorded by Greenwich Police every year since 2011.

Heroin-related arrests have increased as well. Greenwich Police made twelve heroin seizures in 2013, but the actual number is higher because the presence of heroin was not recorded in several other cases. Drug-related property crimes, including burglaries, items stolen from cars, and even street robberies, have been on the rise. Every year the Greenwich Police see from 80 to 100 residential burglary cases and 20 to 30 business burglary cases. It’s estimated that the vast majority of those cases—up to 95 percent of them—are related to drugs.

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intimidation laws in Connecticut, Stamford criminal law attorneyHate crimes are a sad reality for many Americans. Everyday, people face discrimination due to race, sexual orientation, religion, and a number of other factors. Conversely, some people face unfounded accusations of committing hate crimes, and in Connecticut, these crimes can have serious consequences.

Hate crime laws are in place to prevent prejudice and to punish those who unjustifiably discriminate against people. If you have been the victim of a hate crime, or if a person is accusing you of illegal discrimination, it is important to consult an attorney right away.

How the Law Defines Intimidation

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trucking violation, commercial driver's license, CDL, Stamford criminal defense lawyerIf you are a truck driver, you know all too well that there are very specific rules and regulations that you need to follow in order to remain licensed. Some of the regulations that must be observed pertain to the weight of your load, the accuracy of your logbook, equipment, traffic rules, and keeping your license in good standing. If you have been charged with a trucking violation, you need legal advice immediately.

Some of the things that you can get ticketed for include:

  • Overweight – there are regulations for total weight of the haul as well as per axle;
  • Weighing stations – you must stop at each weight station as appropriate;
  • Equipment – you must have good tires, lights, mud flaps, etc. and they must be in good condition;
  • Logbook violations – your books must be up to date, factual, and accurate;
  • Traffic violations – general traffic offenses such as speeding, texting while driving, etc. also apply to truck drivers;
  • Licensing issues – driving on a suspended or revoked license;
  • DUI or DWI – the blood alcohol limit for a CDL licensed driver is .04, half of the limit for other drivers.

Anyone who drives professionally, such as truck drivers, bus drivers, trailer drivers, and drivers of passenger vans and buses, will have to hold a valid CDL, or commercial driver’s license.

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

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

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

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

Posted on in Drug Charges

drug charges IMAGEA 29-year-old man was charged in late December for allegedly “operating a drug factory out of his Springdale apartment,” according to the Stamford Advocate. Ronald Taranto is facing multiple drug charges after police obtained a search warrant and searched his home, only to find cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and prescription drugs, the Advocate reports. “Taranto was charged with two counts of narcotics possession, possession with intent to sell, possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, and operating a drug factory.”

Police were tipped off the Taranto’s activity by neighbors who complained about his behavior. Stamford Police kept an eye on the man’s apartment for several weeks before making the bust. He was charged with intent to sell because police were able to seize “28 bags of powdered cocaine… 16 folds of heroin and 11 film packets of the prescription drug Suboxone—a drug used to treat opioid dependence,” according to the Advocate.

According to Connecticut State Law, the sale of one or more ounces of heroin, methadone or cocaine is a felony and carries and minimum term of five to 20 years in prison. The sentence cannot be suspended unless “the person was under the age of 18” at the time of arrest or the person’s “mental capacity was significantly impaired but not so impaired as to constitute a defense to prosecution.”

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