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domestic violence, domestic abuse, Stamford Criminal Defense AttorneyFacing domestic violence charges is a serious matter. If convicted, defendants may have a criminal record and a potential jail sentence.

Connecticut’s domestic violence laws do not discriminate based on gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education, or immigration status, according to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. If you face domestic violence charges, it is important that you know your rights and consult an attorney with experience handling cases like yours.

Definition of Family Violence

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

university, campus crime, Connecticut Criminal Defense AttorneyA lot has been in the news lately about crimes on college campuses, especially those dealing with sexual assault and rape. The recent Rolling Stone article about rape on the University of Virginia campus—that was later shown to be in large part manufactured and incorrectly reported by Rolling Stone—may serve to belie just how serious and honest the vast majority of these crimes are.

According to the Washington Post, the number of victims who come forward to report sexual assault or forcible sexual offenses on college campuses have continued to increase in recent years. This could be in part due to the encouragement of university officials that students come forward to report such incidences, rather than to sweep them under the rug. In 2012, it was reported that Penn State University had the nation’s highest number of reports of forcible sex offenses on campus at a staggering 56 incidents in one school year.

Despite stories of these widely publicized criminal incidents, sexual assault is not the most common crime experienced or perpetrated on university campuses. Instead, the most commonly reported criminal offense on college campuses in recent years was burglary. In 2011, there were 6,712 burglaries reported on college campuses. It should be kept in mind that these statistics are only for incidents that actually occurred on the campus. As such, they do not include incidents experienced by college students off campus in a nearby apartment complex or the like.

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police, traffic stop, Connecticut criminal defense lawyerNobody likes being on the wrong end of a traffic stop. The blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror will get your heart pumping, blood flowing, and hands shaking in an instant. In many cases, people do not know why police have stopped them. They may be unaware of a broken taillight, or they may not have noticed a stop sign. No matter what the reason for the traffic stop, it is always important to stay calm and to be respectful to the officer. If the officer tries to give you a ticket for a traffic offense or test you for DUI, rude behavior can only worsen the situation.

Stay Calm and Pull over Safely

If a police car moves behind you and turns on its lights, it is important to pull over as soon as it is safely possible, according to Business Insider. If you have to change lanes, this may require waiting a moment for other vehicles to move.

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marijuana, decriminalization, Connecticut Criminal Defense LawyerAttitudes across the country are changing when it comes to marijuana and the punishment for marijuana possession, and Connecticut is no exception. According to Connecticut law, the state currently carries fines and criminal penalties for certain levels of possession. Possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana carries a $150 fine for the first offense. Penalties become increasingly harsh with frequency of offense: a second offense can carry up to a $500 penalty. Third-time offenders will have to attend drug education classes, which will be paid for by their own means. The more substance, the higher the penalty as well: if a person has more than a half-ounce but less than 4 ounces of cannabis he or she can face up to a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison, or both. These penalties were enacted in 2011, making possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil violation instead of a criminal offense, as it had been in previous years.

Even still, in light of legalization in Washington and Colorado and decriminalization of marijuana in many other states, these punishments can seem unduly tough. This is perhaps one reason attitudes in Connecticut are changing toward the necessity of strict penalties for marijuana possession and recreational use.

In recent months, the Connecticut state legislature seems ready to discuss further decriminalization and even possible legalization. Representative Edwin Vargas and Representative Juan Candelaria have both introduced house bills that would replace prohibition of marijuana with restrictive legalization for adult use. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, a recent study out of Quinnipiac University found that the majority of Connecticut voters support legalization of marijuana for adults: 52 percent of all voters supported such a measure, as did 80 percent of voters under the age of 30.

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statutory rape, sexual assault, Stamford Criminal Defense LawyerSex crimes are pretty black and white when it comes down to it. Yet there are some cases in which the crime—and the punishment—can fall into a rather gray area, and statutory rape is among these. Somewhat surprisingly, most states do not refer specifically to statutory rape, but instead designate such a crime as sexual assault or sexual abuse. Assault and abuse are blanket terms used to designate or identify such prohibited activity. Regardless of semantics, statutory rape is a sexual crime against a person who is not of age, based on the premise that until a person reaches a certain age, sexual contact with that person is illegal, regardless of consent. In most states, including Connecticut, the age of legal consent is 16 years old.

