Connecticut Criminal Law & Injury Blog

Hartford domestic violence defense attorneySince late March, the state of Connecticut, much like the rest of the country, has been in lockdown. The state’s stay-at-home order has prevented certain non-essential businesses from conducting in-person operations, and people may only leave their homes to perform essential tasks. For some families, this order has kept them safe. However, for families where domestic violence is a concern, this order may not have had the same effect. Connecticut domestic violence activists are concerned that victims are unable to receive the services they need, and those who are seeking protection or who need to defend against accusations of domestic violence may face difficulties in having their cases heard in court.

Has the Pandemic Increased Domestic Violence Calls?

According to the president and CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV), calls to police regarding domestic violence increased by around 52 percent in early April of this year when compared to a similar period of time in early March. However, some law enforcement reports show that family violence calls decreased in the first two weeks of April 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. Municipal and state police reported that there were 495 family violence calls placed in the first half of April, compared to 519 calls placed during the same period in 2019.

The pandemic has also affected the services available for victims. The state of Connecticut only has 227 licensed emergency beds for domestic violence victims, and these are now almost completely full. Thanks to a $15,000 grant from an anonymous donor, hotel rooms have been provided for an additional 29 victims.

Reduced Court Services

Part of the issue with domestic violence during this pandemic is the fact that many courthouses are closed or are operating at a reduced capacity. This has made it harder for some people to request restraining orders, according to the CCADV’s president. Only six of the 19 Connecticut state courthouses are open to process restraining orders, putting increased pressure on those courthouses to address these cases in a timely fashion.

According to a spokesperson for the state Judicial Department, all efforts are being made to protect victims of domestic violence. Judges are said to be using the same standard of review as they normally would when choosing to issue or deny restraining orders. Because these situations may be considered emergency cases, those who are seeking protection and those who need to defend against a restraining order should be able to have their cases heard, even with courts operating at a reduced capacity.

Speak With a Knowledgeable Connecticut Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

Domestic violence accusations are very serious. If you have been accused of this type of offense, or if a restraining order has been issued against you, you will need to work with an experienced attorney to determine how to handle your case during this time. To learn about your options for defending against these charges, speak with our Hartford, CT domestic violence defense lawyer today. Call our office at 860-290-8690 to schedule a free consultation.

Sources:

https://ctmirror.org/2020/04/23/covid-19-pandemic-bringing-greater-risk-for-domestic-violence-victims-activists-warn/

https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-news-coronavirus-domestic-violence-20200414-d2tl4yxuunahlmziqi5a6zxpre-story.html

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Connecticut sexual harassment defense lawyerIn 1972, the federal government of the United States passed what is known as the Educational Amendments Act, and one of the key provisions of this act is Title IX. This Act was quintessential in changing the landscape surrounding sexual misconduct in higher education in America. Title IX is a law that protects students from being discriminated against based on their sex when they are involved in educational programs that receive federal funding. Recently, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced a few new rules that will be included in Title IX, and these could potentially affect cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct at colleges and universities.

What Is Title IX?

Title IX is known for prohibiting discrimination based on sex. Specifically, Title IX states that no student is permitted to, “be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination…” solely based on their sex. Title IX applies to more than 16,500 local school districts and 7,000 colleges nationwide, in addition to various charter schools, libraries, and museums. Title IX is also known for prohibiting and punishing sexual harassment, which is considered a form of sex discrimination.

Changes to Title IX

Recently, some major changes to Title IX have been announced, and these will go into effect in August 2020. One of those changes includes moving away from the single-investigator model. Rather than having one person investigate an accusation of misconduct, decide what evidence to use, and produce a report recommending an outcome, the final decision-maker for a case must be a different person than the investigator.

University officials are no longer permitted to investigate allegations of misconduct unless the alleged victim or their parent/legal guardian initiates a complaint that could result in adjudication. Previously, officials were allowed to investigate alleged violations of Title IX, even if the alleged victims did not want to take disciplinary action. A finding of responsibility is only permitted to happen after a hearing takes place in which the accused has a chance to defend him or herself.

