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CT defense lawyerViolence is never the answer, but everyone makes mistakes, and everyone needs to defend themselves. If you have been involved in an incident where you used force, or threatened to use force, to cause bodily injury to another person, you can be charged with a crime of violence in Connecticut. Regardless of which specific crime you are charged with, it can derail your life plans significantly if you are convicted, so if there are mitigating circumstances, or if you simply want to ensure that your side of the story is told, it is a good idea to consult a Stamford violent crimes attorney to discuss your case.

Hard to Navigate the System

The National Registry of Exonerations lists almost 2,400 exonerations of wrongly convicted men and women that have occurred since 1989, with Connecticut having granted 25 in that time. While law enforcement tries to do its job well in order to ensure our streets are safe, it is true that sometimes, personnel will cut corners - perhaps pushing witnesses to exaggerate; perhaps inappropriate or illegal searches, or other actions. They will try to search for confessions and easy convictions that simply may not be there for the taking. It is not unheard of for law enforcement to allow violations of defendants’ constitutional rights in the hope that they will implicate themselves.

None of this is fair, and without an attorney, the chances are higher that you may be wrongfully convicted of a crime you did not commit, or receive a harsher sentence than might be warranted under state or federal laws. Even if you did harm or kill someone, you are still entitled to a fair trial and to a competent defense, and in some situations, you are less likely to get one without an experienced attorney on your side.

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Connecticut juvenile lawyer, Connecticut defense attorneyThere has been a sweeping legislative wave of criminal law reform taking place all over the nation. Prison populations across the country have exploded to untenable levels, absolutely eviscerating various state budgets and causing entire generations of otherwise productive individuals to become lifelong offenders. This problem is magnified in juvenile criminal law. In 2016, there were 496 juveniles sentenced to an order of detention. Many of those sentenced were sentenced for nonviolent offenses that would be charged with a misdemeanor if they were prosecuted in adult court.

Ending the School to Prison Pipeline

The school to prison pipeline is a phrase used to describe an increasing trend of students being subjected to criminalized discipline and winding up in the criminal justice system before they are even able to finish high school. Advocates of juvenile criminal justice reform have long argued that criminalized discipline is counterproductive to the best interest of our youth. Take for example the Deputy Director of the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, Lara Herscovitch, who argued, “We feel strongly that far too often arrests are used in place of regular student discipline.”

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Connecticut defense attorney, Connecticut juvenile lawyerGov. Daniel Malloy has proposed a plan that would raise the age for young offenders being prosecuted in adult court. Under the proposal, those tried in adult court would have to be 21 years old.

The proposal would not include those charged with serious offenses such as rape, assault with a firearm, and murder. Currently, those 18 years old and over are tried in adult court.

Gov. Malloy presented this proposal in 2016, but the legislature did not act on it. However, there are signs that this year, it may fare better. If this plan is adopted, Connecticut would be the first state to raise the age above 18 for most juvenile offenses.

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Connecticut defense attorney, Connecticut juvenile crimes lawyerWhile watching any teen movies these days, it seems that all our children want to do is drink alcohol and break rules. As the story progresses, a parent is nearly always out of town, and their child invites the entire school over for a night of unsupervised events. Luckily for these cinematic plots, there almost always seems to be a hero who opposes underage drinking and good choices triumph. Perhaps these scenarios serve as a cautionary tale for us as parents to never leave our children alone. However, on the other end, you also do not necessarily want them to go off to college without ever being trusted while you and your spouse run to the grocery store. What our juvenile children do while we are away can have us met with handcuffs and parental liability when we return.

Underage Drinking

If your child sneaks into the liquor cabinet while you are gone, it is not likely that the police will immediately come knocking on the door. However, once neighbors begin to notice droves of children flocking into your home while your car is absent, someone may be inclined to involve the police. Officers jump on the opportunity to make a public example of the teen in question. The problem with making a display is it supersedes the right to a fair court hearing. In too many cases, these juveniles invited over just a couple close friends and those friends are the people who called the school, unbeknownst to you or your child. In similar scenarios, leaving your adolescent alone with an open supply of liquor can result in a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,000.00. Your child can also face charges, resulting in:

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forgery, counterfeiting, Fairfield County criminal defense attorneyThe crime of forgery may refer to large operations in which a person purposefully lies about the origin of a high-end luxury good in order to sell it at supposed market value. It may, in this case, bring to mind images of people hawking forged goods on the street corner or in discount stores. However, it may also refer to any instance in which a person signs another person’s name, such as for a package delivery, or accepting someone else’s mail.

