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Posted on in Violent Crimes

CT defense lawyerLike in any other state, Connecticut does experience its share of violent crime, though it still occurs less often than one might think. At the same time, when someone is arrested and charged with a violent crime, the pressure is on the prosecution to make certain that the right person is convicted. If you have been arrested and charged with any crime of violence, it is crucial that you seek out an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, as the stakes cannot be higher.

Facing Serious Consequences

A violent crime is any offense involving either bodily injury or the threat of bodily injury, to another person. Some examples, like robbery, can involve the threat of bodily injury being part of committing another criminal offense, but this is not strictly necessary. There is no specific “violent crimes” statute in Connecticut, but many of them are grouped in a similar legal place - in other words, many of them carry the same fines and prison sentences if someone is convicted. Crimes such as assault and battery, kidnapping, domestic violence, murder/manslaughter, sexual assault, and various weapons crimes are just some of the offenses classified as violent in Connecticut.

Violent crimes are generally tried as felonies, and depending on the degree, the resulting jail sentence can be anywhere from 1-10 years for a Class C felony (for example, manslaughter in the second degree), to life without the possibility of parole for a capital felony (murder with special circumstances, such as murder for hire or murder of a child under age 16). While judges do have a degree of discretion in sentencing for many violent crimes, this is not the case for capital felonies, even with Connecticut’s repeal of their death penalty statute in 2012.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_assault_20200402-030343_1.jpgAssault crimes in Connecticut are those that involve one person attacking another, either with or without a weapon, with the intent to make contact. Depending on the degree, you do not need to have intended to injure the person you attacked - but the injured person and the state have a right to seek consequences against you nonetheless. If you have been charged with assault, you need an experienced attorney to help protect your rights.

Mandatory Minimums

There are several different levels of assault charges in Connecticut, ranging from assault in the first degree, down to assault in the third degree with a weapon. In addition, assaults on different types of victims may raise or lower the degree of the charges - for example, assaulting a child or an elderly person is considered a more serious crime, due to the more fragile nature of the victim in these cases. This is especially true if the victim’s injuries are severe; the worse the harm suffered, the more likely one is to face serious consequences.

It is worth noting that assault in the first degree is one of the few crimes in Connecticut that carries a mandatory minimum sentence, meaning that if convicted, there will be at least a part of your sentence that cannot be “suspended or reduced by the court” - it must be served, full stop. The lesser degrees of assault do not carry mandatory minimums, except for if a firearm was used in the commission of the act, but they do carry prison time in most situations, to say nothing of the fines and fees you will have to pay.

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CT defense lawyerPossessing any kind of illegal drugs in Connecticut (with the exception of very small amounts of marijuana) is a serious offense in Connecticut, and if you are caught, you will face consequences that can be long-lasting, especially for juveniles. Do not try to navigate the court process alone; enlist a knowledgeable attorney who has experience in these cases to make sure that your rights are protected and the outcome of your case is appropriate.

Sentences Are Stiff

Connecticut’s drug laws are specific and uncompromising, and possession is seen as a significant offense, despite the decriminalization of possessing less than ½ an ounce of marijuana. Possessing more than ½ an ounce is generally a misdemeanor while possessing some harder drugs like narcotics can be a felony charge, and possessing hallucinogens like LSD or MDMA is punishable by up to five years in prison for a first offense. Because of the perceived risk to society, drug possession is a crime that prosecutors will often try to pursue aggressively.

That said, not every case of possession is an automatic black mark on a person’s record. The law does recognize certain exceptions to the law governing possession - it states, for example, that where possible, people who “breathe, inhale, sniff or drink” controlled substances are to be afforded medical treatment rather than criminal penalties. Also, no one who is seeking medical help for an overdose will be charged with drug crimes solely on the basis of that status - even though one might infer that they had to have possessed significant amounts of a drug in order to overdose. The law puts the person’s well-being first.

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CT defense lawyerWe live in a volatile age at this point in time, with beliefs that might once have been restricted to private circles finding a place in the open, right in the middle of our national discourse. While free speech should be protected, there must also be limits on what others can say and do without repercussions, and this rationale is what gives rise to hate crime laws. Connecticut’s is fairly specific and strict, aiming to protect marginalized people from crimes based solely on their innate characteristics. If you worry that you have committed a hate crime, you may face some serious penalties based on one bad decision.

“Actual Or Perceived” Characteristics Protected

Every state’s hate crime laws list characteristics protected from harassment or intimidation under its aegis. Connecticut’s primary hate crime law prohibits causing physical injury based on an intent to discriminate or harass based on “actual or perceived” race, religion, disability, sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. In other words, if you have been the aggressor in an attack on someone, and it was based on one of the listed characteristics, you may have committed a hate crime.

