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CT defense lawyerConnecticut has a very wide-ranging larceny statute, that encompasses quite a few different theft crimes, including retail theft (shoplifting) and embezzlement. Because the statute is so broad, it can seem a bit overwhelming to those charged with a larceny crime, but in truth, the law is usually more simple than it appears. If you have been charged with larceny, understanding the specifics of the law and what you might be facing can help demystify the process.

The Umbrella Is Wide

Connecticut law defines larceny as having the intent to either permanently deprive another person of property, or to appropriate it for themselves, and physically taking or withholding that property from its rightful owner. While other states specifically define different theft crimes like extortion or embezzlement under their own statutes, Connecticut classifies them all as theft crimes, under the wide umbrella of larceny. In other words, the law defines each theft crime as being a type of larceny, rather than as specific and individual crimes.

The key part of a larceny charge is intent - if the state cannot prove that you intended to permanently retain another person’s property, they have not proven all the elements of their case, and it is not always easy to illustrate intent one way or the other. This is a very common defense that is offered in cases that involve theft from a private person or entity; a defendant can argue that they merely borrowed the property and intended to return it.

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CT defense lawyerAssault is a serious crime, and being charged with first-degree assault means that your alleged actions were extremely serious. However, every case has multiple sides to it, and you are entitled to a good defense so that you are able to tell your story. Contacting an experienced criminal lawyer can help ensure you have the best chance to keep the record straight.

Charges Depend on Severity

There are three different degrees of assault under Connecticut law, with third-degree assault being a Class A misdemeanor, second being a Class D felony, and first-degree being a Class B felony. Which degree is charged largely depends on three factors: the severity of the harm, the intent of the attacker, and the identity of the victim (certain victim classifications, such as being elderly, pregnant, or disabled, will raise the charge or add time at sentencing). The presence or absence of a weapon can also make a difference.

There are several different ways that someone can be tried for first-degree assault - in other words, many different fact patterns will qualify for such a charge. Production of an injury to another person via the use of a firearm (or other dangerous instrument or deadly weapon), intent to produce serious or permanent disfigurement to another person, and reckless conduct capable of causing death that ultimately causes severe harm are all examples of fact patterns that will yield a charge in the first degree.

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CT defense lawyerIn most U.S. states, it is illegal for someone to consume alcohol and then operate a motor vehicle, and it is also illegal for anyone in the vehicle to have an open container of alcohol. Connecticut is one of the few states where the laws on open containers differ, and this can lead to confusion for drivers, especially those from out of state. Failure to understand Connecticut law can lead to being arrested for driving under the influence, and this is obviously an outcome that most people want to avoid.

No Real Open Container Law

As of this writing, 40 U.S. states have laws prohibiting open containers of alcohol in vehicles. Connecticut, however, is not one of them - in most situations, passengers who are over the legal drinking age of 21 are permitted to have alcohol in a vehicle and even drink from the open container. Connecticut law prohibits consumption of alcohol “while operating a motor vehicle” - but if one is not operating the vehicle, the law is lax. Some local ordinances do ban open containers entirely, but state law does not.

There may be consequences for drivers who are under 21 whose passengers drink alcohol in the car, but these would stem from their age, rather than any consumption. A police officer can charge an underage driver with a violation if there is alcohol in their car if they believe the driver knew or had reason to know of its presence, which can lead to a license suspension. However, this can be difficult to prove, depending on the specific facts of the case.

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CT defense lawyerWhen an individual is charged with a crime, there are other questions to ask beyond guilt or innocence, particularly if that individual is not a U.S. citizen. Criminal cases that can make a difference in a person’s immigration status are referred to as ‘crimmigration’ cases, and if you have been arrested and charged with a crime that could get you deported, you need both an immigration attorney and a criminal attorney who understands the possibilities and the dangers involved in this type of case.

Crimes of Moral Turpitude and Aggravated Felonies

Immigration law has its own classification for crimes, which can sometimes be almost totally divorced from the standard criminal law classification. If you are convicted of a crime, it is important to ensure that the crime is not contained in either one of two categories: crimes of moral turpitude (CIMTs) or aggravated felonies (AFs). A CIMT has no specific definition in U.S. immigration law, but it has been defined in various cases as an action that shocks the public conscience or is otherwise so “inherently base, vile or depraved” that it must necessarily show the person has bad moral character.