Yet it is not just the act of selling a forged product or pretending to be someone else in order to sign for him that is considered under law to be an act of forgery—any step in the counterfeiting process is subject to criminal punishment. This includes the manufacture of any analog or digital images, impressions of tools, or possessing such tools for counterfeiting purposes, no matter where in the world a person is at the time of the crime. That is, it is technically against the law for any person outside of the United States to manufacture, deal, or possess any counterfeit security of the United States—however ambitious this is to enforce on the ground.

Forged Certificates and Written Instruments

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property crime, Stamford criminal defense attorneyViolent crime has seen a marked decrease in the past decades, leading many U.S. citizens to feel more secure than ever before. Just as violent crimes—such as rape, murder, and assault—have decreased in recent years, the rate of property crime has as well. Despite a national economic climate that some would say leads to a higher rate of non-violent property crime, over the five-year period between 2006 and 2010, there was more than a 12 percent drop in property crime. The 2010 rate of property crime (how many incidents per number of 100,000 residents) was about 2,9400—a marked decrease from 3,660 in 2001 and 3,350 in 2006.

There are several types of property theft as defined by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. These include (but are not limited to): burglary, larceny, theft, and motor vehicle theft. Burglary is the forcible breaking and entering to an unauthorized location, and usually involves charges of theft as well. Motor vehicle theft is the stealing of a car or other type of motor vehicle. Larceny is the unlawful taking of property—other than a motor vehicle—without force. That is, pickpocketing or shoplifting would be considered larceny. A charge may be increased to grand larceny depending on the value of the stolen items.

Beginning in the 1990s and continuing today, increased incarceration rates seemingly have deterred many from committing non-violent property crimes. Other reports attribute the decline in this type of crime to more effective law enforcement. And yet many statisticians say that, while these types of crime have continued to decrease while incarceration rates increase, the correlation is not so simple. The aging population may influence this as well, as may the fact that the number of police on the street continues to grow. Some reports note that the increased incarceration rates only accounted for 6 percent of the property crime decline in the 1990s, and only 1 percent in the 2000s. There is also the issue that some statisticians are drawing conclusions by making a comparison between two disparate cities or communities, leading to a simplistic or incomplete analysis.

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false rape allegations, Stamford criminal defense attorneyIf you are accused of rape or forcible sexual assault, it is an allegation that has the potential to stay with you forever, even if you are acquitted of the actual crime. This is especially true for young people in universities, because of the sensitive nature of alleged sexual assault in public or private institutions.

Growing Concerns

Due to several recent highly-publicized crimes in which university officials did not necessarily respond to allegations of rape with the fullest severity required by law, some colleges have attempted to go the other way, meaning that allegations of rape are treated more seriously than ever before. This is good for legitimate victims, but it can also mean that false accusations are not investigated to the fullest and dismissed as such. Often, the accused is not given a fair chance in court or campus society. While it may be particularly difficult to disprove allegations of rape on campus, this is an issue that affects all accusations of sexual assault.

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disabilities, hate crime, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyHate crimes are largely considered those perpetrated against certain groups or individuals, motivated by the victim's religion, race, or sexual orientation. Indeed, the most widely-publicized incidents labeled as hate crimes are those in which a person is distinctly vocal about his or her disdain for a certain group of people and its beliefs, creeds, or private activities. Yet hate crimes can also be perpetrated against groups of people with disabilities, whether they are primarily physical. mental, or emotional in nature. In fact, studies show that people with learning disabilities are more vulnerable than others to experience bullying, harassment or to be victims of hate crime. In 2007, for example, 79 of the total hate crimes reported nationwide were committed against people with disabilities, a marked increase from the 44 hate crimes against people with disabilities that were reported in 2003.

Historically Few Protections

This group of people includes any person who has mental or emotional issues, including but not limited to: development delays, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and other mental impairments. For much of the 20th century, people with disabilities were often marginalized from so-called “normal” society, and there were no laws specifically forbidding discrimination against them. The Americans with Disabilities Act, the nation’s first civil rights law prohibiting the discrimination of people with disabilities in the workplace, public accommodations, and public services, was not passed until 1990. It may be little wonder, then, that the rate of hate crimes perpetrated against this particular group continues to be an issue.

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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 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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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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Connecticut crime rates 2014, Stamford criminal attorneyThe crime rate is down in Connecticut. That’s the good news. But is it possible to know exactly what factors are responsible for the improved enforcement, enhanced prevention, and ultimately the reduction in crime?

