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CT defense lawyerNo driver wants to see those blue flashing lights pop up in their rearview mirror. Traffic stops are always stressful. Being pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving is especially nerve-racking. At this time, you need to know how to protect your rights during the traffic stop and beyond. Notably, if you were arrested for a DUI in Stamford, CT, it is imperative that you reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Your driving privileges, your freedom, and your reputation could all be on the line. You are entitled to strong legal representation.

Do Not Try to Talk Your Way Out of a DUI

At a traffic stop, you should always remain polite and you should cooperate with the reasonable requests of the responding law enforcement officers. That being said, defendants have a legal right to remain silent. You are not required to answer any invasive questions. If you are suspected of a DUI, you should use this right. One of the biggest mistakes you can make at a drunk driving stop is trying to talk your way out of an arrest. You are far more likely to talk your way into an arrest or to inadvertently provide statements that will be used in a future prosecution.

Know the Rules on Field Sobriety Testing

As explained by the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the state has an implied consent law on the books. Drivers in Connecticut have pre-consented to chemical alcohol tests — such as blood tests and breath tests. The failure to submit to one types of chemical tests could result in a DUI refusal charge. However, drivers have not consented to perform other, less reliable field sobriety types of tests. You are not legally required to do the walk-and-turn, one-leg-stand, or to recite the alphabet backwards.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_truck-violation.jpgCommercial trucks, whether big rigs or smaller vehicles, are strictly regulated in Connecticut, and sometimes out-of-state drivers are surprised by the consequences for what may seem a petty violation. However, for a commercial truck driver, any moving violation can be a serious problem, so it is a good idea to enlist a Fairfield County truck violation attorney to ensure that any issues are handled as quickly and appropriately as possible.

Weight Violations

The most common trucking violations in Connecticut are weight violations, meaning that a truck is carrying too heavy a load. While this may not seem to be a particularly egregious offense, heavy trucks have a significant and serious impact on highway and bridge infrastructure, a large proportion of which is already in a state needing repair. Also, overweight trucks may not respond as quickly as those under the appropriate weight, so if evasive action is needed (for example, if a driver must react quickly to avoid a crash), they may not respond well.

Most weight violations are punished by a fine, the amount of which is calculated by the formula given in Connecticut’s statute. It can be very easy to simply give up and pay the fine, but doing that means that the moving violation will appear on your driving record going forward. Depending on the violation, this can pose a real problem for you - it may affect your ability to get a job in the future, or raise your insurance rate to a point where your employer may object. Contesting the ticket is generally a good idea because if you can get it reduced or dismissed, your driving record will benefit.

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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 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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CT defense lawyerViolence is never the answer, but everyone makes mistakes, and everyone needs to defend themselves. If you have been involved in an incident where you used force, or threatened to use force, to cause bodily injury to another person, you can be charged with a crime of violence in Connecticut. Regardless of which specific crime you are charged with, it can derail your life plans significantly if you are convicted, so if there are mitigating circumstances, or if you simply want to ensure that your side of the story is told, it is a good idea to consult a Stamford violent crimes attorney to discuss your case.

Hard to Navigate the System

The National Registry of Exonerations lists almost 2,400 exonerations of wrongly convicted men and women that have occurred since 1989, with Connecticut having granted 25 in that time. While law enforcement tries to do its job well in order to ensure our streets are safe, it is true that sometimes, personnel will cut corners - perhaps pushing witnesses to exaggerate; perhaps inappropriate or illegal searches, or other actions. They will try to search for confessions and easy convictions that simply may not be there for the taking. It is not unheard of for law enforcement to allow violations of defendants’ constitutional rights in the hope that they will implicate themselves.

None of this is fair, and without an attorney, the chances are higher that you may be wrongfully convicted of a crime you did not commit, or receive a harsher sentence than might be warranted under state or federal laws. Even if you did harm or kill someone, you are still entitled to a fair trial and to a competent defense, and in some situations, you are less likely to get one without an experienced attorney on your side.

