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Posted on in Juvenile Crimes

CT defense lawyerIf your child commits a crime while they are under the age of 17, the offense will generally be handled in juvenile court, which is focused far more on rehabilitation than on punishment. However, sometimes the offense will not be serious enough to be sent to adult court, but serious enough to warrant further supervision. In these cases, the answer is usually to remand the juvenile to detention. This is less common than it used to be, but it will happen in some cases, and if it does, it is important for both you and your child to understand your rights in this situation.

15 Days Max - Usually

Most situations in which a minor is arrested in Connecticut will end in their being released to their parents with a promise to appear in juvenile court in days or weeks. However, if the child has committed a more serious offense, authorities have the option of sending them to juvenile detention until the next business day, when arraignment will usually happen. Unlike in adult court, bail is not required in juvenile court, and minors may not post bail of their own accord, so very often a minor will remain in the detention center until their arraignment.

In all but the rarest cases, the maximum amount of time a juvenile can remain in detention is 15 days. The only time this will be extended is if the juvenile has committed a serious juvenile offense (SJO), which is a crime which may (and frequently must) merit transferring the case to adult court. The list of SJOs include approximately 50 felonies, such as murder, sexual assault, and first-degree robbery, and kidnapping. If your child has been charged with an SJO, the likelihood of them remaining in juvenile detention is quite high even if the case remains in the juvenile court system.

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CT juvenile defense lawyerManson Youth Institute in Cheshire, Connecticut, is a prison for young offenders who have allegedly committed a crime serious enough to wind up in the state’s adult court system. As of July 2019, there were only 43 young boys confined at Manson. This represents a significant change from the historical numbers - in July 2016, 76 were registered, and the number has been dropping for years. If your child is arrested and charged with a crime, you should be aware that the Connecticut penal system has been undergoing changes in the way young defendants are handled.

A General Downward Trend

In the 2007-2008 fiscal year, approximately 1,491 young people under the age of 18 were confined at Manson. That number decreased by approximately 92 percent over the next decade, with 2018’s final figure being 105. This is a hugely positive trend, but there are multiple reasons for the drop in juvenile inmate numbers that may or may not still apply in your child’s case. There are still many cases in which a prosecutor will determine that Manson or a similar secure environment is the best place for your child.

One significant change that came to pass in the decade between the figures is that Connecticut raised the age of adult criminal responsibility (except in cases of serious violent crime like murder or sexual assault) from 16 to 18. Sixteen-year-olds were added back into the juvenile justice system in 2010, and 17-year olds were added back in 2012. This means that 16 and 17-year olds that commit crimes that do not immediately merit transfer to the adult system are more likely to be charged as juveniles.

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CT defense lawyerCountless numbers of children are bullied at school every year, which in turn can play a major role in a host of physical and mental health problems. However, most of the time, bullying does not rise to the level of crime. In the situations where it does, your child will need an attorney who understands the complexities of juvenile law, and who knows how best to ensure that their rights are protected.

Bullying Can Be Serious

Statistics indicate that only around 20 percent of middle and high school students reported being bullied, but almost half of all students in another study reported being bullied at least once within the preceding month. As high as 30 percent of middle school students (aged 11-14, roughly) reported being physically bullied, with examples of pushing, hitting, or slapping being given. Approximately 24 percent reported being on the receiving end of sexual comments or gestures.

Bullying can have devastating consequences, primarily for the victim, but also for the bully. Multiple studies show increased risk for ‘poor school adjustment,’ anxiety, depression, sleep issues and focus problems for victims. Many studies also show that the risk of increased suicidal ideation can occur in both the bully and the bullied. Intervention is critical to safeguard both young people, and hopefully to place the bully on a better path. Sometimes, however, this may not occur until a crime has been committed, and in that case, the consequences must be faced.

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Posted on in Juvenile Crimes

CT defense lawyerWhen a juvenile commits a crime in Connecticut, there are two possible ways the case can be classified. Depending on several factors, including the nature of the offense, a juvenile can either be classified as a juvenile defendant, or as a youthful offender. While these two designations might seem interchangeable, they are not, and it is critical to understand the difference.

Juvenile Defendants

Juvenile defendants are, as one might expect, juveniles - people under the age of 18 who have committed an offense that the prosecutor determines should be prosecuted in juvenile court. They are referred to as juvenile delinquents, rather than defendants; Connecticut’s juvenile courts are much more focused on rehabilitation, especially for first offenders, as opposed to the adult court system that is focused more on punishment. The nature of the offense usually determines whether someone under 18 will be charged as a juvenile or as an adult.

