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racial disparity, police violence, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyAlthough efforts have been made to decrease the police-related racial disparities, new information indicates they are still present. In fact, according to the Associated Press, preliminary data indicates that officers fired stun guns at blacks and Hispanics suspects at a rate higher than white suspects last year. Officers are warning citizens not to be overly alarmed at the information because differences between departments and cities can make it difficult to compare percentages, but experts say they are still concerned.

Stun Gun Risks

For the most part, stun guns cause only minor injuries, including the need for removal of the prongs that deliver the shock. However, Amnesty International reports that at least 540 people in the United States have died after being shocked by a stun gun between the years 2001 and 2012. In Connecticut, 17 people have died since 2005, and 12 of them were minorities, the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut now says. So, while this is, overall, a very small percentage, the information does indicate a very real risk of stun gun death, particularly among minorities.  

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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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weapons, Stamford criminal defense attorneyThe rate of violent crimes has continued to decrease nationwide, though widely publicized events and acts of domestic terrorism—such as mass shootings—continue to rise. As this trend moves into the new year, the national conversation has moved again to gun control, an issue that promises to be of grave importance as we move closer to the 2016 presidential election. There are several restrictions already in place in the state of Connecticut regarding the possession, sale, and use of firearms, the violation of which can result in serious punishment, jail time, and even a mark on one’s permanent record.

The Connecticut state legislature requires that anyone buying or otherwise acquiring a gun in the state must obtain them and follow the proper legal authorization procedure to do so. This includes anyone interested in purchasing a gun at a gun show, online from a friend, or even if one is borrowing a firearm from a family member. The person selling the gun—even if this is a private exchange between two people who know each other—must have proper permits to sell firearms. Failure to do so could result in fines or jail time or both.

In the wake of the tragedies at the end of 2015 in which firearms played a central role, so does the dialogue revolving around the restriction of gun sales and ownership. In the state of Connecticut, there have long been restrictions in place regarding who may own or possess a gun. These include:

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death penalty, Stamford Criminal Defense AttorneyOlder than America itself (significantly older, really), the death penalty has always been largely supported by U.S. citizens. However, there is evidence that suggests that the tides may be shifting. In fact, if recent changes to state laws and a poll conducted by Gallup and the Pew Research Center are any indication, capital punishment may eventually become a thing of the past.

Support for the Death Penalty at Nearly a 40-Year Low

Support for the death penalty in the United States reached its peak in the 1980s and ‘90s. It now sits somewhere between 56 and 61 percent, according to the 2015 study. While still considered to be the majority, this number marks a steady and continuous decline since the peak period. And, according to the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center, this number also places support for the death penalty at nearly a 40-year low.

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age limit, juvenile system, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyIt is illegal to purchase alcohol or handgun until the age of 21. Congressional seats are unobtainable until the age of 25, as are most discounts on car insurance. Even rental cars have added restrictions for those under the age of 25. And yet, all throughout the country, children as young as 14 are tried and convicted as adults. Even in Connecticut, where the age of eligibility is quite progressive, most young adults are pushed out of the juvenile system the moment they turn 18.

Seems a little contradictory, does it not?

Interestingly enough, there are lawmakers and legislatures that actually agree; Governor Dannel Malloy is one of them. In fact, he recently proposed that Connecticut divert its youth from the adult correctional facility by raising its age of eligibility to 20, and that the state come up with alternative methods for handing non-violent offenders under the age of 25. As it turns out, there may be a number of benefits in doing so.

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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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holiday, DUI, Connecticut DUI defense attorneyThe holiday season is a busy time, with families getting together, going out to dinner after a long day of shopping, and spending time with friends at the local pub, restaurant, or bar. Police officers are busier, too, stopping drivers they believe may be intoxicated. In fact, it appears they are putting some extra manpower into catching more DUI drivers this holiday season.

Thanksgiving Marked Beginning of Efforts

For officers, the arrests begin Thanksgiving Day and continue on through the New Year; this year was no exception. According to a press release from the State Police, they made nine DUI arrests, as well as another 393 for speeding on the very first day of the effort. They also issued 56 tickets for seatbelt violations and another 894 tickets for moving violations that included unsafe lane changes, following too closely, using cell phone while driving, texting, and failure to signal.

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Posted on in Hate Crimes

hate crime, holiday increase, stamford criminal defense attorneyThe incidents of several different types of crime rises during the holiday season, likely due to increased stress levels, demands for money, and pervasive societal stress and expectations. Sadly, hate crimes are no exception to these trends. The rate of hate crimes spikes during the holidays both likely due to the aforementioned social quandaries, but also because of the holidays themselves—hate crimes against the Jewish community especially seem to spike during the holiday season, and this even more-so on the East Coast, where cities are comprised of large percentages of citizens who identify with the Jewish faith. In 2015, as terrorist attacks continue to infiltrate the fabric of everyday Western life, the rate of hate crimes against Muslims will likely keep pace as well.