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Posted on in Traffic Violations

CT defense lawyerMost people think of traffic violations as everyday occurrences that one can pay a fine to resolve easily. While sometimes this is the case, sometimes the infraction is more severe, and while it is still a traffic violation, these can be quite serious, leading to license suspension and even revocation if the offense or offenses merit it. Enlisting an experienced attorney to help you defend against a traffic violation can save you time and trouble in the long run.

Many Different Kinds

Because the term ‘traffic violation’ can encompass so many things in Connecticut, it can be overwhelming to someone who has been charged with one, and it can be confusing to try and differentiate the charges which can be paid off with a fine from those that are much more serious. Also, some traffic violations may also be chargeable under criminal law as well as civil law, which means that even if you are found not liable under civil law, you might still be found guilty in criminal court, especially if you are deemed to have acted recklessly or with malice.

Something that also must be kept in mind is that even small infractions can result in points being added to your driver’s license, and points add up. Connecticut sends a warning letter to everyone who accumulates more than six points at any one time, but if you acquire more than ten, your license will be suspended for 30 days. If you are detained for a moving violation during that suspension period, or if your point total goes over ten at any time in the next five years afterward, your license will be suspended again until you get your point total below ten.

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CT defense lawyerWhile no parent likes to think about it, sometimes our children act in ways that are less than legal. When they do, it can often come as a great shock to learn that we as parents may be on the proverbial hook for the monetary damages. Connecticut has what are called parental liability laws which seek to place some of the liability for damages on the shoulders of parents of minor children. If your child commits a crime or an intentional tort (the equivalent under civil law), it is important that you understand the extent of your own responsibilities under the law.

Parents Held Responsible for Minors

While it can be an unwelcome surprise for parents to find they are liable for the damage their children cause, the rationale for holding them liable is fairly clear. In all walks of life, a parent is responsible for their children until they reach the age of majority, which is 18 in Connecticut. This responsibility simply extends to their children’s actions outside the home and immediate family sphere. However, there are limitations on this liability, and it also does not mean that no liability will extend to the minor themselves.

The law states that the maximum monetary threshold for parental liability on behalf of their minor child is $5,000. However, this threshold only applies if a parent is held liable under the specific statute. If a parent is sued for negligence - for example, if they had reason to believe that their child was going to do something violent and took no steps to stop them - that cap would not apply.

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CT defense lawyerDomestic violence charges are always serious, no matter how they originate, and very often, making them stick can be critical for your safety. However, if you are unjustly accused, this same seriousness means that the accusation will follow you, even if it is disproven later on. Either way, it is imperative to enlist a dedicated Fairfield County domestic violence lawyer to ensure that your interests are represented.

Penalties Are Harsh

Connecticut defines domestic violence (DV) or family violence as an “incident resulting in physical harm, bodily injury, or assault,” or an “act of threatened violence” that would encompass any of these categories. It is important, however, to keep in mind that state law explicitly does not include verbal abuse unless it encompasses “present danger” or likelihood that physical violence will occur, which is markedly different than DV laws in other states. The law also clearly states who is meant to be covered by these laws - not only spouses, but former spouses, parents, other blood relatives or those related by marriage who live in the same household, people in a dating relationship, or people who have a child together (regardless of whether or not they live in the same house).

Connecticut does not charge people with family violence, per se; rather, they will charge the person with the underlying offense, such as rape, stalking, or assault with a deadly weapon. Then, if the person is convicted, a notation is entered before sentencing that the crime involved family violence. This can affect sentence length, parole recommendations, and several other factors. While this means that no one in Connecticut is convicted ‘of domestic violence’ per se, it does not mean that the notation is not visible to those who might investigate or do background checks later in life.