An aggravated felony is even less well defined - the Immigration & Nationality Act (INA) merely lists several crimes that can be considered AFs, though many of them would, confusingly, be misdemeanors under state law. As a result of these misleading classifications, many criminal defendants will often plead to what they think is a lesser charge, when in reality, it may have the same or even worse immigration consequences than the crime they were originally charged with.

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CT defense lawyerVery often, shoplifting gets painted as a crime perpetrated by juveniles or others who do it to test limits. However, sometimes there are mental health-related reasons why a person might shoplift, or sometimes, the entire episode may genuinely be a mistake or a misunderstanding. If you have been charged with shoplifting, speaking to a knowledgeable attorney may help in the whole matter being resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

Serious Consequences

The penalties for shoplifting tend to vary with the value of the items stolen. If you steal items whose total adds up to $500 or less, you will be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, where the penalty is anywhere up to 1 year in jail, plus fines and costs. Comparatively, if you steal items worth over $20,000, you are guilty of a Class B felony, which may be punishable with up to 20 years in jail, plus a $15,000 fine. Some charges, especially those which carry misdemeanor sentences, may be plea-bargained or you may be granted the right to complete a pretrial diversion program, especially if this is a first offense. However, those whose thefts are expensive enough to be charged as felonies may face serious time.

In addition to any consequences imposed by the state, Connecticut law also allows the business where the shoplifting took place to seek restitution and other costs from you in a civil proceeding. Businesses are allowed to seek reasonable recompense from shoplifters, such as covering the costs of copying tapes and other evidence for trial, as well as replenishing any stock or any costs incurred in security measures (even the costs of arresting you).

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CT defense lawyerUnderage drinking is a problem in the United States. It is easy for young people to glamorize the practice, but in reality, it can lead to legal trouble, injuries, and even deaths, especially among the type of young person who fancies themselves immortal. Because of this, Connecticut has passed what it calls the Social Host Law. Under the law, parents can be held liable for episodes of underage drinking that occur in their house. Yet many parents remain unaware of this until it is too late.

Two Categories

A social hosting offense can either be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the parents’ role in the events in question. If the parents were present and knowingly, actively provided alcohol to minors, they will generally be charged with a Class E felony - the relevant statute bars anyone from “sell[ing], ship[ping], deliver[ing] or giv[ing]” alcohol to a minor, and a guilty verdict will mean a fine of up to $3,500 and a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months. While a first offense may yield a lesser sentence, banking on this possibility is an extremely bad idea.

By comparison, parents whose house is used for underage drinking with their knowledge (or it is found that they should have known), and/or failing to try to either stop the use of alcohol or break up the party altogether, will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which can carry up to a year in jail as a sentence, even for a first offense. Even more serious consequences can be forthcoming if children under age 16 were present during an underage drinking situation. Many times, people think that a misdemeanor is somehow not a serious offense, and with a social hosting case, this is just not accurate.

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CT defense lawyerCrime evolves right along with law enforcement, utilizing technology and its convenience to commit more offenses. In perhaps the last 30 years, computer-based crimes have become more and more common, creating a need for new laws and different types of enforcement. However, sometimes people with no criminal intent can get caught up in the dragnet. If you have been arrested and charged with a computer crime, you need an experienced Stamford criminal defense attorney to help get you through the process.

Many Different Types

A general computer crime statute exists in Connecticut, covering several possible offenses, including misuse of a computer system, unauthorized access to a computer system, and intentional disruption or denial of computer services. However, computer crimes are somewhat unique in that these are very rarely charged as isolated offenses. They will often be charged in connection with another crime - for example, the use of a computer to harass or threaten another person is still technically a computer crime, despite the fact that harassment can be done without the use of technology.

While the laws surrounding many other offenses also may provide for a civil cause of action, no specific computer crime-related one exists in Connecticut law. If a person believes there may be grounds for a civil lawsuit against the alleged perpetrator, the recommended course of action is to bring suit under the overarching legal theory (for example, if a person was cyberbullied, they would likely bring a civil suit alleging harassment).