More Than Faith-Based

Regardless, the highest rate of hate crime incident continues to be racially-motivated, at 47 percent nationwide. Hate crimes motivated by religious identification or sexual orientation are tied at second, each accounting for nearly 19 percent of all reported incidents of hate crimes. In Connecticut, a hate crime does not have to be defined as an act of physical violence or physical action. A hate crime can also be defined as a crime of intimidation, which includes criminal harassment or being threatened. A person can be charged with criminal harassment if the alleged victim can prove that he or she was being repeatedly followed, that the person repeatedly called the person’s place of work or home (either directly or through contacting a mutual acquaintance), or if a person receives threatening letters or emails.

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juvenile sex offender, sex offender registry, Stamford criminal defense attorneyFor years, states have been tightening the registry for sex offenders, and this includes juvenile sex offenders. But, as more evidence comes in, some states are starting to rethink how they handle their juvenile cases. Unfortunately, the changes are slow in coming, and this can mean some big issues for some juvenile offenders, even in the state of Connecticut, where juveniles are not typically registered.

The Truth about Juvenile Sex Offenders

Early information and thinking on juvenile sex offenders had been originally based on what was known about adult offenders. Over time, it has become clear that juvenile offenders and adult offenders are very different. For example, juvenile offenders are far less likely to reoffend than adults, especially if they receive quality treatment and intervention. In fact, some studies have found recidivism rates to be as low as one percent among juvenile offenders.

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Posted on in Assault and Battery

police, assault of an officer, Stamford criminal defense attorneyIn the wake of several headline-making events this year involving police brutality and allegations of systemic issues of bias by police departments, the issue of assaults perpetrated against police have somewhat taken a backseat in media coverage. This does not mean that they are not still happening, or that the issue is not a major one for most police departments across the country. In 2014, more than 48,000 police officers nationwide were assaulted, and of these more than 28 percent sustained injuries. This is a rate of officer assaults of nine per 100 sworn police officers.

Dangerous Interactions

The majority of assaults against police are perpetrated when a person is out of control, either on drugs or drunk or angry. This can happen in a heated emotional or tense situation when the police are called to handle someone who is posing a danger to himself or people around him. When the situation escalates to violence, police officers are sometimes caught in the middle and assaulted, either accidentally or on purpose. Whether the assault against an officer was intended or not does not matter in the eyes of the law.

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Posted on in Hate Crimes

hate crime, Connecticut law, Stamford criminal defense attorneyWhen one is accused or charged with a hate crime, in many cases, it becomes a case handled by the Bureau of Federal Investigation (FBI). Hate crimes can vary in severity, meaning that any crime from murder to petty vandalism can be considered as such.

What is a Hate Crime?

Any crime committed with an element of bias, against a person or a property associated with a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation can be considered a hate crime. To hate someone or a group of people is not, by any means, a crime, and is protected by the freedom of speech and other civil liberties laid out in the Bill of Rights. Yet when crime is motivated by this hate, it becomes a serious crime and, in many cases, felony. While not all hate crimes will be considered a federal offense and thus investigated by the FBI, very often the federal government does divert federal resources for the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes.

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bail reform, Governor Malloy, Stamford Criminal Defense Attorney Suggested overhauls on the prison system are sweeping the nation, with some proposing reforms to sentencing and others suggesting changes in parole options. In Connecticut, Governor Dannel P. Malloy is taking a different approach by calling for a change to the state’s bail system for charged but not convicted prisoners.

Connecticut Already Ahead of the Curve

While many states have only just started to consider reform for nonviolent offenders, Governor Malloy has already passed a Second Chance initiative. Designed to reduce penalties for many drug offenders, the bill is aimed at successfully reintegrating nonviolent offenders back into society where they can potentially become productive workers. But the Governor is not satisfied just yet; to truly make an impact on the state’s economic state, he wants to change the bail system for prisoners awaiting sentencing.

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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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Connecticut defense attorney, Connecticut criminal lawyer, Connecticut sexual assault laws, The issue of sexual assault on college campuses has been blown out of the shadows in recent years with several high-profile cases. In April of this year, Vice President Joe Biden spoke to the successes that college communities have had in recent years in curbing the number of sexual assaults, but noted that there was far more work to do.