It is also worth noting that your victim does not necessarily have to be a member of any of the listed marginalized communities for you to have committed a hate crime - for example, if you attack or harm someone based on homophobia, it does not matter whether the victim is actually a part of the LGBTQ+ community or not. The prosecution will argue that your intent was still malicious and motivated by a protected characteristic, so they can still be charged.

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CT defense lawyerWhen you have been convicted of a crime in Connecticut, you must face the consequences. However, if it is your first brush with the law, or if your conviction is for a crime that is neither particularly violent nor sexual, you may be eligible for a consequence called pretrial diversion. Pretrial diversion programs are meant for those with low-level convictions, designed to try and help people learn from their mistakes instead of skipping right to punitive measures. Contacting an attorney to see if you are eligible may be a good move.

For Lower-Level Crimes

Pretrial diversion programs use several different techniques to try and guide offenders onto a better path, including counseling, community services, drug treatment, and random testing, and education. Those who have been convicted of relatively minor crimes like public drunkenness, criminal mischief, or simple marijuana possession (possession of a small amount of marijuana, with no intent to distribute) can have their record expunged if they complete the program satisfactorily.

Pretrial diversion is also a common sentence given to juvenile defendants, whose offenses are, by law, lesser than most crimes in adult court. Juvenile court, as a rule, is a place where sentences are not punitive, because juvenile defendants are seen to be the most deserving of second chances. (If a juvenile commits a serious offense, their case is usually removed to adult court.) The outcome is largely the same for juveniles who successfully complete a pretrial diversion program, though as long as they do not re-offend, juvenile records are automatically expunged once the person reaches age 21.

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CTdefense lawyerSome young people make bad choices and wind up with a criminal record, which can, in turn, cause them serious problems later in life. However, in Connecticut, it is often possible for juveniles to have their criminal records expunged, meaning that all (or most) of the offenses will be erased as if they had never existed. That said, not every juvenile record is eligible for expungement or sealing, and it is important that you be able to understand the options that you and your child may face.

Three Routes Through The Legal System

Whether or not your child’s record can be expunged will largely depend on how the offense or offenses were disposed of by the Connecticut legal system. Your child will be assessed under one of three categories in the legal system, depending on the offense they have committed. They may have their case adjudicated in juvenile court, where they will be referred to as a juvenile offender; they may have their case removed to adult court and receive special “youthful offender” protections, or they can, if the offense is deemed serious enough, be tried as an adult, and have to navigate the court system as any other adult would.

Each of these three categories can lead to a different outcome in terms of having one’s record expunged. A juvenile offender is not technically convicted of a crime; rather, they are adjudicated delinquent, and unless they commit further crimes requiring the supervision of the juvenile justice system (generally the Superior Court or the Department of Children and Family Services), those delinquencies can be erased automatically after two years. Juveniles are generally seen to merit the most second chances.

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CT defense lawyerAs with any other drug, being charged with possession of marijuana can lead to serious consequences even if you do not wind up serving jail time. A drug conviction on your record can lead to problems in life, especially for juveniles, so if you have been arrested and charged with possession, it is crucial to try and find an experienced attorney who can help you have the best chance possible at proving your innocence.

There Are Still Consequences

While it is true that possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized - if you are stopped with less than one ounce of a “cannabis-like substance,” you will have committed a civil infraction, rather than a crime - this does not apply to amounts over one ounce. If you are stopped with between one and four ounces, this is a misdemeanor charge, but any amount over four ounces is a felony, even on a first offense. Even the lowest level felony can lead to fines of up to $5,000 and up to 10 years in jail.

However, even possessing less than one ounce of marijuana opens one up to potential consequences. A first offense results in a $150 fine, with a second and third costing $500. After two convictions for this type of infraction, the court then has the legal authority to order you into a drug treatment program. This can be a mixed blessing, as you cannot be ordered to jail for civil infractions, but drug treatment and other diversions can cause problems at work or at home.

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

CT defense lawyerThere are several different types of theft crimes in Connecticut, from simple larceny to embezzlement to shoplifting. However, there are certain types of theft crimes that differ in their execution from more simple acts - robbery being the most potentially remarkable. Unlike most other theft crimes, robbery has an element of force to it that can lead to violence. If you have been charged with robbery or other home invasion crimes, you need an experienced attorney on your side to guide you through the process.