Juvenile defendants are also more likely to be granted a non-judicial outcome in their case, meaning probation or pretrial diversion as opposed to a conviction and sentence. This may seem not harsh enough, for a young person who has allegedly committed a crime, but nonjudicial outcomes are not generally available for those who commit serious offenses. With nonviolent misdemeanors and violations, the state of Connecticut has decided to help young offenders learn rather than punish immediately.

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Posted on in Juvenile Crimes

CT defense lawyerToo many people see petty crime or mischief offenses as part of growing up, especially for young boys and men. However, it is still important not to overlook the potential consequences of committing a crime, and in some cases, the crime may be serious enough to be removed to adult court, with all the attendant consequences. Having an experienced juvenile justice attorney on your side can help smooth out the process while still preserving your child’s rights.

Juvenile Court: More Rehabilitative Than Punitive

In juvenile court, there are two broad categories of offenses that a young person may be charged with: delinquent acts, or serious juvenile offenses. Delinquent acts are defined as the violation of a federal or state law (with exceptions) by a juvenile. Essentially, if the act in question is not defined as a serious juvenile offense, it will generally qualify as a delinquent act. Serious juvenile offenses, by comparison, are specifically laid out in the relevant statute, and if the prosecutor thinks it necessary, allow your child’s case to be removed to adult court.

In most cases where a juvenile is arrested, Connecticut’s justice system has the stated aim of trying to rehabilitate them, rather than solely punish them for their choices. Their young age and (in most cases) lack of life experience are seen as mitigating factors, to some degree, and especially in cases of non-violent crime, many juvenile offenders are offered alternative options to a jail sentence, such as diversion programs or community service.

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CT criminal lawyerOne of a parent’s worst nightmares has to be their child being expelled from school or even just threatened with expulsion. In this day and age, schools are getting tough with discipline, and codes of conduct are far less forgiving than they used to be. However, your child does have certain rights, including the right to contest the expulsion. Having an experienced attorney present at the hearing can help you reach a negotiated outcome that affects your child’s future as little as possible.

Many Grounds for Expulsion

Depending on your school’s code of conduct, there are many different actions that can lead to a sentence of expulsion. Examples include sexual assault or misconduct, cheating or plagiarism, bullying, and possession of alcohol or drugs, though there are many others, depending on the school. Many students do not realize that the code of conduct for their school has the strength of a binding contract - in other words, both sides of the equation must uphold the rules in the code, and if this does not happen, the contract can be severed.

Even though offenses serious enough to warrant an expulsion are very severe, your child does still have rights. One of those is the right to have an attorney lay out the arguments to keep them in school, and to delay an expulsion hearing for up to 10 days in order to find representation. They also do have the right to an alternative education plan in the event of an expulsion, even if that expulsion is permanent. Nonetheless, remaining in school is obviously the preferable option, and being able to make your case persuasively is critical in achieving that goal.

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CT defense lawyerMost of the time, when a young person under a certain age is arrested and charged with a crime, they are charged with that crime as a juvenile, which is different than if they were charged as an adult. However, it is easy to get confused between the juvenile and adult systems in Connecticut, even though it is important to be aware of the differences and the varying potential consequences of charges in each. If you or your child has been charged as an adult when they are legally still a juvenile, it means that the case is a very serious one, and you need all the help you can get on your side.

Rehabilitation vs Punishment

In the United States, the juvenile court system is generally seen as rehabilitative, while the adult court system is seen as more punitive, and there is, unfortunately, truth to this. Juvenile offenders, whether they have been charged with a crime or a status offense (a non-criminal offense, such as being truant or a runaway), are often referred to rehabilitation programs or educational diversions, as opposed to being given jail time or other punitive consequences. Only truly serious juvenile offenses warrant detention and trial, and even at that point, a trial in juvenile court is much more geared toward rehabilitating the accused.

In juvenile court, it is also more likely that you will be able to minimize the potential consequences of the offense, even if you plead guilty or otherwise admit wrongdoing. Connecticut will often handle juvenile cases ‘non-judicially,’ meaning that juvenile offenders will be shunted into pretrial diversion programs or given another type of consequence rather than jail time. Counseling or community service are common options.

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Posted on in Violent Crimes

CT defense lawyerBullying is a serious issue in Connecticut schools. Between 2011-2013, one in six students reported being bullied online, and one in five reported being bullied at school.

Connecticut does not tolerate bullying in schools. Children accused of bullying may face school disciplinary proceedings and, in some cases, criminal charges. Here are a few frequently asked questions about what Connecticut considers bullying and the resulting consequences.

Q: What behaviors are considered bullying in Connecticut schools?