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CT defense lawyerWhile in recent months, the possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized in Connecticut, it would be a mistake to assume that other drug laws are being similarly relaxed. This is especially true for those who have the intention to sell, and on top of that, those who sell more dangerous substances like heroin or hallucinogenic drugs may face even stiffer penalties. There is a hierarchy of sorts when it comes to Fairfield County drug offenses, and if you have been charged with one, especially with possession with intent to sell (PWITS), you need an attorney who understands the law’s specific nuances.

Intent May Not Matter

While it may seem confusing or counter-intuitive, Connecticut law surrounding possession of drugs versus possession with intent to sell does not make a distinction as to whether someone actually intends to sell the drugs or not. The law is structured in such a way that if you possess a certain amount of a drug, you can be charged with intent to sell it, whether you did have that intent or not. The only time intent actually becomes relevant as to whether or not you will be convicted is at trial - a jury may decide, for example, that you had no intent to sell drugs, and thus you should be found not guilty.

In some cases, you may not even have physical possession of the item you are charged with possessing - this is called constructive possession, and it means that you were able to exercise control over the item, even if it did not technically belong to you. For example, if drugs are found in your bedroom (after a valid search warrant is executed on the premises), you might be charged with possession since it is your room and because no one else can be said to have had control of the item while it was there. Generally, if you have a say in how something is disposed of or sold, you can be said to have constructive possession of it, and this is, in some cases, enough to charge you with possession with intent to sell.

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CT defense lawyerBeing charged with driving under the influence (DUI) is always a serious matter, with no exceptions. One is bad enough, but if you have been stopped a second time, it can have serious implications for your long-term future. Hiring a Connecticut attorney well versed in DUI law is critical, as trying to go through the process alone can be a difficult and frightening experience.

Connecticut Is Strict on DUIs

It is generally the public policy of the state of Connecticut to charge DUI crimes because of the potential danger they pose to the community. A first-time DUI in Connecticut still carries fairly strict penalties, especially if you refuse a chemical test or Breathalyzer (under Connecticut law, anyone who drives on the state’s roads has given their implied consent to administering such a test, and refusal to take it is met with punishment). While the jail time for a first DUI is minimal, the fine can be substantial, and if you refuse the breath test, your driver’s license will be suspended for at least six months, but for as much as one year if there are aggravating factors.

In Connecticut, a DUI is only counted as a second offense if it occurs within 10 years of the first, but if this happens to you, the fines will be higher, more jail time will be required, and the date and requirements for your license to be reinstated are much stricter. While there may be some occasions in which someone is granted a conditional permit if they need to drive to work or school, judges otherwise do not generally relax these requirements, just because drunk driving is so potentially dangerous.

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Posted on in Sex Crimes

CT defense lawyerEspecially in this day and age, with the MeToo movement in full swing and victims of sex crimes feeling more and more able to speak against their abusers, it is critical to separate the guilty from the truly innocent when dealing with such serious crimes. An accusation of a sex crime can ruin someone’s career or reputation, and if you are innocent of such a charge, it is critical to immediately consult an attorney so that you can have the best defense possible. A Stamford sex crimes attorney knows the law and will work hard for you.

Connecticut Law Is Narrowly Defined

Connecticut public policy, in general, is aimed at protecting the family and protecting children in particular. As a result, even relatively minor sex-related crimes may require registering as a sex offender, serving significant jail terms, or both. Sex crimes in Connecticut include not only rape and sexual assault but also lesser crimes that do not necessarily involve physical contact, such as enticing a minor, which is knowingly “persuading or enticing” someone under the age of 16 to engage in any kind of sexual act and is usually done via a computer.

Almost every sex-related crime is a felony, with the exception of acts like prostitution, which is a misdemeanor (and if one is under 18, they may be able to assert the defense of being forced or threatened into the act). Most are Class A and B felonies, which can carry between 20 and 50 years in prison, plus fines in the tens of thousands of dollars, though the specific facts of any given case will be taken into account if it goes to trial. Many defendants choose to plea-bargain if they are charged with sex crimes, but this is not always the best option. Having an attorney with you can help ensure that you receive a fair offer.

