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Stamford Criminal Defense Law Blog

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. 

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. 

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