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Stamford Criminal Defense Law Blog

The fight to reduce excessive punishment for drug crimes

Judges are beholden to federal regulations when it comes to certain types of drug charges brought in Connecticut. The regulations in question set down minimum sentences for various crimes, such as possession of controlled substances. This situation often necessitates plea-bargaining with the prosecution on behalf of the accused— if the accused hopes to avoid jail time. 

The atmosphere of heavy penalties is beginning to dissipate. Connecticut was one of the strictest states in the country during the peak of the war on drugs. In 2015, CBS ran an article about a sweeping marijuana possession law reform which reduced penalties from jail time to a fine. It also reduced penalties associated with other drugs. Reform is currently in progress on many fronts, but drug crimes still retain some of the most severe punishments available. 

What are some statistics on domestic violence?

Any incident of domestic violence in Connecticut is a serious issue. Law enforcement, legislators and private organizations work tirelessly to protect you from domestic violence. However, despite their best efforts, situations still occur. The Connecticut Collation Against Domestic Violence keeps records on people who have sought help due to domestic violence through its organizations. These records can help give you an idea of what is actually happening within the state when it comes to this crime.

From July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016, CCADV centers saw a nine percent increase in the number of people who contacted them for a total of 32,744. They also helped the same number of people with court services, which was an increase of 13 percent over the previous year.

Does social media affect your right to a fair trial?

Arrests or charges filed in a case involving a violent crime are immediate content for social media. News organizations are quick to splash details all over their social media accounts and encourage followers to make comments and discuss the case. If you are charged with a violent crime, you may wonder how this will affect your right to a fair trial. Afterall, if the potential jury pool is reading about your case and hearing all these opinions on it, can they really be impartial?

According to Rights Info, the biggest risk to a fair trial is that jury members will use social media to look for information that was not presented in court. Jury instructions always include a rule that the case can only be decided on information presented in court during the trial. Jury members are not supposed to research the case themselves or consider things they may have read on their own. 

What does it mean to plead the 5th?

If you have ever watched a television court drama, you may have seen a character pleading the 5th. While this makes for good TV and a great plot device, it actually is a very real option that you may have if you find yourself in a Connecticut courtroom. 

Time explains that pleading the 5th refers to the 5th Amendment to the Constitution. While the 5th Amendment covers a lot of ground, the specific part that refers to this situation is the right you have to not be a witness against yourself in legal proceedings. Essentially, this just means that you do not have to testify against yourself and provide evidence as to your guilt. People may evoke the 5th to prevent having to provide evidence that could lead to criminal charges being pressed against them. 

Are DUI checkpoints considered entrapment?

You have probably seen notifications from news stations or your Connecticut law enforcement about DUI checkpoints. These are when officers set up a roadblock to check drivers for driving under the influence. They are most common around holidays, and they are always announced in some form. Some people have asked the question if this is a form of entrapment, which is illegal under the law, because you would be driving right into a situation where you could possibly go to jail.

According to the Valley Independent Sentinel, DUI checkpoints are not unconstitutional or entrapment. The reason is those announcements that inform the public about them beforehand. The US Supreme Court mandates that law enforcement announce the location and time of any checkpoint to avoid the claims of entrapment. 

What does the Federal drug policy change mean for Connecticut?

You may be one of the many medical marijuana users in Connecticut. As such, recent news that the federal government is no longer going to honor the policy of not enforcing federal marijuana laws may have you concerned. However, as ABC News reports, medical marijuana users like you probably have little to fear.

It is important to know that while states have legalized marijuana in various capacities, the drug is still illegal at the federal level. What this means is if you get caught buying or using it by a federal agent, you could face federal charges even though it may be legal in Connecticut. However, there has been a long-standing unofficial agreement that the feds will not step in when people are obeying state laws. 

Man gets DUI charge after falling asleep at the steering wheel

Many people believe the only way they can receive a DUI charge is by driving while drunk. But there are other ways they can receive a driving while under the influence/impaired charge. Substances that alter a person’s perception, motor skills and cognitive abilities can lead to DUIs too. Anyone who uses medications, narcotic drugs, suffers from certain medical conditions and gets in their vehicles could find themselves dealing law enforcement. 

Impaired driving is a serious crime that endangers many people, including the offenders. Many people who operate their vehicles while under the influence risk losing control of them and hurting and killing others, including themselves. They are also likely to crash their vehicles and cause a significant amount of property damage. 

Can domestic violence murders be prevented?

Violence in relationships is something that happens all the time. It can be a difficult situation where the law may have trouble managing things and preventing them from getting even worse. However, there may be things Connecticut law enforcement and courts can do to protect domestic violence victims from becoming murder victims or murderers. 

According to NBC, there are red flags that are often seen in domestic violence cases that point to the possibility of the situation becoming a murder case. If law enforcement or others involved can watch for such signs and react accordingly, lives could be saved. 

Understanding Connecticut's statutory rape laws

Many people in Connecticut might generally have an understanding that statutory rape refers to sexual contact with a minor, they may not fully understand the state's laws on this matter. This is because the laws can be quite complex and there is not just one definition of what might constitute statutory rape. Learning about this is importnat for anyone who might have a relationship with someone under the age of 18.

According to Age of Consent, the state of Connecticut identifies 16 as the age at which a person may voluntarily and legally agree to sexual activity. This, however, is far from the only guideline and there may even be times when sexual contact with someone who is 16 or 17 may be involved with a charge of statutory rape.

Supreme Court rules on pretrial conferences

People who are accused of criminal offenses in Connecticut may sometimes have the opportunity to engage in plea bargains with the prosecuction team. These discussions may offer benefits to both prosecutors and defendants. For the former group, an agreement may result in faster processing of a case which reduces the load on the court system. For defendants, a plea deal may often result in a lesser charge being entered which may in turn lead to a lighter set of penalties compared to that associated with the original request.

The discussions that lead to these deals often take place in the private chambers of a judge. As such, they are not offically recognized court proceedings. The State Constitution requires that alleged victims in criminal cases be allowed to attend all court proceedings. In a case involving a teenage boy said to have been sexually assaulted by his former teacher, the defense team requested that the boy be allowed to attend a pretrial conference with the participating attorneys and judge. Because this is not a court proceeding, the judge denied this request.

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