Many Factors to Consider

Robbery is defined as a person in the process of committing larceny either using or threatening to use force for two possible purposes: (1) demanding or threatening someone so they provide the property sought, and/or (2) preventing anyone from trying to stop the larceny in progress. For example, a person who steals money from a convenience store cash register without anyone noticing has committed larceny, but a person who holds a gun on the clerk and demands the money has committed robbery, because of the use of force.

The potential penalties for robbery are quite severe, though sentences may fluctuate based on different factors that might or might not be present in the specific case. For example, if someone has a prior criminal record, their sentence might be enhanced by that factor. Even the lowest category of robbery, however, still carries up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine, with the highest degree possibly carrying a 20-year jail term. Every case is different, which is why an experienced attorney is crucial to have on your side.

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CT defense lawyerDomestic violence is a serious crime with serious consequences, and those who engage in it often find themselves with ruined reputations and derailed lives. However, it is not impossible for those who are innocent to be faced with the same consequences, even though they are not guilty. Mistakes happen in investigations, or in rare cases, a malicious spouse may try to smear the other - no matter what the cause if you have been charged with domestic violence in Connecticut, you need an attorney who will act fast to get at the truth.

Not a Separate Crime

Connecticut does not classify ‘domestic violence’ as a separate crime; instead, ‘domestic’ or ‘family’ violence is charged as whatever specific crime occurred (such as battery or sexual assault), just against a family member - there are differences in the prosecution of such a case, but the end sentence if convicted is generally similar. In addition, the definition of ‘family member’ in Connecticut is very wide, covering not only blood family but also spouses, former spouses, co-parents, roommates, and many other classifications.

Domestic violence-related crimes are handled by the Family Relations Division of the Superior Court of Connecticut, and are often dealt with very quickly because in many cases, time is of the essence - a violent spouse or ex-spouse may have the intent to harm the other, and bringing the case before a judge as quickly as possible means that a protective order or a restraining order can be issued just as quickly.

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CT defense lawyerViolence is never the answer unless in self-defense. Sometimes, though, things simply happen, and you wind up in the very serious situation of being charged with a violent crime in Connecticut. Violent crimes are the most harshly punished in the state, and even if the victim survives, you may face an extremely severe penalty including years in prison. If you have been charged with a violent crime, you need an experienced attorney on your side as soon as possible.

Violent Crime Receives Stiff Penalties

There are many, many different types of violent crimes, and they come in two types. One type is inherently violent - for example, murder requires violence and bodily harm to be successfully completed. The other type is conditionally violent - an example would be a robbery, which does not necessarily have to involve violence unless the perpetrator wants it to, or finds it necessary. Intent does matter in many crimes, but not all; you would generally be punished for the commission of a violent crime as long as it can be proven that you did so, but demonstrated intent might push your sentence into a higher bracket, so to speak.

Any offense involving bodily harm done to another person will fall under the umbrella of violent crime, but the sentences for such crimes will vary significantly. Crimes involving accidental or incidental violence will often mandate lower sentences than a deliberately violent crime - for example, a conviction in a murder where the victim was less than 16 years old triggers an automatic life sentence, with no possibility of parole, while robberies, which require intimidation but not necessarily violence, can lead to sentences as low as 1 year in prison.

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CT defense attorneyIn many communities, vandalism and minor property crimes, referred to as criminal mischief in Connecticut, are essentially considered a rite of passage for young men and women. However, law enforcement can and does take these offenses very seriously, especially if the amount of property damage is significant. If your child has been arrested for criminal mischief, you need to engage an attorney who understands the nature of both Connecticut’s juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.

Different Levels of Severity

Connecticut criminal mischief laws are designed to encompass a variety of crimes designed to damage property. The state statute covers not only classic property damage and vandalism, but also intentionally causing an interruption of services such as electricity and otherwise interfering with equipment or property belonging to a utility. Like with many different crimes in Connecticut, there are different degrees of criminal mischief, and the charge will depend on the level of damage caused by your child.

In adult court, the consequences for criminal mischief can vary from 3 months in jail up to 5 years, with fines ranging between $500 and $2,000. Intent is a major issue - you cannot ‘accidentally’ commit vandalism or criminal mischief. One may accidentally cause property damage, but if the damage is accidental, then by definition, no crime has been committed. Essentially, if the prosecution cannot establish that you had intent to cause the damage, they have little to no case.

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CT defense attorneyWhen someone drives under the influence, they endanger themselves and everyone around them. However, a first-time DUI offender, while still behaving recklessly, is more likely to have simply made a mistake than to have engaged in any pattern of consciously reckless behavior, and may have no idea how to negotiate the legal process after being charged with a DUI. If you are in this situation, an experienced attorney can be of help in guiding you through.