According to a new report by the Connecticut Emergency Services and Public Protection Department, the 2013 crime rate in the state dropped to its lowest level in four decades. The figures are based on the major crimes reported to the FBI, including murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft.

The year-to-year drop in violent crime, which includes murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault offenses, was 10.8 percent, double the national average. Property crime, which includes burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft offenses, was down 7.6 percent, higher than the 5.4 percent national drop. However, although the drop in the murder rate was dramatic, there were still 86 murders in the state in 2013. The overall crime rates are largely driven by the crime rates in the state’s three largest cities, Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford.

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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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search warrant, your rights, cell phone, Connecticut criminal defense lawyerGenerally, 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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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.

Your first stop after being charged should be to contact a criminal defense attorney. Only an experienced attorney will understand the state’s preparation for a child pornography case. Since it’s so vital that the state prove each of the three elements above, you need someone on your side fighting for your rights and ensuring that your side of the story is told, too. Do not underestimate the influence of a child pornography charge. If you have been accused, contact a Connecticut sex crimes attorney today.

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 Sex Crimes

sextingHenry Moy, 23, of Norwalk was charged in late January by Stamford police with “risk of injury to a child, use of computer to entice a child and employing a minor in an obscene performance,” according to New Canaan News Online. Moy allegedly enticed a young girl to “take lewd photos of herself and send them to him,” police told New Canaan News, while he was working part time as a lifeguard in a New Canaan YMCA. Moy also works as a trainer at a Stamford gym. He was “released after posting a $100,000 court appearance bond.” He is expected to appear in court later in February in connection with the allegations.

Lt. Dedrich Hohn told the New Canaan News that the girl’s father made the initial complaint to police, after finding his daughter’s cellphone “and saw sexually charged texts and videos that she allegedly sent to her gym coach.” Lt. Hohn said that the ones her father found were only a fraction of the hundreds of texts the girl had sent to Moy. Moy was called into the station on a ruse and police subsequently confiscated his cellphone. “If police find any of those pictures,” New Canaan News reports, “Moy can be additionally charged with possession of child pornography.” The detective said that in the texts it is readily apparent that Moy was encouraging the young girl to send him the explicit photos and videos.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in 2012 “at least 13 states introduced bills or resolutions aimed at sexting.”  The Connecticut State Police report that one in five teens admit to either having sent or received a “sext” message. “Sexting may result in several felony charges if you are sending images of children under the age of 16,” the Connecticut State Police Department reports.

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Connecticut drug crimes, criminal possession, Connecticut criminal law, Stamford drug crimeTwo Connecticut men are facing criminal charges after they fled from police during a vehicle stop in Poughkeepsie last week. At the time of the stop, passenger Justin L. Skipwith left the scene on foot, to be stopped a block away by taser. While police were going after him, the vehicle driver left the premises in his car.

The vehicle was stopped at the intersection of Henmond Boulevard and Route 55, where police discovered a .38 caliber weapon, marijuana, and possible phencyclidine (also known as PCP). After this discovery, police charged Skip with with second degree criminal weapon possession, two counts of seventh degree criminal controlled substance possession, fourth degree possession of marijuana, one count of resisting arrest and fourth degree criminal stolen property possession.

The vehicle driver was also charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, and non-felony violations of state traffic and vehicle laws.

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stamford criminal lawyerIf your child is convicted in a case where another person suffered bodily injury or property damage, you could be held liable for the financial losses that occurred as a result of this incident. These cases can be complex, and if you want to be sure that your rights are protected, as a parent you should hire a Stamford criminal attorney sooner rather than later to discuss your case.

Connecticut law has provisions that allow for parental financial liability as a result of willful criminal acts of children. Parents could be held financially responsible for up to $5,000 in losses. The parental liability statute tends to be on the other party’s side in a case like this, since it’s often not necessary to provide proof that the parent was negligent. A criminal conviction involving the child where losses occurred is generally enough to provide the grounds for a parental liability case.

Parental liability can be brought into cases where parents were aware of a “dangerous tendency” within the child. For example, the parents of a child who had previously expressed an interest in fire or damaged property in the home as a result of fire could be held liable for damages and injuries that resulted from an incident with fire elsewhere. If a child damages (willfully and maliciously) property or takes a motor vehicle without the permission of the owner and damages it, a parent can be held severally and jointly liable in the case and have to pay financial losses to the other party.

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