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CT  defense lawyerThere are several types of infractions for which your driver’s license may be suspended. This may seem like a blow it would be impossible to recover from, given that the majority of people drive to work, to their obligations, their appointments, and so on. However, it is very possible to get your license reinstated, or in some rare cases, not to lose it in the first place, depending on the type of offense you are convicted of or held liable for.

Unusual Procedure for DUIs

Connecticut has a somewhat unusual procedure for handling alleged driving while intoxicated (DUI) offenses - the criminal case in court, and the administrative license suspension hearing, which is headed by an administrative law judge (ALJ). This is because there are currently more than 20 offenses in Connecticut law which may be punishable by license suspension, and it is more efficient to simply conduct all proceedings of this type through an ALJ. It is possible, if unlikely, to prevail in your court case and still lose your driver’s license, and it is possible, if unlikely, to be convicted of DUI while retaining your license, depending on how each proceeding goes.

Connecticut law provides for a license suspension in connection with the DUI itself, but a refusal to consent to sobriety testing can also be grounds for a suspension. DUI mandates a suspension of at least 1 year for a first-time DUI, going up until a permanent revocation of a driver’s license upon the third offense. Refusal to take sobriety tests will yield different punishments for those under and over 21; for those under adult age, the penalties are between one and five years’ license suspension depending on blood alcohol level, while those over 21 will see suspensions between six months and two years, six months, again dependent on blood alcohol level and number of offenses.

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CT defense lawyerMany parents tend to look past teenage misbehavior as mere pranks, or “boys-will-be-boys” type of hijinks. In reality, young adults can be charged with serious crimes if their behavior warrants it, and the penalties can be severe. If your child has been charged with a crime, it is important that you seek out a Stamford juvenile justice lawyer who is experienced with handling these types of matters.

Juvenile vs. Adult Court

The idea of your child being charged with a crime can be quite distressing to a parent, and it should be taken seriously. However, if your child is charged as a juvenile, it is important to keep in mind that the system is very different than it would be for an adult. Juveniles are not convicted of crimes unless charged as adults; rather, they are ‘adjudicated delinquent.’ Generally, the juvenile system is seen as much more rehabilitative than the punishing adult court system; most offenses are seen as learning opportunities rather than strikes that should haunt a young adult for life.

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CT defense lawyerIn this country, a person is innocent of a crime until they are proven guilty, and they are entitled to a chance to defend themselves from charges. Defendants have rights, and if you have been charged with a crime, you need a Connecticut criminal defense attorney who will fight to protect yours.

Even Innocent People May Need Attorneys

In today’s United States, the criminal justice system can be an intimidating place, especially if you are innocent of the crime you have been charged with. While it is rare to find yourself faced with outright malice from police or prosecutors, it is sadly not uncommon to find an error on their part, which can sometimes put an innocent person in the proverbial crosshairs. Extreme examples have put innocent people behind bars - though none have occurred in Connecticut, there have been hundreds of exonerations of innocent people wrongfully convicted in 37 states since the 1970s.

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Posted on in Sex Crimes

CT defense lawyerNot every rape allegation is true. But every rape allegation is taken seriously, which is why you need an experienced defense attorney if you are charged with committing rape. The following includes nine things you need to know when facing rape charges in Connecticut:

  • It is rape if you force someone to have sex with you. Both parties must willingly consent in order for sex to be consensual. Consent is always a defense to a rape charge (and to other sexual assault charges);
  • It is called forcible rape if the offender uses a weapon or threatens to use a weapon;
  • Rape is a felony offense punishable by at least 10 years in prison. Offenders face an even longer prison sentence if the victim is under 16 years old. An experienced attorney can explain the potential consequences of the crime you have been charged with;
  • The age of consent in Connecticut is 16 years old. This means that anyone younger than 16 is not legally capable of consenting to sexual relations. You can be charged with statutory rape for having sex with someone who is not old enough to consent under state law. However, the criminality of the offense also depends on how old the alleged perpetrator is;
  • It is illegal to have sex with anyone who is mentally incapable of consenting (because of mental disability, disease or intoxication);
  • It can be rape even if the two parties are married. Spouses cannot force their partners to have sex with them. Consent is required no matter the relationship between the parties;
  • Unfortunately, a rape prosecution often turns into a “she said, he said” routine. It is difficult to prove or disprove rape charges when it is one person’s word against the other. The defense can use communications between the alleged victim and perpetrator (like text messages) to prove consent. Both communications before and after the alleged rape can be relevant. Other useful evidence includes DNA and witness statements;
  • Evidence can be excluded from trial if it is not gathered properly. This could help or hurt your defense, depending on what the particular evidence is. Similarly, the charges against you could be dropped entirely if your rights were violated during the arrest or if the evidence is somehow tainted. An experienced attorney can help protect your legal rights; and
  • A rape conviction can affect your future job prospects and your community life. Most likely you will have to list any felony convictions on job applications and you will be publicly registered as a sex offender.

Let Us Help You with Your Case

Please contact the experienced dedicated Stamford rape defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner today if you are charged with committing rape. This is a very serious charge, and you need an experienced to assist you with your case.

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Posted on in Theft and Property Crimes

CT defense lawyerIn July 2018, Stamford police received reports of two stolen cars in the Ridges neighborhood (the calls were two hours apart). Police apprehended the suspect driving the second car and charged him with reckless driving, driving without a license, and first-degree larceny, among other offenses.

What Is Larceny?

Larceny is a type of property crime. Under Connecticut law, a person commits larceny when “he wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds” property from its owner. The accused must have “intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or a third person.”

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CT defense lawyerWe hear stories about credit card breaches all the time. That’s why more than two-thirds of consumers are concerned about fraud. You should also be concerned if you are charged with committing a credit card crime, because these are serious offenses in Connecticut. Here are two examples:

  • Credit card theft and fraud. Anyone who takes another person’s credit card without their consent with the intent to use or sell it is guilty of credit card theft. Offenders can spend up to five years in jail and pay a $5,000 fine. Anyone who obtains a credit card as security for debt with the intent to defraud is also subject to these penalties; and
  • Illegal use of credit card. Anyone who uses a credit card knowing it is forged, expired, or revoked, or who pretends to be the holder of a credit card that hasn’t actually been issued, is guilty of illegal use of a credit card. This is a misdemeanor if the value of goods obtained with the card doesn’t exceed $500. Offenders can spend up to five years in jail and pay a $5,000 fine.

The difference between credit card theft and illegal use of a credit card is that the first punishes people who illegally obtain credit cards, and the other punishes people who illegally use credit cards.

Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if you’re arrested for these offenses or any type of credit card-related crime.

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Posted on in Sex Crimes

CT defense lawyerSex crimes are some of the most serious offenses in Connecticut. In addition to criminal penalties like jail time, convicted sex offenders may be put on the state’s sex offender registry -- public information that can affect your ability to get a job. Even being accused of a sex crime can negatively affect your life.

What Is Considered a Sex Crime in Connecticut?

There are various sexual acts that are considered criminal offenses. Sex crimes in Connecticut include:

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CT defense attorneyIt is illegal to drive recklessly in Connecticut. Reckless driving “requires a conscious choice of action either with knowledge of the serious danger to others involved in it or with knowledge of facts which would disclose this danger to a reasonable” person.

While speeding and driving under the influence might not by themselves constitute reckless driving, they can contribute to a reckless driving charge. However, if the vehicle speed is so fast that it endangers another person’s life, then that alone is considered reckless. Driving faster than 85 miles per hour generally falls into that category. Tailgating (following another car too closely) is another example of reckless driving.

The punishment for reckless driving is:

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CT defense lawyerConnecticut takes drug possession, possession with intent to sell, and other drug offenses very seriously, which is why you need an experienced defense attorney if you are charged with any drug-related offense.