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CT defense lawyerAssault can be any incident where physical harm is done to another person. However, there are varying degrees of assault, and if you are charged with the crime, you may be able to plead to a lesser charge or avoid sentencing if you understand its ramifications fully. Having a Stamford assault lawyer helping you can make a big difference.

Different Degrees

Connecticut law divides assault charges into differing degrees, where variables will affect which one you are charged with. Third-degree assault, for example, is a Class A misdemeanor (with or without a weapon). It is punishable by up to a year in prison plus severe fines (usually around $2,000), plus costs. An assault case is more likely to be charged in the third degree if the person had intent to injure or acted recklessly (as opposed to intent to kill or use a weapon to cause permanent injury). The victim (or a third person) must be injured, but not necessarily severely.

Compare this to assault in the first degree. Someone will be charged with first-degree assault if they “intended to harm the person” and their victim was seriously injured or in certain other cases such as using a weapon to cause permanent injury. The sentence will be between 5 and 20 years in prison, as well as fines that can range up to $15,000, depending on the severity of the injuries caused. Generally, each degree of assault has its particular criteria, with only the intent and the actual injury (or lack thereof) being relatively uniform across the board.

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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 lawyerIn Connecticut, larceny, shoplifting, and standard theft are all charged as facets of the same crime, which can confuse and frighten some people. Punishment for these types of offenses usually has to do with the value of the item taken, as well as whether or not any force was used in taking it. Nonetheless, it can still be very intimidating to be accused of any theft crime, and having a Stamford theft lawyer on your side can make it easier to get through the process.

Theft Defined

Connecticut law groups multiple different theft-related crimes under the same statute, up to and including larceny, embezzlement, obtaining property by false pretenses, theft of services (for example, not paying your restaurant bill), shoplifting, conversion, and several others. While this may seem strange, the overarching rationale is that in most cases it matters very little what the crime is called, as long as the relevant criteria have been fulfilled - namely, that property is wrongfully taken, held, or withheld from its owner with the intent that the owner be permanently deprived.

It is within the same line of reasoning that the sentence for most theft crimes has to do with the monetary value of the item stolen. While it can seem unfair or inequitable that sentimental or personal value of a stolen item is not taken into account, it would be far too subjective to do that in court (in other words, an item will have different sentimental value to different people, making a just sentence too hard to create). There are six degrees of larceny charges in Connecticut, ranging from larceny in the sixth degree (punishable by a small fine and up to three months’ imprisonment) to first degree larceny, which is a Class B felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years, and a fine of up to $15,000.

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Posted on in Drug Charges

CT defense lawyerDrug charges are a very serious matter in Connecticut, especially for younger offenders. If you have been charged with possession of drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia, drug distribution, possession with intent to sell, or any other drug-related crime, it may seem that jail is inevitable, but you are entitled to a good defense from a Norwalk drug crime lawyer before any sentence is handed down.

Penalties Can Be Serious

While Connecticut has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana (under ½ an ounce, generally), this does not mean that marijuana possession for larger amounts is not treated seriously or harshly. Any amount over ½ ounce will still carry a potential penalty of between one and five years in jail, with a fine of anywhere between $500 and $5000, which is the same type of penalty carried by a charge of unlawful possession of prescription drugs. Penalties for possession of stronger drugs, such as crack cocaine or heroin, are very stiff even for a first offense, with up to seven years in jail and a $50,000 fine as possibilities.

Charges such as possession with intent to sell, possession in a restricted area (such as a school zone, housing project or day care center), and distribution/intent to distribute may also be tacked on in your case, and in many instances these largely depend on the amount of the drug you were found to possess. Large amounts will generally get a person charged with intent to sell, simply because most of the time individuals do not keep large amounts for personal use. Because of the relative arbitrariness of these charges, however, it is sometimes possible to plead to a lesser charge or get them dismissed in plea negotiations.

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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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