The punishment in Connecticut for statutory rape is steep—from 10 to 25 years in prison with a mandatory minimum of five years if the victim is between the age of 10 and 16. A convicted individual will receive a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison if the victim is less than 10 years old.

The US Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reports that the vast majority of statutory rape victims (up to 95 percent) are female, but regardless of gender, almost 60 percent of all statutory rape victims were aged 14 or 15. Thirty percent of statutory rape offenders were boyfriends or girlfriends, meaning that the chance of consent was actually likely—even if the consenter did not have the legal ability to do so. An estimated sixty percent of all statutory rape offenders were acquaintances.

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ignition interlock, DUI, Connecticut DUI defense lawyerBeginning on July 1, 2015, a stricter ignition interlock requirement will be implemented for drivers convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). Under the new law, the Department of Motor Vehicles is authorized to require ignition interlock devices to be installed in the vehicles of first-time DUI offenders.

An ignition interlock device is a small device that measures blood alcohol which is wired into the ignition of a vehicle. The driver must blow into the device before the vehicle may be started, and the vehicle will not start if the driver has a measurable blood alcohol level. Ignition interlock devices are shown to decrease the number of repeat DUI offenses by as much as 67 percent.

The new law impacts penalties imposed for a DUI conviction or for administrative violations of Connecticut’s drunk driving laws. In addition to requiring interlock ignition devices for DUI first offenders, the new law also:

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underage drinking, consequences, Stamford criminal defense attorneySpring has finally arrived in Connecticut, and that means that the school year will be winding down soon. For high school students – especially seniors – the end of the school year brings with it exciting events. If you have teenagers, they have probably begun making plans for proms, class trips, award banquets, and other activities. It is not uncommon, however, for underage drinking to occur, and the consequences of such drinking can be serious for not only teens, but also for their parents.

In Connecticut, the legal drinking age was raised to 21-years-old in 1985– and has remained there ever since. According to Connecticut General Statute Sec. 30-89, minors are not allowed to possess alcohol, whether in a public road or street; or a private or public place. The fine for violating the law can be up to $500.

It is also illegal for a minor to purchase alcohol, even if the establishment does not request legal proof of age, such as a driver’s license. And if a minor is carded, and provides a false identification, they can be fined anywhere from $200 up to $500 and be sentenced to up to 30 days in jail.

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distracted driving, teen crashes, Connecticut traffic violations lawyerIf you are a teen driver or the parent of a teen driver, you have likely heard many warnings about the dangers of distracted driving, including texting and using a cell phone. A recent study shows that distracted driving is responsible for more teen car crashes than previously thought.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently studied videos taken from vehicle event recorders of almost 1,700 crashes involving teen drivers. These videos showed that distracted driving was a factor in 58 percent of accidents. This is almost four times higher than the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s previous estimate that 14 percent of accidents involving teen drivers were caused by distracted driving.

The following is a breakdown of the most frequent types of distractions and the percentage of accidents to which they were linked in the study:

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sexting, text messages, Connecticut Sex Crimes Defense AttorneySending sexually explicit content through text, pictures, or video—known as “sexting”—has become a major concern among U.S. parents. This is especially true in cases involving pictures or video. To govern these crimes, various states began adopting teen sexting laws starting in 2009. Today, roughly half of the states in this country have some type of legislation that relates to sending sexual content over the Internet and on cellphones. Understanding these laws is critical for every parent.

How Sexting Can Get Teens in Trouble

Sexting made national headlines when a teenager faced charges of distributing child pornography. According to CNN, the defendant distributed nude pictures of his 16-year-old girlfriend as a means of getting back at her for an argument. As a result of this case, the court labeled the defendant a sex offender.

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property crimes, home invasion, Connecticut Criminal Defense AttorneyBurglary and home invasion crimes are reported with seemingly increasing frequency. These are serious crimes, and someone who is charged with burglary may also be charged with the related crimes of robbery and larceny. If the person charged with burglary is a juvenile, it could signal the beginning of more serious criminal involvement.