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CT defense attorneyThe criminal justice system treats youth offenders differently than it treats adult offenders. The general rule in Connecticut is that children under 16 years old cannot be held criminally responsible for their actions. However, there are certain exceptions to that rule.

Either way, it can be frightening and confusing if your child is arrested. Our experienced juvenile defense attorneys can explain your legal options and answer any and all questions about the criminal justice process. In fact, here are answers to a few questions that parents frequently ask when their children get in trouble with the law:

Q: When can juveniles be tried as adults in Connecticut?

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Posted on in Juvenile Crimes

Connecticut defense lawyerWhen a juvenile is charged with a crime in Connecticut, the young person will either require juvenile court defense in the state’s juvenile justice system or criminal defense in one the state’s (adult) courts. The difference from one scenario to the other may be pronounced. This is because, with regard to adults, who are presumed to have reached the age of maturity and thusly be fully contemplating intentions, actions, and consequences, the same cannot be said as concerns juveniles. Here, the words “age of maturity” loom large.

Prior to this age (eighteen in the state of Connecticut), juveniles are presumed to still be in a process of cognitive and emotional development, not yet fully contemplating and regulating intentions, actions and thus not deserving of consequences parallel to those meted out in the adult court system. For adults, a governing theory is often that of “retribution,” which is concerning with conduct deterrence through punishment, and with restoring the balance between the individual and society by imposing damages for breaches in the social contract.

For juveniles, however, retribution alone is neither appropriate nor consummate with society’s interests. The state, both in a capital “S” sense (the nation) and a lowercase “s” sense (Connecticut) has an interest in producing productive, moral citizens who will contribute to the greater good rather than function as a drain on economic resources. As such, the juvenile justice system may offer corrective outcomes where the adult court system will simply punish.

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CT defense lawyerIn the months of December and January, many young people in Connecticut experience significant extra free time while on winter break from school. During this time, holiday hijinks or unmonitored social time may sometimes result in a juvenile’s being saddled with criminal charges. Make no mistake, juvenile criminal charges in Connecticut are a serious matter and must be defended against accordingly.

There exists a misconception that everything that happens in life before the age of majority, including juvenile criminal charges, are just magically wiped away at the age of eighteen. This is not the case. While the state’s juvenile justice system is charged with protecting the constitutional and legal rights of minors, it is not reasonable to assume that a juvenile conviction will simply disappear when the juvenile reaches 18 or 21 years of age. As such, it is imperative that a juvenile facing criminal charges in Connecticut be represented by an experienced Fairfield County juvenile criminal defense attorney.

Common Juvenile Criminal Charges in Connecticut

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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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Posted on in Juvenile Crimes

Connecticut defense lawyer, Connecticut juvenile attorneySexting is a newer spin on the age-old desire of adults and teenager alike to express themselves sexually. Regardless of potential personal objections, the act of sending, creating, or posting suggestive images or video to various outlets such as cell phones, emails, and internet have various draws for consenting individuals of all ages. Technologically savvy adults over the age of 50 are even getting into the act to “spice up” their marriages. However, for minors, the act is closely related to “child pornography” and as such, the repercussions are severe.

Consensual Child Pornography

As naive as the behavior may be, occasionally young teenagers “in love” have the bright idea to send each other nude photos of each other. While it is certainly frowned upon, with two consenting children of the same age bracket, the behavior should be considered an innocent mistake. Of course, it has been seen time and again when an ex in the relationship still maintains ownership of their copy of their ex and spreads them across school and to various social media outlets, causing further damage. However, even while they are in the relationship, the state of Connecticut says that so long as these individuals are between the ages of 13 and 15, a crime occurred on both the sending and receiving ends.

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Connecticut defense attorney, Connecticut juvenile attorneyLarceny is the intentional withholding of property belonging to someone else with no intention of giving it back. Convictions range from a misdemeanor to a felony based on the valued amount of the item or items taken. Many parents enter into panic mode upon hearing news that a child faces accusations of larceny. The reaction is justifiable as these charges can affect the entire future of the accused as such a stigma can severely stunt educational and employment opportunities. Your child’s future may be preserved if the appropriate action occurs quickly.

Is a juvenile record sealed or expunged at 18?

Many mistakenly believe that all criminal history before the age of 18 is automatically sealed and not visible to potential schools and employers. If the case in question was dropped or dismissed, the record erases immediately. However, if there is a conviction, a petition must be completed to have the incident “erased.” Sealing and expungement is not an option in these cases, but erasing will prevent everyone outside of a courtroom from seeing the record.

