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hartford defense lawyerThe first few months of the school year are sometimes referred to as the “red zone” for sexual assaults on college campuses. More than 50 percent of campus sexual assaults occur during this time. There are a variety of reasons why more assaults may occur at the beginning of the school year, including the common use of alcohol by students as they enjoy living away from their parents’ homes. In 2021, this is an issue that may not only affect first-year students but also others who were unable to attend college in person over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why Students May Commit Sexual Assault Without Realizing it

Attitudes about consent have changed in recent years. In the past, sexual assault prevention efforts were often focused on what victims could do to prevent being assaulted, such as being aware of their alcohol use, avoiding provocative outfits, or ensuring that a friend is close by. However, advocates have begun to focus on preventing assaults by ensuring that people obtain consent before engaging in sexual conduct. 

However, even with these changing attitudes, some students may engage in behavior that may be considered assault without realizing it. In many cases, this is due to a culture that treats sex as something that is too embarrassing to discuss while presuming that men are meant to be sexually aggressive and that women have the responsibility to decide whether to engage in sexual activity. Without the proper education regarding appropriate behavior and attitudes toward sex, students may follow their instincts or bow to peer pressure, leading to situations where one person may pressure another into sex, commit unwanted touching or groping, or engage in sexual conduct with a person who is unable to provide consent.

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hartford criminal defense lawyerAdvocates for criminal justice reform have called attention to a number of practices by police officers and prosecutors that can result in suspects being wrongfully convicted of criminal charges. The approach that is often taken by police officers when interrogating suspects is one issue that has affected people in many cases. Officers are allowed to lie to suspects and use other deceptive practices during interrogations, and this has led many people to be convicted based on false confessions. Fortunately, some states are beginning to pass laws meant to protect suspects from these techniques.

New Laws Prevent Police From Lying When Interrogating Minors

Since a Supreme Court ruling in 1969, police officers have been legally allowed to lie to suspects during interrogations. This ruling was based on a case where police officers had lied to a suspect, stating that someone else had confessed and implicated him in a crime. The court found that the fact that the officers had lied was not sufficient to make the suspect’s voluntary confession inadmissible. Unfortunately, this opened the door for all manner of deceptive practices by police officers.

Police officers will often approach an interrogation with the presumption that a suspect is guilty, and they will use any practices they feel are necessary to elicit a confession. In many cases, police will lie to suspects about the evidence against a person, falsely claim that other people have made statements implicating them, or imply that a suspect will receive leniency if they cooperate. Interrogations may last for several hours, and officers will attempt to wear down a suspect to the point that they make a false confession simply to get out of the situation. According to the Innocence Project, around 30 percent of cases where people are exonerated after being wrongfully convicted involve false confessions.

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connecticut criminal defense lawyerIn Connecticut and many other states, people who have been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) or related offenses such as vehicular manslaughter are required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their vehicle. This device requires a driver to give a breath sample, and it will prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is above a certain level. These devices can be inconvenient for drivers, but many people believe that they are necessary to ensure that drivers who have violated drunk driving laws in the past will protect others’ safety. However, a new law may require that similar devices be used in many more vehicles, even for drivers with a clean driving record.

Infrastructure Bill Contains Provisions for Drunk Driving Monitoring Systems in New Vehicles

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which is currently being considered in the U.S. Congress, includes provisions that would require all passenger vehicles manufactured after 2027 to be equipped with “advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology.” This is one of several types of automotive safety technology that the bill would mandate, and others include automatic braking and crash avoidance systems and systems meant to prevent leaving children unattended in hot cars.

There are several concerns about how drunk driving prevention technology would work in practice. Unlike the IIDs that are required to be used by those who have been convicted of DUI, the technology mandated in the bill would be passive, meaning that it would monitor a person’s BAC and performance without the need for the driver to take any additional actions. Some detection systems that are currently being developed monitor alcohol levels in a driver’s breath by measuring the air in a vehicle’s cabin, while others use touch sensors to measure blood alcohol levels when a driver presses a button to start the vehicle. While these devices may work in theory, it remains to be seen whether they will reliably prevent drunk driving or whether they may lead to false positives that would prevent a person from driving a vehicle even when sober.

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connecticut criminal defense lawyerDefendants in criminal cases will often struggle to determine how they can protect their rights, respond to accusations by police officers and prosecutors, and resolve these matters in a way that will allow them to avoid being convicted or reduce their potential consequences. While all defendants may experience difficulties as they determine how to defend against criminal charges, minorities are likely to face more serious charges and consequences. A recent report that showed how Connecticut’s legal system is biased against minorities demonstrates the importance of working with an experienced attorney to defend against criminal charges.

Criminal Case Dispositions for Minorities in 2020

The Connecticut legislature has required prosecutors to collect demographic information about defendants and provide annual reports on the dispositions of criminal cases. The report for 2020 showed that while the total number of criminal cases decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the same types of disparities continued to affect minorities as in previous years. Findings of the report included:

  • While white people make up 67 percent of Connecticut's population, they only accounted for 46 percent of the dispositions in criminal cases. 11 percent of people in Connecticut are Black, but Black defendants accounted for 28 percent of criminal dispositions. Hispanic people make up 17 percent of the state’s population, but they accounted for 23 percent of criminal dispositions.

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East hartford criminal defense lawyerThe COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of everyone in the United States. Even though most people have been able to take steps to protect their health and safety, people who are serving sentences in prison have struggled to avoid the risks of infection. To address the risks that inmates face, the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has allowed for the release of thousands of prisoners, placing them on home confinement during the pandemic. However, the future status of these prisoners is uncertain, and many are concerned that they may be required to return to prison. Convicted offenders and their family members may need to consult with a criminal defense attorney to determine whether they can take legal action to address this issue.

Prisoner Release Under the CARES Act

In March of 2020, Congress passed the CARES Act, which provided multiple types of relief to people who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the provisions of this act allowed for the early release of federal prisoners. This option was usually available for nonviolent offenders who had served at least half of their sentences and who met criteria such as good behavior during their sentence or a high risk of health complications due to COVID-19. 

After being released, prisoners have been able to continue serving their sentences while under home confinement. Most of the time, prisoners have been required to wear an electronic monitor such as an ankle bracelet. Prisoners may also be restricted to traveling only for work-related purposes, and they may be required to submit to regular drug testing. While these restrictions can be strict, home confinement has allowed many prisoners to reconnect with their family members, obtain employment, and pursue education.

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