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Stamford Criminal Defense Law Blog

Can you lose financial aid because of a drug conviction?

If you are the proud parent of a Connecticut graduate who has plans to head off to college in the fall, you may be spending the summer preparing your son or daughter for life on his or her own. Many first-time college students experiment a bit after getting a taste of newfound freedom, but when those experimentations involve illegal drugs, it can mean the end of his or her ability to receive financial aid.

Yes, your college student can, per U.S. News & World Report, lose his or her access to financial aid if he or she receives a drug conviction. However, whether he or she ultimately will lose access to federal assistance depends on when authorities placed your child under arrest. If your child is arrested during a time when he or she is actively receiving and using federal aid, such as in the middle of fall semester, you can anticipate a loss of financial aid access for a set period of time. If, however, authorities place your child under arrest during a time he or she is not accepting aid, such as over summer break, a subsequent conviction typically will not affect financial aid eligibility.

What to say or not say if you are arrested

Almost everyone knows about the constitutional right to remain silent when arrested, so many Connecticut residents will decide not to stay anything to the police until they have contacted legal counsel. However, some people may not exercise this right, or they might become flustered when a police officer pulls them over. It is crucial to keep in mind what to say and what not to say to a police officer to avoid potential problems.

During the initial contact with a police officer, Findlaw advises that you do not give permission to an officer to search your vehicle. The moment you tell an officer, “Yes, you can search my car,” that official now has latitude to look inside and use your possessions as evidence in a criminal case. If the officer does not have a warrant, reasonable suspicion or probable cause, your vehicle cannot be searched unless you provide consent.

How does financial abuse factor into domestic abuse?

One of the more shadowy aspects of domestic violence is that many Connecticut victims, though subject to physical or emotional abuse, feel they cannot break away from their tormentor because an abusive spouse or partner is controlling the purse strings. The Huffington Post recently reported that financial abuse is a feature in 99 percent of abusive relationships, an astonishing figure that means almost every domestic abuse victim will suffer financial torment as well.

Financial oppression can take many forms. Some involve the abuser taking control over the victim’s money. The victim may be left with no way to spend the money, or may spend the money but the victim’s expenses are highly scrutinized by the abuser. The oppressor in the relationship may demand to see all the victim’s receipts. At times the victimizer opts to shut off the cash flow so completely that the victim and even the victim's children cannot buy food or medicine unless they submit to the oppressor’s demands.

How “plain view” can lead to a vehicle search

Being stopped and searched on a Connecticut road is something many motorists would prefer to avoid. As Findlaw points out, police officers are barred from vehicle searches unless those searches meet specific legal requirements. However, while some search requirements, such as a search warrant, are well known, many motorists may not be aware that something in their vehicle may be giving a police officer a different rationale for a search.

Police officers can search a vehicle under a few specific conditions. Bearing a search warrant is one of the most well known requirements. Also, an officer who has arrested the vehicle’s driver may search the vehicle as well if the search relates to the arrest. Additionally, an officer can conduct a search if the officer has probable cause to think that criminal evidence is present in the vehicle. In some cases, an officer might believe a concealed weapon is in the vehicle that could be used against the officer.  Finally, the driver can give the officer consent to check out his or her vehicle.

What is the Youthful Offender Program?

A parent of a Connecticut juvenile is notified that their child has been charged with a crime. This can be a terrifying scenario for any parent. What does being criminally charged mean for their child? Will their young one end up going to prison, and will that child suffer a damaged reputation? In such a scenario, it is important to understand that Connecticut offers avenues for some juveniles to avoid worst case punishments and even avert having a criminal conviction on their records.

According to the Connecticut Office of Governmental Accountability website, Connecticut has a program in place called the Youthful Offender Program (YO). This program offers a way for individuals under the age of eighteen to receive much lighter or deferred punishment and avoid the type of prosecution they would receive if they were charged as adults. If someone is sixteen or seventeen years of age and is considered eligible for the program, a court may hand down any of a number of judgments, depending on the case. Some conditions, such as possessing a prior conviction of a felony on an adult docket, can disqualify a juvenile from entering the YO.