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Connecticut defense lawyer, Connecticut juvenile crimes attorneyAs parents, we go out of our way to protect our children. If someone bullies them, we do what we can to help them heal, learn to defend themselves, and punish those at fault. When our child is the one who misbehaved, protection takes a different form. They need punishments for learning experiences, as long as they are within reason. However, when the other parent comes knocking at your door, be careful what you say. Words you say to defend your child may be used against you in a parental liability suit.

Parental Liability

You are likely aware that being a parent comes with a significant amount of responsibility. Not only does your child need to be fed and sheltered, but also needs to obtain an education, maintain health, and attend regular dental visits. What you may not be immediately aware of is that your child also cannot become a disruptive member of society. Anything that your child does can have a direct impact on you and you may be held responsible. Children are not accountable for the same standards that adults are. However, they do have a level of behavior to which they still must adhere. If they are under 16 years of age, an unwritten standard of conduct exists for the rational behavior of those of similar age, experience, and intelligence. This reasonable expectation is how their behavior is judged.

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Posted on in Juvenile Crimes

Stamford juvenile defense attorney“They were mean to me!” Most parents have heard this or a similar complaint from their child. In previous generations, children were often left to learn from the experience by handling it themselves. If the methodology chosen was incorrect, our parents were sure to let us know about it as soon as we got home. In the present day, there is a national outcry for the school system to step in and protect children. Although school should have some responsibility to ensure the safety of the child, there is a point where the bully becomes a victim.

What Constitutes Bullying?

Stereotypically, the bully is the child that dominates their classmates, taking their lunch money and locking them in lockers. Bullying comes in all forms, including verbal, emotional and physical. The term has expanded to encompass a broad range of behaviors, which, by law, each school district is to define independently. However, legislation exists at the state and federal level to combat violence and harassment in the education system. The law dictates that bullying is:

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Fairfield County juvenile defense attorneyHearing that your teen is involved in any bullying incident is alarming enough; no parent wants to see one of their biggest fears come to fruition. What about when your teen is not on the receiving end of the incident, though? What happens when the young person in your life is the one being accused of the bullying behavior? Where can you turn, what can you do, and how can you prevent the incident from happening again?

Stay Alert to the Warning Signs

Many parents feel helpless when their child is accused of bullying, but the truth is parents do have some power when it comes to prevention and damage control. While you cannot prevent all poor choices your teen may decide to make, you can help prevent some of them by watching for signs that they might be partaking in harmful bullying activities.

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Connecticut juvenile defense attorneyIf you have been charged in connection with a crime or criminally sentenced, it can have far-reaching effects for the rest of your life. It may be more difficult to find work, or to participate in particular activities (going to certain areas, seeing certain people). If you are convicted of a felony, you may even be stripped of basic civil rights—convicted felons are barred from voting in 12 states. In Connecticut, a convicted felon who has been committed to the state correctional system and is residing in the correctional institution facility or community residence, he or she cannot vote. This person may be able to restore his or her voting rights, but whether he or she is able to do so is determinate upon the conviction and the specifics of the case surrounding it. Despite these long-lasting effects that can wreak havoc on a person’s life, if you are convicted of a crime as a juvenile, it can be even more devastating.

Risks for Young Offenders

A juvenile sentenced to a correctional institution will not be able to grow or participate in society traditionally. This loss of community and normal interaction during formative years can have emotional and social effects that outweigh even the institutional barriers posed by such convictions. The severity of the alleged crime matters especially in the case of juvenile offenders. The worse the crime, the more likely it is that the alleged offender will be tried as an adult and thus face longer sentences, higher fines, and/or time in a facility not specifically designed for juvenile offenders. 

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juvenile justice, criminal law, Stamford juvenile defense attorneyIn the early 1990s, the juvenile justice system was at its worst. Adolescents, many as young as 16, were being tried as adults, and even those that were not lived in overcrowded, unsanitary facilities that were harsh and overly punitive. Thankfully, the system has learned a lot about juvenile crime over the years, and has responded in a positive way. But there is still more to be done. A recent meeting in Washington D.C., attended by New Haven’s police chief, may be an important step to making those changes happen.

Former Issues Within the Juvenile Justice System

Of all the states in the U.S., Connecticut had probably one of the worst juvenile justice divisions. Teens were routinely arrested and locked into unsafe facilities with little to no hope of rehabilitation or treatment. Many were never even accused, let alone convicted of serious crimes, and 16- and 17-year-olds were tried in adult courts with open records and placed in adult prisons. In effect, the Connecticut juvenile justice system was flooded with uneducated teens that were unlikely to ever find productive jobs or become contributing members of society.

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