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Stamford Criminal Defense Law Blog

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.

Can a lawyer accept a plea deal on your behalf?

According to the American Bar Association (ABA), legal commentators say that 95 percent of judicial cases are settled even before they go to trial. Many people in Connecticut will actually settle their cases through a plea agreement worked out with the assistance of their attorney. However, it is vital for anyone who is going through a court proceeding to understand that acceping a plea deal or a settlement is a choice for them to make alone. 

The ABA explains that the wishes of the client should always be honored by the client’s legal representation. In the event a prosecutor in a criminal case or an opposing party in a civil case puts a settlement offer on the table, it is the duty of the client's attorney to convey all the information to the client. This makes sure that the client can make an informed decision. Once the client has received and understood the offer, the client may accept or reject it.

Maintaining impartiality during rape trial processes

If you know much about what happens during formal Connecticut rape accusations, then you are aware that emotions and persuasion have the potential to take the place of good legal logic, forensic science and diligent police work. During our practice at the law offices of Joseph J. Colarusso, Attorney At Law we have found that there are many ways in which an otherwise simple innocent act could twist and turn around in the minds of a jury.

It is a challenging topic: Although we believe rape is an unacceptable crime, individuals falsely accused of rape face undue public shame. Unfortunately, that would likely only be the beginning of your troubles. If the worst happened and the situation spun out of your control, you could find yourself facing a guilty verdict or an unacceptable plea offer you could not refuse. Imagine if you were falsely convicted of such a crime: You could lose your family, your livelihood and even your freedom. 

What happens if you are underage and get a DUI?

Connecticut law maintains that anyone under the age of 21 cannot legally purchase alcohol. In general, it is also forbidden for anyone under 21 to consume alcohol. However, every year there are those under age who are charged with a DUI. 

According to the Connecticut General Assembly, the first time penalties for an underage DUI are no different from those for a legal adult. They include a suspension of your driver's license for 45 days with one year of an ignition interlock device required, a fine between $500 and $1,000 and the possibility of up to six months in jail. 

When can I refuse to answer police questions?

The idea of being questioned by police naturally makes many people in Connecticut nervous. No one wants to slip up and say the wrong thing that can be used against that person in a courtroom. Because of this possibility, it is important to know under what circumstances police may speak to you, and when you can refuse to answer their questions.

Findlaw points out a number of different scenarios where a police may try to ask you questions. Sometimes a police officer may stop you while you are walking out on the street to question you. In this instance, you are not required to be read your Miranda rights unless the police take you into custody and question you. In the Supreme Court decision Terry v. Ohio, the court ruled that police could stop a person on the street for the purposes of a brief interrogation without violating Fourth Amendment protections. However, the police should have specific facts that they can explain to justify stopping you.

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. 

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