What can happen when you drive under the influence?

You have enjoyed a nice evening out with friends in Connecticut and you consumed a couple of drinks. While you know you are not completely sober, you also are confident in your ability to get yourself home safely. If the temptation to drive after you have been drinking is looming in your head, you may be interested to learn more about the consequences of this seemingly harmless behavior. 

While choosing to drive under the influence may not seem like a big deal at the time, your split-second decision instantly puts your life at risk. It also endangers your passengers and any other motorists who are driving near you. In serious cases, you could be involved in a violent car accident that leaves you and others with life-threatening injuries. According to State Farm, some of the other consequences you may face include the following:

  • You may be required to serve time in jail in addition to legal fines for breaking the law. 
  • Your license may be suspended, sometimes up to a year. If you are a repeat offender, it could be revoked entirely until further notice. 
  • You may have trouble finding employment with convictions on your record, especially when the job requires you to operate a company-owned vehicle.
  • You may not receive financial assistance for injuries sustained in an accident if you were driving drunk at the time.
  • Your insurance rates may go up to compensate for the added risk your behavior has created.

How state law criminalizes drug paraphernalia

The term “drug paraphernalia” might seem unclear to many people in the state of Connecticut. What does it refer to? Generally, drug paraphernalia is any object that can be used to ingest illicit substances or to produce and prepare them. Drug paraphernalia can encompass a lot of different objects and tools. Some people may fear that the police might mistake an object in their possession as qualifying as drug paraphernalia.

Why would anyone be concerned about possibly being arrested for drug paraphernalia? The answer is because some common objects that have perfectly legal use can be used for drug production. Findlaw points out that objects like syringes, needles, balloons and plastic bags can be considered paraphernalia since they can be used to inject drugs or assist in the production of illicit substances. Some spoons can also be utilized for cocaine use, although these spoons are often miniature in size.

Can drug court help you beat a meth addiction?

Methamphetamine addiction is plaguing numerous parts of the country, and many areas and people across Connecticut are in some way affected. If you are currently facing a drug-related criminal charge relating to your meth addiction, you may have justifiable concerns about the penalties you potentially face. However, depending on several circumstances, you may be able to enter a drug court program as opposed to serving time behind bars. In addition to keeping you out of a jail, research indicates that drug court may be a key component in helping you kick your drug addiction for good.

According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, drug courts are supervised programs that help combat prison overcrowding by helping nonviolent drug offenders get to what is, for many, the root of their criminal behavior: drug addiction. Meth addiction, specifically, is a tremendously hard habit to kick, and you may know this firsthand. However, studies show that participating in drug court can have a considerable impact on your ability to get – and stay – clean.

Factors that determine whether you should plea bargain

The fact that more than 90 percent of successful criminal convictions are accomplished through plea deals may sound surprising to many people in Connecticut. Why would so many people accept a plea deal rather than fight criminal charges in court? According to Findlaw, the motivations for accepting a plea deal are varied and depend greatly on the defendant's circumstances.

Perhaps the most uncomfortable reason for a person to plea bargain is because a defendant's attorney has professionally assessed the chances of winning in a trial and has determined that prevailing might be difficult at best. At times the best course of action is to be practical about one's chances in beating the charges. However, the choice is always up to the defendant, who may still decide to proceed with fighting the charges in a court trial.

How ignition interlock devices work

The loss of driving privileges due to a DUI or other violation of state driving laws can feel devastating, and naturally, any Connecticut resident who has gone through the process of having a driver’s license suspended wants to resume their driving privileges as soon as possible. Fortunately, state law does provide a way for drivers who have been convicted of a DUI to prove that they can act responsibly behind the wheel, through the use of an ignition interlock device (IID).  

Connecticut state law, as described on the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles website, requires drivers to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicles in the event of a violation of one of several state laws. These may include failing an alcohol test or refusing to take one, operating under alcoholic or drug influence, or engaging in vehicular assault or manslaughter with a vehicle. Once the driver has served a time of a driver's license suspension, the driver will be permitted to operate a vehicle with an ignition interlock device installed.

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