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Stamford Criminal Defense Law Blog

Do repeat offenders face higher sentences?

If you were facing a second or third time in the Connecticut justice system, it would be perfectly natural to be nervous about how your previous offenses and convictions might affect your current proceedings. The fact is that, if you received a conviction for a new crime, there could be a chance for enhanced penalties based on your previous record.

Of course, just because you made a few mistakes in your past would not automatically mean that you would receive a harsher sentence. There are many myths and anxieties you might have in the situation, but few of them would likely have a foundation in reality. 

A closer look at Connecticut’s ignition interlock device program

Losing your Connecticut driver’s license can make it hard to find and maintain gainful employment, and unfortunately, you can face additional hardships for some time even after you get your license back. Joseph J. Colarusso, Attorney at Law, recognizes that many Connecticut residents must have ignition interlock devices installed on their vehicles as part of the license reinstatement process, and he has helped many clients navigate this and related hurdles associated with regaining the right to drive.

According to the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles, the state may require that you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle if you lose your license due to driving under the influence or refusing a breath or chemical test. You will typically also need to install the ignition interlock device if you lose your license because of an incident involving vehicular manslaughter or vehicular assault.

If approved for Connecticut drug court, what can you expect?

Facing a Connecticut drug charge can be a very scary thing, because it may mean you have to pay fines, serve time and otherwise take accountability for your actions. In some cases, however, you may be able to take part in drug court as an alternative to having to serve time in jail or prison. Drug courts seek to help keep drug offenders from reentering the criminal justice system by helping them kick their drug addictions while still holding them accountable for their behavior.

According to the Connecticut General Assembly, whether you will be eligible for drug court will depend on certain factors, such as whether you have an existing criminal history and whether your crime involved violent behavior. If you are a nonviolent criminal offender and are able to determine that you are, in fact, eligible for drug court, it may benefit you to know what to expect from the program.

Repairing your reputation after a domestic violence conviction

When you were initially convicted for domestic violence in Connecticut you were not the same person as you are now. After serving your time behind bars and making the effort to seek professional help to overcome your violent tendencies, you are nearing your release and you desire to have a new lease on life. At The Law Offices of Joseph J. Colarusso, we have helped defend many people who have been in similar situations to yours. 

Perhaps one of the most challenging parts of being convicted of any crime is dealing with the damage to your reputation. Chances are people who were once close to you and respected you may no longer see you as someone who can be trusted. Reestablishing relationships and overcoming the opinions people have formed about you based off of your past will undoubtedly take time to reconcile. However, with determination and a resolve to be a better person, you may slowly begin to overcome the consequences of your past actions. 

What is a SCRAM bracelet?

After convicting you of a DUI in Connecticut, the courts want to ensure that you refrain from driving under the influence in the future. According to FindLaw, it is common for judges to order certain DUI offenders, particularly those who have demonstrated a severe alcohol problem, not to drink any alcohol. In the past, however, it has been difficult to enforce those orders. Monitoring for alcohol consumption required burdensome alcohol tests on a frequent basis that were inconvenient for everyone. 

Technological advancement has given rise to a method of monitoring and alcohol order enforcement, called the SCRAM bracelet. SCRAM is an acronym that stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring. The SCRAM bracelet has the capability to detect residual alcohol in your sweat. You wear it around your ankle at all times, and it records data. In some cases, you may need to download the data from the bracelet manually, but other SCRAM bracelets come with their own modems that can transmit the information to a regional monitoring center approximately once every hour. 

What is a paraphernalia charge?

It may surprise you to learn that drug charges in Connecticut do not always involve actual drugs. You may also face charges for paraphernalia, which, according to the Connecticut General Assembly, is anything that is used to grow, deliver, use or prepare drugs. This may cover a large range of items, but it must be shown that you intended to use drugs with the item or otherwise engage in drug activities associated with the paraphernalia.

Do note that if the drug in question is marijuana, you may not be charged with a crime. Paraphernalia charges associated with marijuana are often considered infractions, which are more minor charges. In association with other drugs, though, this type of charge can be a misdemeanor or felony. In addition, if your activities are close to a school, you may end up with a harsher sentence. Typically, if it is determined your charges are related to a drug factory situation, where you are making a large amount of drugs and operating a large-scale operation for distribution, then you will face felony charges and more severe sentences.

Defining intoxicated manslaughter

Although manslaughter results in the death of a human being, the Legal Dictionary explains that manslaughter is not the same as murder. Murder requires the perpetrator to have acted with a malicious intention, while manslaughter, while it can also be intentional, includes other circumstances that may have provoked the killing other than malice. When it comes to intoxicated manslaughter, alcohol is the culprit for instigating the death of a person in Connecticut and can carry stiff penalties.

According to FindLaw, Connecticut law divides manslaughter into several different categories. Death resulting from a person acting intentionally to inflict severe injuries or from reckless behavior that was indifferent to human life is classified as first-degree manslaughter. Second-degree manslaughter occurs when a person deliberately assists a person to commit suicide or causes that person to take his or her own life. Some people may commit first or second degree manslaughter with a firearm.

Innocent man placed behind bars

In 1989, a Connecticut man received a 50-year prison sentence after being convicted of first-degree sexual assault, felony murder and third-degree burglary. He spent nearly 20 years in prison before DNA evidence showed he was innocent of the crime. According to the Innocence Project, unvalidated forensic science methods were used and the erroneous findings were admitted to the court as evidence in the case. Furthermore, unreliable informants made false statements saying the innocent man had admitted to the crime, prompting law enforcement officials to arrest the man and bring charges against him.

When the defendant’s attorney wished to provide information to the jury regarding the false statements made by anonymous informants, he was denied and not able to present the case. Fingerprint analysis showed that the accused man’s fingerprints did not match any at the crime scene and hair analysis also eliminated the suspect as a positive match for hairs that were found at the crime scene. After examining the rape kit, the perpetrator was shown to be a non-secretor, which is consistent with 20 percent of all men. The suspect just happened to be a non-secretor as well. Although the jury was equally divided at first, they came back with a guilty verdict and the man was placed behind bars.

Scientific evidence may lead to false convictions

In many criminal cases, forensic science is used to either prove or disprove information involving the crime. According to the Innocence Project, more than 350 cases have been overturned by the court because DNA evidence proved that the person was innocent of committing a crime. Of those 350, nearly 45 percent involved misapplication of forensic science.

The problem lies in the fact that not all scientific methods used to process evidence have been validated as providing accurate and reliable results. For instance, there is not sufficient research that shoeprint analysis is a valid method, as it may not provide consistent results. Furthermore, methods that have been validated may be misread, contaminated or processed erroneously to provide inaccurate results as well. For example, DNA evidence could produce false positives. This bad data can be used in criminal court and may lead to the conviction of an innocent person.

What is a certificate of employability?

If you have been charged and convicted of domestic violence, you may have trouble passing a criminal background check to get a job. This can have far-reaching effects on your life as many employers require a clean criminal background before they will hire you. Luckily, in Connecticut, you have the option of getting a Certificate of Employability.

According to the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles, a Certificate of Employability can help ensure your domestic violence conviction does not stop you from being employed. It makes it illegal for an employer to deny hiring you based on your conviction alone. With many employers making job offers that are conditional upon your background check, this can really help you to avoid being told you cannot be hired due to your conviction.

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