While in past years, statistics and reports often found that students who were accused of sexual assault faced little to no reprimand by university authorities — while the lives of victims were often thrown into psychological and social upheaval — according to research in 2015, the pendulum may be swinging too far the other way. That is, in an effort to stay out of headlines and attack the issue of sexual assault head on, some university authorities have begun to take accusations of sexual assault as fact, without doing due diligence to back up these accusations. And the accused often faces severe punishments without fair investigation.

This is often the case when accused men are tried in a college tribunal rather than in court, as would happen if the incident occurred off college campus. In these tribunals, an accused is often not given a period of discovery (thus cannot get the evidence he needs to exonerate himself), is not given an attorney, and has limited right of cross examination. While these tribunals ostensibly operate on the assumption that the accused is innocent until proven guilty, in small college communities the system does not actually function as such in operation.

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Connecticut defense lawyer, Connecticut crime rate, Connecticut criminal lawyer, Casinos have long been touted as dangerous to a community for the rise in crime with which they are associated in surrounding areas. Casinos are also associated with a rise in tourism and employment opportunities, so most communities tend to vote in favor of their construction and take the risk.

Some studies show that the ratio of available jobs to area adult residents increased by as much as 5 percent. Yet other studies show that the presence of casinos is also associated with an increase in area substance abuse, mental illness, violent crime, theft, bankruptcy, and even increasing suicide rates. Some communities report a 10 percent increase in larceny, bankruptcy, and auto theft after an area casino opened.

It was more than 20 years ago that communities of Connecticut decided to take this risk, and the past two decades have shown that Connecticut may be the exception when it comes to these statistics. In fact, crime rates have decidedly fallen since two of the state’s largest casinos — Foxwoods Resort and Mohegan Sun — opened.

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Connecticut drunk driving attorney, Connecticut defense attoney, Connecticut criminal lawyer,Drunk driving in Connecticut is not worth the cost, or the risk. Sadly, the percentage of Connecticut drivers who admit to driving after drinking too much is still higher than the national average. Even more concerning is that an alarming number of parents get behind the wheel, drunk, with their children in the car. Whether they are aware of it or not, this could lead to additional charges, regardless of there not being an official law covering driving under the influence with minor passengers.

Even at First Offense, DUI Laws Are Costly

Connecticut has cracked down on drunk driving over the years; now, even on a first DUI offense, your license can be suspended and you may spend anywhere from six months to a year with an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on your vehicle. Each additional offense increases the level of consequences, and if you are charged enough, you could face serious criminal charges.

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Illinois juvenile crimes attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois criminal attorney Youth in every society, from the beginning of time, have pushed boundaries, and explored their sexuality. Today’s teenagers are no different. But, the consequences of their actions can now be recorded and distributed through smart phones and published on the web for the world to see. Connecticut has developed a set of laws to deal specifically with youth under age 18 who engage in sexting.

Sexting and Child Pornography

The law in Connecticut makes it illegal for anyone under 18 and at least 13 years old to possess or transmit sexually explicit images, through a computer or mobile phone, of anyone between the ages of 13 and 16 years old. Here are some examples of how the law works:

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Connecticut defense attorney, Connecticut criminal lawyer, computer hacking, One of the biggest challenges lawmakers face is trying to write laws that keep pace with the rapid advancement of technology. Connecticut has several different computer crimes on the books. Unfortunately, these laws are often written and interpreted broadly, sweeping up some people who may never have thought of themselves as criminals.

The five major computer crimes are:

  1. Unauthorized access to a computer system;
  2. Theft of computer services;
  3. Interruption of computer services;
  4. Misuse of computer system information; and
  5. Destruction of computer equipment

Unauthorized Access to a Computer System

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Connecticut criminal laws, Connecticut defense lawyer, Connecticut criminal attorney, As long as there has been civilization, there has been graffiti. Whether it is scratching initials into a desk or painting an entire mural on the wall of the local school, people are always looking for new ways to leave their mark on their hometown. However, graffiti is considered a property crime and can lead to serious penalties if police catch you. Budding street artists in Connecticut are finding this out the hard way.

Earlier this year, a group of graffiti artists were arrested after their identities were revealed on Instagram. They are now facing possible jail time after defacing property worth upward of $12,000.

The Potential Consequences of a Conviction

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Connecticut drug laws, Connecticut defense lawyer, Connecticut criminal attorney, In Connecticut, if police catch you in possession of an illegal substance, chances are you will face drug charges. These can come with steep fines and even time behind bars. However, many people are not aware that if police arrest you for possessing drug paraphernalia, such as a pipe, you may also face severe penalties.

According to Connecticut law, it is illegal for anyone to be in possession of drug paraphernalia with the intention of using it for any of several listed drug-related purposes, which can range from growing or preparing to ingesting or inhaling controlled substances.

Several items are classified as “paraphernalia,” such as:

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