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Stamford Criminal Defense Law Blog

What should you know about zero tolerance laws?

In Connecticut, a zero tolerance policy is in place. You may know that the related laws are meant to give harsher penalties to underage drinkers convicted of DUI-related crimes, but do you know how they function or came to be?

FindLaw examines zero tolerance laws, their purpose, and how they can impact you. First of all, these laws are in place with the intention of cutting down the rate of underage drinking and driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, up to a third of the roadway fatalities involving people aged 15-20 are related to underage drinking. Younger drivers typically have an alcohol use rate that is double that of those over 21 years old.

Should you accept a plea bargain?

If you face criminal charges in Connecticut, chances are that the prosecutor will offer your attorney a plea bargain. But should you accept it? Obviously that depends on the exact nature of the plea bargain and the things you must agree to do.

FindLaw explains that a plea bargain represents an agreement that the prosecutor and your attorney negotiate. Naturally, both sides are seeking the best deal possible.

How to handle child abuse accusations

Allegations of domestic violence can have a long-lasting impact on Connecticut residents, particularly if these allegations include child abuse. If people find themselves facing this accusation, it is important for them to know how they should handle this situation.

Some people may think the accusations will go away as soon as they say the allegations are false. According to Very Well Mind, a court generally has to look into the situation to make sure the children are safe. This means that the allegations will not go away overnight and the situation may linger for several weeks or longer. During this time, people may sometimes want to make sure no one learns about the allegations. However, it can be a good idea to speak to close family members and friends. These people may also have to speak to the court, and it is a good idea to ask them to be honest.  Additionally, it is important to cooperate with the court during the investigation.

Connecticut statutory rape laws

According to Connecticut 2-1-1, statutory rape is a criminal offense that occurs between a person who is of the age of consent and another who is not old enough to legally consent to the activity. State laws vary regarding at what age a person can consent and how big of an age gap may exist between minors, so it is imperative that individuals and parents of teens thoroughly understand Connecticut statutory rape laws.

Per Connecticut law, a person is guilty of statutory rape when he or she partakes in sexual relations with a person who is more than three years younger than him or her if that person is between the ages of 13 and 16. However, if the minor is under the age of 13 and the offender is more than two years that minor's senior, the older person is guilty of statutory rape.

What are Connecticut’s animal cruelty laws?

Most people think about assaults against other humans when the topic of violent crimes comes up. However, cruelty to animals can also be violent, and many people might not realize that neglecting or harming an animal can result in serious criminal charges. You and other Connecticut residents should understand the state’s animal cruelty laws.

According to the Connecticut Office of Legislative Research, most instances of animal cruelty are considered misdemeanors by law enforcement, although some cases are felonies. First, what is considered animal cruelty, you may wonder? Overworking, beating, torturing, intentionally injuring, poisoning and deliberately killing or mistreating an animal to the point of death are actions that can result in animal cruelty charges. The same is true for failing to provide a pet or livestock with proper care, depriving an animal of food or water, maliciously teasing or abandoning an animal that is legally under one’s care.

What is maintaining a premises?

You may have heard news reports of people in Connecticut facing charges for maintaining premises and felt confused trying to figure out what that means because it does not sound like an illegal action. Indeed, people lawfully maintain different types of premises for all sorts of legitimate reasons. However, maintaining premises becomes a crime if you do so for illegal purposes. This often involves the manufacture, sale or distribution of controlled substances. 

According to the United States Department of Justice, maintaining drug-involved premises can entail either civil or criminal penalties. Authorities may use the amount that you gained as a result of the illegal activity as a guide to calculate your fine for a civil offense. A criminal charge related to maintaining premises can result in a fine ranging from between $500,000 to $2,000,000 in addition to up to 20 years in prison. 

Standardized and non-standardized field sobriety tests

Connecticut residents who have been pulled on suspicion of driving under the influence will likely face a field sobriety test or two. These tests are used to determine a person's sobriety level before arrests are made or further tests are ordered.

FindLaw takes a look at field sobriety tests, of which there are standardized and non-standardized versions. The standardized ones are typically used in court because they have a widely agreed-upon consensus on what is considered a "pass" and what is a "fail". Non-standardized ones include:

  • Standing with feet together and tipping the head back
  • Reciting the alphabet
  • Counting backwards
  • Counting the fingers an officer raises
  • Closing the eyes and touching the nose

Switching careers after a DUI case

When someone is pulled over for suspected drunk driving, their life may immediately begin to change. Personal relationships can be affected by drunk driving, and the financial consequences of these charges may have a lasting impact on one’s life. Some people may even be prompted to switch careers as a result of these allegations, while others who had planned a career change prior to the charges may need to rethink their decision. For example, those whose job requires a clean record or driving responsibilities may run into problems due to their DUI case.

When a law enforcement official pulls someone over for drunk driving, the driver may be worried about how their life will be disrupted, especially when it comes to their career. For those who were planning on searching for work in a different field, these charges may hinder their ability to secure a position in the field they were interested in. unfortunately, this is just one of the many ways in which a drunk driving case can derail someone’s life.

Stiffer penalties likely for fentanyl sales

In an effort to crack down on the growing number of opioid deaths in Connecticut, the members of the Connecticut House of Representatives have unanimously passed House Bill 5524, which stiffens the criminal penalties associated with fentanyl sales. Joseph J. Colarusso, Attorney at Law, recognizes that, while increasing criminal penalties for fentanyl sales may sound promising on the surface, doing so typically does little to save lives or help addicts get better.

According to the Hartford Courant, increasing criminal penalties has done little to combat the state’s war on drugs, but it does seem to have a disparate impact on minorities, the state’s poor and those struggling with mental illness or addiction. In fact, research shows that increasing incarceration rates for drug offenders does not, in fact, reduce the supply of drugs available to state residents, and it also does not reduce demand for illegal drugs.

Long-term consequences associated with drunk driving convictions

Seeing those blue lights come on in your rear-view mirror can be an unnerving experience even under the best of circumstances, but if Connecticut law enforcement officers stop you and charge you with drunk driving, your whole life can change as a result. Attorney Joseph J. Colarusso understands that a Connecticut driving while intoxicated conviction brings with it substantial penalties, and that some of the hardships you will face after a drunk driving conviction can haunt you for quite some time.

According to BACtrack, the consequences you face after a drunk driving conviction will vary to some extent based on where you live and other details relating to your arrest. However, you can typically plan on facing fines, substance abuse treatment requirements and a loss of licensure, among other possible short-term penalties.

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