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Stamford Criminal Defense Law Blog

Miranda warnings date back to 1966

Connecticut residents likely became familiar with the Miranda warning after hearing police officers in films and television shows tell suspects that they had the right to remain silent and consult with an attorney. The rights referred to in the Miranda warning are provided by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but police officers were not required to inform suspects about them until 1966.

That was when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case involving an Arizona man who confessed to kidnapping and raping an 18-year-old woman after two hours of police interrogation. The nation's highest court ruled that the confession was inadmissible because officers used coercive techniques and did not tell the man that he had the right to say nothing and any statements he did make could be used against him in court. While the Supreme Court did not state the specific words police officers should use when they inform suspects about their constitutional rights, the justices did make clear which rights should be included in Miranda warnings.

Connecticut school board member charged with kidnapping

According to news sources, a member of the Bridgeport Board of Education is facing multiple charges following an incident that occurred on Dec. 27, 2019. The man and his wife reportedly impersonated law enforcement officers and attempted to force an acquaintance to go with them at gunpoint.

The school board member and his wife reportedly went to the apartment of a 21-year-old acquaintance in Seymour and attempted to force the man to leave with them. The man fought back, and the couple allegedly fled the scene. The couple reportedly impersonated police officers to gain access to the apartment building in which the man's apartment was located.

Man charged for drug crimes after police chase

A man in Connecticut was charged for drug crimes after a short police chase at 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 26. The 27-year-old man was allegedly found to be in possession of several illegal substances as well as an illegal loaded firearm. He was handed several charges including illegal possession of narcotics and sale of illegal drugs.

The man was driving his car in Naugatuck when the incident began. Believing that the man had participated in a drug transaction, a police officer followed the man's black 2019 Mazda CX5 to an entrance ramp on Route 8 North where the man had parked in a travel lane. After the policeman pulled up behind the man's vehicle and told him to exit, the man allegedly got out of his car with a gun in his hand. The accused man then ran into the woods where other police officers and K9 units stopped him.

Advocacy group comes out against the SOFA Act

Prison populations in Connecticut and around the country swelled in the 1990s because of harsh sentencing laws passed to combat a crime wave linked to crack cocaine. The latest drug menace is the deadly opioid fentanyl, and Congress is once again being urged to take a hard line to protect the public. An emergency order made fentanyl a Schedule 1 controlled substance in February 2018. The Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues Act would make the classification permanent.

The Schedule 1 designation makes apprehending and prosecuting fentanyl traffickers easier, but the SOFA Act has as many critics as it has supporters. These critics say passage of the bill would disproportionately affect poor and minority communities just as draconian crack cocaine sentencing laws did decades ago. In a report released on Dec. 18, the Drug Policy Alliance asks lawmakers and law enforcement to consider alternatives to harsh punishments.

Experts question police use of controversial technique

Connecticut residents might be aware that the results of polygraph tests cannot be used in criminal trials because they are considered too unreliable. They may be surprised to learn that law enforcement still uses lie detectors as well as an equally dubious investigative technique known as Scientific Content Analysis. SCAN involves handing a suspect a pen and asking them to write down answers to a series of questions. Analysts then look at what suspects have written to determine whether they are being truthful.

The reliability of SCAN analysis is not supported by any empirical evidence, but the technique remains popular with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies across the country. The website of the company that developed the technique currently lists 417 police and military clients in the United States. SCAN proponents say the technique saves police time and money and is not designed to provide proof of guilt.

Study shows the racial divide in prisons is narrowing

The racial divide in state prison populations in Connecticut and around the country has narrowed considerably in recent years according to a recent report, but African Americans are still incarcerated at disproportionately high rates. The Council on Criminal Justice released its findings on Dec. 3. The nonpartisan group found that there are currently six African Americans behind state prison bars for every white inmate. That ratio was 9-1 about two decades ago.

The incarceration study reveals that racial disparities have also fallen among people on probation and parole. However, the researchers point out that much still needs to be done to address the mass incarceration of African Americans in the 1980s and 1990s. Most of the black Americans sent to prison during this time were convicted of violating the nation's drug laws and sentenced under the provisions of laws like the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.

THC cartridges are a new law enforcement challenge

Police departments in Connecticut and around the country are facing a new challenge in their fight against illegal drugs. Vaporizer cartridges containing liquid infused with THC are becoming extremely popular among marijuana users because they are convenient and do not produce the odor associated with smoking the drug, but they have been linked to serious health problems and dozens of deaths. According to an investigation conducted by the Associated Press, law enforcement agencies in the United States have seized more than 510,000 THC vaporizer cartridges in just the last two years.

Police have also arrested at least 120 people for making, distributing and possessing THC vaporizer cartridges. Some of the THC cartridges available on the streets of Connecticut are brought into the state from parts of the country where marijuana has been legalized, but most are made in basements, backrooms and warehouses using chemicals that can cause severe health issues. On Oct. 24, police in Wisconsin raided a condominium that was allegedly being used to produce between 4,000 and 5,000 THC cartridges every day.

Man charged with 93-year-old woman's murder

A homeless man is being held on a $2 million bond in connection with the killing of a 93-year-old Connecticut woman. The Stamford resident was found in her home by her daughter on Sept. 25. Police initially believed that she had fallen down a flight of stairs, but they began to suspect she was a homicide victim when they discovered that her purse was empty and a jewelry box in her bedroom had been pried open.

The investigation intensified after a medical examiner declared the woman's death a homicide. Police identified a suspect after studying footage that had been recorded by surveillance cameras in the area. On Sept. 27, police observed a man who appeared to be wearing the same clothing as the suspect in the surveillance camera footage. Officers say that they seized the man's clothes based on exigent circumstances after speaking with an assistant state's attorney. The man was charged with murder after forensic scientists allegedly discovered traces of the victim's blood on the man's pants.

Connecticut police claim suspect is a major drug dealer

Police in Connecticut say that a 48-year-old man taken into custody recently was identified during an investigation lasting several months as a major drug dealer in the Darien area. Officers from the Darien Police Department apprehended the man while executing a search warrant at his Old Farm Road residence on Nov. 12. He faces a raft of narcotics charges including multiple counts of drug possession and sale. He remains in custody at a Fairfield County detention facility on a $200,000 bond according to media reports.

The case was investigated by the DPD's Selective Enforcement Unit and Detective Bureau. During the course of the investigation, detectives and officers became convinced that the man was selling cocaine out of a bar on Tokeneke Road. Based on information gathered during the operation, a warrant was obtained to search the man's residence.

Teen convicted of murdering man in wheelchair

Connecticut readers might be interested to learn that a jury has found a 19-year-old Oklahoma City man guilty of second-degree murder for shooting a wheelchair-bound man to death in 2018. The verdict was handed down on Nov. 8.

According to court records, the defendant went to the man's apartment with a gun on the night of Oct. 3, 2018, to retrieve his brother's backpack. Witnesses said he was agitated and hostile when he arrived and ended up getting into a physical altercation with the man, who was paralyzed from the waist down, over the bag. During the struggle, the gun reportedly went off, and the man was shot in the chest. It was later discovered that the backpack also contained a gun.

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