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connecticut crimnal defense lawyerCOVID-19 has affected the lives of everyone in the United States in a variety of ways. People have been forced to make adjustments in multiple areas of their lives, and many people and organizations are working to return to normalcy while dealing with ongoing health concerns. These issues have also affected the court system, and courts were closed for a significant amount of time in 2020 and 2021 to protect people’s safety. While in-person trials have resumed, ongoing issues related to the pandemic have affected court proceedings and jury verdicts. Those who are involved in criminal trials or civil litigation (including personal injury cases) can make sure these issues are addressed correctly by working with an experienced attorney.

Changes in Jury Makeup and Voting

The state of Connecticut has resumed jury trials as of June 1, 2021. To ensure that all participants in a trial, including jurors, judges, plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses, attorneys, and court officials, will be safe, multiple protective measures have been implemented. Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be provided to everyone who needs it. Courts will also provide face shields for witnesses, ensuring that jurors and attorneys will be able to observe their facial expressions as they provide testimony.

While courts have taken steps to protect people’s safety, the policies they are following during the pandemic and the ways people are responding to jury summons may affect the fairness of trials. In many cases, courts are excusing unvaccinated people from jury duty. Because men are less likely to be vaccinated than women, and vaccination rates are lower for minorities, this means that juries are less likely to be representative of the population as a whole.

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connecticut criminal defenseWhen a person is convicted of criminal charges, they will face certain penalties. Depending on the nature of the offense, the person’s previous criminal record, and other factors, they may be sentenced to time in prison, required to pay fines, or face certain restrictions during a period of probation. However, there are a variety of other collateral consequences that can affect those who have been convicted of crimes. A criminal record can make it difficult or impossible for a person to find employment, housing, or education. To address this issue, the state of Connecticut recently passed a “clean slate” law that will allow some convicts’ records to be cleared once they have completed their sentences.

Automatic Clearing of Records for Certain Crimes

Currently, convicts in Connecticut are able to clear their criminal records by applying for a pardon. Depending on their offense and whether any victims have an interest in the case, a person may be required to attend a hearing before the Board of Pardons and Paroles. The process of applying for a pardon can be complicated, and many convicts struggle to clear their records and move forward with their lives.

Under the new clean slate law, certain types of criminal convictions will be automatically cleared from a person’s record after a certain amount of time has passed. Misdemeanor offenses will be expunged after seven years have passed since the date of the conviction. Class D and E felonies or unclassified felonies may be expunged after 10 years, as long as a person’s prison sentence was no more than five years. However, automatic expungement will not be available for those convicted of offenses involving family violence or sex crimes (including both violent and non-violent offenses).

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connecticut injury lawyerEveryone should be able to use the road safely, whether they are inside a motor vehicle, on foot, or using other forms of transportation. In recent years, the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians has been a concern due to an increase in the number of pedestrian and bicycle accidents. The state of Connecticut has attempted to address this issue by passing a new law that is meant to provide additional protection for people who are crossing the street or riding bicycles or other forms of transportation near parked vehicles. This law went into effect on October 1, 2021.

New Requirements for Yielding to Pedestrians

Connecticut drivers are required to yield to pedestrians who are crossing the road at a crosswalk. Previously, this requirement applied once a pedestrian had stepped off of a curb or entered a crosswalk. Under the new law, a pedestrian is considered to be crossing the road if they are within any portion of a crosswalk, if they have stepped to the edge of a curb and indicated their intent to cross the road by raising their hand or arm, or if they move any part of their body or an extension of their body into a crosswalk. An extension of a pedestrian’s body may include a cane, crutch, wheelchair, bicycle, stroller, or cart, as well as a dog that is on a leash or using a harness.

Drivers are required to yield the right of way to pedestrians who are crossing in crosswalks, including slowing down or stopping as necessary to ensure that a person can cross the road safely. If a vehicle has stopped to grant the right of way to pedestrians, any vehicles approaching from the rear are prohibited from passing the vehicle that is stopped.

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hartford sex crime defense lawyerPeople who are convicted of criminal charges often struggle to reintegrate into society after they have served their sentences. This is especially true for those who are convicted of sexual assault or other sex crimes. In these cases, a person may be required to become a registered sex offender, and they will be placed in a public database that includes their photo and description, their address, and details about their offense. Registered sex offenders may have trouble finding employment and housing, and they may experience other issues that affect their reputation and personal relationships. To address this issue, the Connecticut Sentencing Commission is looking to create legislation that may allow some offenders to be removed from the sex offender registry.

Potential Changes to the Sex Offender Registry

The Connecticut Sentencing Commission is an independent agency that researches and reviews the state’s criminal justice system and makes recommendations about potential reforms. The Commission’s Collateral Consequences subcommittee has been looking into the issue of the state’s sex offender registry, and it is hoping to create a proposal for legislation that may affect some offenders who face consequences due to being listed in the registry.

Connecticut residents who are convicted of sexual offenses may be required to register as sex offenders for 10 years or for life. Lifetime registration is required for people convicted of crimes involving sexual violence, and it may also apply to those who are convicted of other sexual offenses for a second time. Currently, the state does not allow people with the requirement to register for life to be removed from the registry.

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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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