In fact, a few years ago Connecticut increased the penalties for selling drugs. Here are a few things you need to know about possession with intent to sell:

  • You do not have to be caught in the act of selling drugs to be charged with possession with intent to sell (PWITS). You can also be charged with PWITS if found with large amounts of drugs in your possession and distribution materials like plastic bags with logos on them.
  • First-time offenders convicted of PWITS a hallucinogenic substance (other than marijuana) or a narcotic substance face up to 15 years of jail time and/or a $50,000 fine.
  • Second-time offenders face up to 30 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.
  • Each additional offense carries another 30-year term and/or a $250,000 fine.
  • There are different penalties for PWITS marijuana. First-time offenders face up to seven years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine. Each subsequent offense carries up to 15 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.
  • There are no mandatory minimum jail sentences, only maximums.

An experienced defense attorney can help fight these charges and achieve the lowest sentence possible. For example, it may help your case if you are participating in a drug rehabilitation program.

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CT DUI attorneyDrunk driving is a serious problem in Connecticut’s Fairfield County. According to a 2017 study conducted by 24/7 Wall St., more than one in five adults drinks excessively in the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area. Such drinking habits likely contribute to the fact that more than one-third of the area’s roadway fatalities involve alcohol, which is higher than both the state and national average.

It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in Connecticut with an elevated blood alcohol content. The limit is 0.08%, except for commercial truck drivers, whose limit is 0.04%. A DUI conviction carries the following types of penalties:

  1. Jail time. First offenders may spend up to six months in jail. Offenders convicted for a second time within a 10-year period face jail time up to two years. A third or subsequent offense means up to three years in prison.

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Connecticut defense lawyerIf you have been charged with a second, third, or subsequent DUI or DWI in Connecticut, you face very harsh penalties with regard to your personal freedom, finances, reputation, and driving privileges. Alcohol, as you are likely aware if you have previously been convicted of DUI or DWI, is a common source of problems in both the state and nation at large. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), over 25% of people ages 18 and over reported that they engaged in binge drinking the past month.

Over 15 million adults in the U.S. alone have alcohol use disorder, and every year an estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes. The economic cost of alcohol misuse is staggering – running at 249 billion annually in the U.S. When it comes to alcohol misuse and Connecticut’s roads and highways, the state has little tolerance for those who drink and drive – especially after already having a DUI or DWI conviction.

Penalties for a Repeat DUI Conviction in Connecticut

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Connecticut defense lawyerWhen a car accident involves a fatality in Connecticut, a driver may be charged with vehicular manslaughter or negligent homicide with a motor vehicle. These are serious charges – each prosecutable as a felony – and serious penalties including a lengthy prison sentence and a five-figure fine may be imposed upon conviction. As such, the incentive for a criminal defendant facing either charge to mount the strongest possible legal defense could not be greater.

The Presence of Alcohol or Drugs Is Relevant to Charges Related to a Fatal Accident

In Connecticut, vehicular manslaughter is a type of second-degree manslaughter. Under Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-56b, a person commits second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle when he or she “1) operates a motor vehicle under the influence of liquor drugs, or both and 2) causes the death of another due to the effect of the liquor or drugs.”

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Connecticut defense lawyerIn Connecticut, as in every other state, alcohol is not the only substance that can lead to a DUI charge. Driving while under the influence of drugs, whether illicit or a lawful prescription, may also result in a Connecticut DUI or DWI charge. Importantly, the penalties for a prescription drug-related DUI conviction are no different than those for a traditional, alcohol-based DUI. This is because the duty of safe driving is at issue. All drivers owe this duty to one another, and when one driver endangers another while under the influence, the nature of influencing substance is a secondary concern. Certainly, if the substance is illicit, a DUI charge may be coupled with separate drug charges. As for the DUI component, however, the penalties are the same.

Always Read the Label on Your Prescriptions

Even over-the-counter medicines such as cold remedies and antihistamines may cause one to become drowsy or disoriented and, as such, refrain from getting behind the wheel of a car, truck, or other vehicle. Behind-the-counter medications and treatments, only obtainable with the prescription of a physician, may be magnitudes stronger. This is especially the case with pain medication, some of which are derived from opiates – a very powerful class of drug. Because of this, it is critical that you follow the exact orders of the prescribing physician in taking the prescription, including taking time to read the label and understand any side-effects that you may experience. The duty is on you and an officer arresting you for DUI will not sympathetic to surprise prescription side-effect-related explanations.

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