Home invasion is the most serious of the burglary-type offenses, and is a Class A felony. It occurs when a person enters an occupied dwelling with the intent to commit a crime and either:

  • He or another person commits a felony against the occupant; or
  • He is armed with explosives or a deadly weapon or dangerous item.

Burglaries are divided into three types based on the circumstances of the crime. The crime of third degree burglary occurs when a person breaks into a building and enters it with the intent to commit a crime. It is second degree burglary if the building is a dwelling, and the occupant is present in the dwelling at the time. For first degree burglary, a person enters a building with the intent to commit a crime and:

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Common traffic violations, traffic offenses, Connecticut traffic violations attorneyAlthough every driver is responsible for following traffic laws, it is easy to make a careless mistake and wind up with a ticket. Being inattentive for even a second can cause a person to speed or miss a stop sign.

In most cases, facing a traffic violation is not the end of the world. However, they can come with steep fines, and in some cases, a driver may even lose his or her license. In the most serious cases, offenders may also face jail time. This is why it is so important for drivers to take proactive steps to avoid the most common traffic violations.

Here is a breakdown of the three of most common traffic violations in Connecticut:

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traffic violations, traffic stop, Connecticut Criminal Defense AttorneyTraffic violations can be stressful, time-consuming, and expensive. Additionally, they are more common than most people may realize. In fact, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, traffic stops represent the most common type of interaction between civilians and law enforcement.

Conviction of or pleading guilty to a traffic violation, may result in a financial penalty, license suspension, or even jail time depending on the nature of the offense. Fortunately, a criminal attorney with experience litigating traffic violation cases may be able to get the charges significantly reduced or altogether dropped.

What to Do When Police Pull You Over

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drug crime, criminal justice reform, Stamford Defense AttorneyGovernor Daniel Malloy recently announced his plans to introduce serious changes to the criminal justice system. According to The Register Citizen, Governor Malloy believes Connecticut—and the rest of the United States—has created a justice system that persecutes many unfairly and fails to offer a second chance to those who deserve one.

The proposed measures would involve changes in several key areas including drug crimes. While many are hopeful that the reform will lead to a more effective justice system, criminal offenses are—and will always be—serious matters.

Governor Announces New Goals at College Speech

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sex crimes, teachers, Connecticut Defense LawyerLately, there have been numerous news reports of Connecticut teachers being arrested for sex crimes related to inappropriate contact with students. Such arrests can result in felony charges and prison sentences, in addition to having a serious impact on the lives of all those involved.

A high school teacher, who has since resigned, was recently sentenced to two years in prison for having a sexual relationship with one of his students was recently sentenced to two years in prison. He had been charged with one count of second-degree sexual assault, a felony.  Although the student was over 16 years old, which is the age of consent, Connecticut law considers such actions to be second-degree sexual assault if the perpetrator is a teacher and the victim is a student at the school.

In most cases of inappropriate sexual contact between a teacher and student, the charge is second-degree sexual assault. Other possible charges include risk of injury or impairing the morals of a child, which are also considered felonies.

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Campus Rape, Affirmative Consent, Connecticut Defense AttorneySexual assault on college campuses occurs with alarming frequency. Among the most critical issues of fact in sexual assault cases is whether the alleged victim consented to the sexual activity. A proposed law would change the legal definition of consent in these cases.

Currently, Connecticut law provides that sexual assault in the first degree occurs when a person compels another to engage in sexual intercourse by the use of force, or the threat of use of force, against that person or a third person. As with any criminal charge, sexual assault must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for the accused to be found guilty.

Under the proposed law, the consent standard in sexual assault cases that occur on college campuses in Connecticut would become “affirmative consent.” The proposal is modeled after a recently-enacted California law, and provides that affirmative consent means “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” Failure to protest or resist, and remaining silent, would not constitute affirmative consent.

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violation of restraining order, Stamford criminal defense law firmIf you have been arrested on domestic violence charges, chances are good that you have also had a protective or restraining order issued against you. The courts—and Connecticut lawmakers—take domestic violence charges, protective orders, and restraining orders very seriously, and so should you.