Criminal and Administrative Consequences

Connecticut’s DUI law states that it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content over 0.08 (for most drivers; for juveniles, the limit is lower). Criminal charges and administrative processes both start at the time a person is charged with driving under the influence. In addition to whatever criminal charges the state decides to bring against a driver, the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles also automatically starts proceedings that may wind up with your license suspended, or with an ignition interlock placed on your vehicle.

It can be confusing for first-time offenders, in particular, to understand that both criminal and administrative consequences can result from the same action. However, driving under the influence is seen as such a potentially serious offense that a mere license suspension, or a mere fine, is not considered sufficient punishment. The Connecticut legislature has balanced the two so as to be more certain that the punishment fits the crime.

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CT defense lawyerAt common law, assault was the crime of threatening or menacing someone into believing they are about to be harmed. However, in Connecticut, the definition actually requires physical contact and can be tried as a misdemeanor or a felony. If you have been charged with assault, you need an experienced attorney on your side to help ensure that your rights are protected in court.

Several Degrees

Assault in Connecticut can be charged in three different degrees, as of current law, with the specific choice of charge being affected by the severity of the incident. For example, if you cause bodily harm to someone with the intent to hurt them (as opposed to having intent to kill), you would likely be charged with third-degree assault, a Class A misdemeanor. Comparatively, if you cause serious physical injury to someone with intent (or with extreme recklessness), you would most likely be charged with first-degree assault, which is a Class B felony.

In Connecticut, you might also be charged with aggravated assault, which is an enhancement to an assault charge, rather than an individual charge on its own. In other words, a person will be charged with assault, but if they allegedly committed assault with ‘aggravating factors’ (such as, say, the use of a weapon, or the victim being a vulnerable person such as a disabled or elderly person), their charge may be ‘enhanced’ to aggravated assault. Aggravated assault carries stiffer penalties than a standard assault charge.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shoplift_20191102-040045_1.jpgShoplifting is an all too common crime, but just because it occurs regularly does not mean that law enforcement does not take it seriously. If you have been arrested and charged with shoplifting, you need an experienced attorney on your side to make sure that your rights are protected. Having any kind of charge on your record can cause problems for you later on down the road.

Dollar Amount Matters

Shoplifting falls under Connecticut’s larceny law, in which ‘larceny’ is used as an umbrella term to cover many different theft crimes. Its rough definition is when someone intentionally takes items from a store or other ‘mercantile establishment’ without intending on paying the advertised price for the goods. It can be confusing to some, but if you have been charged with a theft crime, the charge will likely be larceny, even though it is technically a more specific offense.

The value of the goods that are taken usually determines the severity of the charge - there are six different degrees of larceny, with varying degrees of fines and jail time possible. The most common arrests for these types of crimes are the misdemeanor offenses; fourth, fifth and sixth-degree larceny charges do not yield much jail time - less than one year - but the fines can add up, as well as having to comply with any other type of restriction placed on you by the court.

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Posted on in Sex Crimes

CT defense lawyerBeing the victim of a sex crime is one of the most devastating events that can happen to a person. However, being accused of a sex crime that you did not commit can be a terrifying process that can essentially ruin lives. If you are in that position, it is absolutely critical to engage an experienced Stamford sex crimes defense attorney who understands the stakes of your situation.

Different Degrees

Sex crimes in Connecticut run the gamut from Class B misdemeanors to Class A felonies, and they can require varying degrees of intent. Generally, the degree charged will be higher the more evidence of force is present. For example, if someone engages in a sexual act with someone who is legally ineligible to consent, but without force, they will likely be charged with sexual assault in the fourth degree, but if they engage in sex while using force, they will be charged with third-degree assault, or possibly rape, which is sexual assault in the first degree.

Other crimes that are classified as sex crimes include prostitution, pandering, any kind of obscenity with a minor such as child pornography, and any other crime that can be shown to be sexual in nature. Sentences will vary depending on whether or not any penetrative contact happened, and also if there was any type of aggravating factor, such as a weapon or if the crime was committed against a vulnerable person such as a child or an elderly person.

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<pCT defense lawyerWhile Connecticut is known for having decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana at a relatively early point in time, many tend to forget that the state’s law on possession of harder drugs is just as severe as that of any other. Drugs like cocaine and heroin are in a different medical classification group than marijuana, and the effect of possession and use on the public good is far worse. If you have been caught with harder drugs than marijuana, you definitely need to contact an experienced attorney to help you.