Protective Orders

According to the Connecticut Judicial Branch information on domestic violence, a protective order is an order issued in a criminal case and is issued against a defendant after an arrest for family violence. A criminal protective order remains in effect until the underlying criminal case is completed.

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

heroin in the Stamford suburbs, Stamford criminal lawyerMany people think that drug crime is a problem only in big cities. However, lately the use of heroin and other drugs has been skyrocketing in the suburbs, including affluent communities. Increased drug use brings with it an increase in the number of arrests, hospital visits, and property crimes.

According to a recent article in the Connecticut Post, there has been a threefold increase in opiate addiction cases over the last decade at the Addiction Recovery Center at Greenwich Hospital. In addition, heroin deaths have been recorded by Greenwich Police every year since 2011.

Heroin-related arrests have increased as well. Greenwich Police made twelve heroin seizures in 2013, but the actual number is higher because the presence of heroin was not recorded in several other cases. Drug-related property crimes, including burglaries, items stolen from cars, and even street robberies, have been on the rise. Every year the Greenwich Police see from 80 to 100 residential burglary cases and 20 to 30 business burglary cases. It’s estimated that the vast majority of those cases—up to 95 percent of them—are related to drugs.

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Posted on in Sex Crimes

online solicitation in Connecticut, Stamford sex crimes lawyerIf you have ever seen some of the popular crime shows on television today, there are many shows revolving around the theme of internet predators. In fact, with the popularity of social media, the problem is ever growing as younger adults frequently use the Internet and social media in their everyday lives, raising concerns about the potential for predator crimes.

In the state of Connecticut, online solicitation of a minor is defined as using a computer service that is interactive to coerce a person less than 16 years of age. If you know that the person you are talking to is under 16, and you attempt to entice them into prostitution or sexual acts, you can be charged with a criminal offense.

Solicitation of a minor is a class D felony in the state of Connecticut for the first offense. The second is a class C felony, and the third offense is a class B felony. There significant other a special exception that says if the person is less than 13 years of age, you will be charged with a class B felony that is punishable by no less than a 5 year term of imprisonment for the first offense. Any subsequent offense will be 10 years. These sentences cannot be suspended or reduced by the court.

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juveniles handcuffed in court, Stamford criminal defense lawyerFor juveniles who have been arrested on criminal charges, facing a judge can be an intimidating experience. Appearing before a judge while the juvenile is wearing shackles is considered by some to be too traumatizing for many juveniles and sends them the wrong message.

Two Connecticut lawmakers have introduced bills that would limit the circumstances under which juveniles would be kept in shackles in the courtroom. The legislation would create a presumption that shackles will not be used in the courtroom unless ordered by the court. Existing policy states that juveniles are to be shackled while being transferred from a detention center to the courthouse, but a determination is then made as to whether the shackles stay on in the courtroom based on how the juvenile behaved in detention.

However, there is some disagreement as to whether the policy is followed consistently in all cases. It is reported that in some cases, shackles are not removed from the juvenile unless requested by the juvenile’s attorney. This is an instance where it pays to have an experienced juvenile criminal defense attorney at your side.

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assault convictions in Connecticut, Stamford criminal lawyerIf you have been charged with the crime of assault in Connecticut, the type of charge will determine the potential penalties you will face. Connecticut law delineates three distinct levels of assault, each of which carries separate penalties.

First degree assault is the most severe level you can be charged with. Assault in the first degree is a Class B felony in Connecticut, carrying penalties of up to 20 years in prison—with a mandatory prison of at least five years—and up to $15,000 in fines if convicted. First degree assault is defined as:

  • Causing serious physical injury with a deadly weapon or other dangerous item, with the intent to cause serious injury.
  • Causing serious permanent disfigurement or destroying or amputating a body part, with the intent to do so.
  • Causing serious physical injury by recklessly engaging in conduct that demonstrates extreme indifference to human life.
  • Causing serious physical injury with two or more other people, with intent to do so.
  • Causing physical injury with a firearm, with intent to do so.

Second degree assault is a Class D felony, with a prison sentence of one to five years and up to $5,000 in fines. If a firearm is used or the person threatens to use a firearm, a sentence of at least one year in prison is required. Second degree assault is defined as:

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