Possession and Intent to Distribute

Connecticut law recognizes two types of drug possession crimes - simple possession, and possession with intent to distribute. While intent to distribute is a crime carrying a long jail term, simple possession of hard drugs is still seen as a serious offense even if there is no intent to sell visible. This is because hard drugs have been documented to cause not acute harm not only to users, but to those around them as well. This idea of wanting to protect society, in general, is referred to as public policy, and drug offenses are often referred to as public policy crimes.

State law bars possession of any “narcotic, hallucinogenic or other controlled substance,” unless the person can produce a valid prescription for the substance from a doctor. If someone is caught with these drugs, the penalties can be quite severe because of the public policy considerations - for example, possession of heroin, even as a first offense, can lead to a jail term of up to seven years, plus a $50,000 fine. This is true even of simple possession - the rationale is that the state’s interests in ensuring the health and well-being of its citizens (as much as possible) warrants severe consequences for anyone bringing drugs into the community.

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CT defense lawyerNormally, when someone is arrested and charged with a criminal offense, the only way to end that process is either with an acquittal, a conviction, or a plea-bargain. There is another way that your trial can end, though you do not necessarily get to choose it. It is called taking a “nolle prosequi” or “nolle prosse,” and it will not necessarily be offered to you, so if it is, you need to understand exactly what is being offered before consenting.

Not a Dismissal

A nolle prosequi or nolle prosse, sometimes shortened to just a “nolle,” is a legal term that means “unwilling to prosecute” in Latin. It essentially serves as an implicit admission that the charges against a person cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt because if they could, the prosecutor would want to move forward with the case in all but the rarest situations. In most cases, a nolle prosse will result in the charged person being given probation or otherwise ordered to refrain from any kind of lawbreaking for a certain period of time.

Many are under the misapprehension that a nolle is the same as a dismissal, and in reality, there are very important distinctions. A dismissal means that the charges were dropped with no strings attached, and no further required interaction with the court or police. A nolle, at least in Connecticut, means that your arrest records will not be erased until 13 months have passed without you running afoul of the law. The law actually gives the prosecutor the right to reopen the case and re-prosecute at their sole discretion - in other words, you are still on the proverbial hook until 13 months have passed. (Reopening is rare, but not unheard of.)

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CT defense lawyerDomestic violence is a crime that justifiably carries quite a lot of social stigma, in addition to the potentially serious criminal penalties. However, it is very easy for a disagreement to spiral out of control, or for a word or gesture to be misunderstood. If you have been charged with domestic violence, it is critical that your side of the story be told. Enlisting an experienced Connecticut domestic violence attorney can ensure your rights are protected.

Connecticut Definition Is Expansive

Historically domestic violence or family violence was a charge confined to violence between spouses or involving a parent and child. However, Connecticut law explicitly includes multiple categories of relationships as falling under this law, including spouses and former spouses, “persons related by blood or marriage,” roommates, co-parents (whether or not they live together or have been married), and people in dating relationships. The intent is simply to protect as many people as possible.

The law does specifically exclude acts by parents intended to discipline minor children unless those acts constitute abuse. Also, verbal abuse does not count as domestic violence unless there is “present danger” and the “likelihood” that physical violence will occur. This can be a very difficult thing to interpret, and because domestic violence is such a serious crime, very often peace officers may err on the side of caution and arrest a person to hedge their bets, so to speak, or because they feel they have to arrest someone.

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

Multiple Theft Crimes

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

Other examples of Connecticut theft crimes include:

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CT defense lawyerViolent crime does happen in Connecticut, contrary to the beliefs of many people, with the state rate roughly mirroring the national numbers. However, what many do not understand is that not all violent crime is the result of unbridled malice or evil actions. If you have been charged with a violent crime like assault and battery or murder, you have the right to a good defense, and you have the right to seek legal help that can ensure you have your fair day in court.

Remain Silent

If you have been held in connection with a violent crime, it is imperative to exercise your right to remain silent whenever possible. Many people in such a position may say something off the cuff or not understand their rights when they are read (or, in rare cases, their rights may not be read to them), and anything they say can be used against them in court, just as every Miranda warning one sees on television makes clear. Do not give law enforcement any opportunity to misunderstand or use your own words against you.

It is important to keep in mind that you do not even need to wait for formal charges before retaining an attorney. The criminal justice system can be quite complex and it is easy to make errors in procedure that can cost you - having an experienced attorney on your side can ensure your rights are protected, as very often, prosecutors and police may try to cut procedural corners in trying to secure an arrest and conviction. Sometimes this is unintentional, and sometimes it is not, but either way, you have the right to have someone on your side sticking up for your rights.

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