In addition, the definition of actionable sexual misconduct is changing. Previously, sexual harassment was defined as, “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.” That definition is being expanded to specify that conduct must also be offensive to a reasonable person, severe, and pervasive.

Our Connecticut Sexual Assault Defense Attorney Is Here For You

Accusations of sexual misconduct can have a severe impact on a person’s life, even if they do not face criminal consequences. Alleged offenders have the right to defend themselves against both criminal charges and disciplinary action imposed by schools, universities, and other organizations. If you have been accused of committing sexual assault, sexual harassment, or other forms of sexual misconduct, you should speak with a skilled Hartford, CT sex crime defense lawyer right away. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we can help you understand your rights and provide you with the defense you need. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 860-290-8690.

Sources:

https://reason.com/2020/05/06/betsy-devos-title-ix-due-process-college-sexual-misconduct/

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/tix_dis.html

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/05/07/education-department-releases-final-title-ix-regulations

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Hartford criminal defense lawyer illegal video recordingSince the beginning of March, many states across the United States have enacted closures for non-essential businesses and stay-at-home orders for residents. The number of people who are now working from home and students who are attending school through online classes has skyrocketed. Many of these people have been using online video conferencing services such as Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams. The use of these programs has been beneficial for people, but the legalities surrounding these services has been brought into question. Specifically, when is it legal to record someone in Connecticut, and could a person face criminal charges for making an illegal recording?

Who Must Be Aware of the Recording?

There are two stances that are common across the country when it comes to the legality of recording conversations. Some states are “two-party” consent states, which means that all parties involved in the conversation being recorded must be aware of the fact that the recording is taking place and must consent to it. The majority of states, however, are “one-party” consent states, meaning it is legal to record a conversation as long as one party consents to the recording.

In Connecticut, the legality of a recording depends on the circumstances of the situation. When recording an in-person conversation in which the parties are physically present in the same location, only one person needs to be aware of and consent to the recording. If none of the parties are aware of the recording, the person making the recording could be charged with eavesdropping, which is a Class D felony. Connecticut Class D felonies can result in up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

When recording a telephone conversation, all parties need to be aware that the recording is happening. If all parties are not aware of and consent to a recording, the person making the recording could be charged with eavesdropping. Notably, the charge of eavesdropping does not apply to “wiretapping” by police officers or other law enforcement officials that is done as part of the lawful performance of their duties.

What About Video Recording?

Connecticut’s eavesdropping law does not specifically mention video recording. However, Connecticut law also defines the offense of voyeurism, which occurs when a person knowingly films, videotapes, or records the image of a person without that person’s consent in circumstances where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. This offense is a Class D felony.

Many police officers are required to wear and use “body cams” that may record conversations or interactions with members of the public. However, Connecticut law specifies certain situations where an officer is not allowed to intentionally record someone, including people undergoing medical or psychological evaluations or treatment, anyone other than the suspect of a crime when wearing a body cam in a hospital or medical facility, or any recordings in a mental health facility, except when an officer is responding to a call in which a suspect is thought to be located at a facility. In addition, body cam recordings made at the scene of incidents involving domestic violence or abuse or recordings of victims of homicide, suicide, or accidents cannot be disclosed to the public if this would result in an invasion of personal privacy.

It is also important to note that under Connecticut law, it is legal to make a video recording of a police officer who is performing their duties, and officers are not allowed to interfere with those who make these types of recordings. A law enforcement agency may be held liable for interference with someone taking a photo or video of a police officer, unless the officer had reasonable grounds to believe that the person was violating a state law or local ordinance or the officer was acting to protect public safety, preserve the integrity of a crime scene, or protect another person’s privacy.

To avoid potential charges for making a recording without authorization, all parties should be informed and aware that the video recording is taking place. That consent is built into most video conferencing platforms. For example, Skype users see a banner across the top of their screen that informs them if the call is being recorded. Similarly, Zoom requires all participants to click a consent button before a recording can begin. Even with these features, the safe thing to do before recording any video footage is to verbally inform all participants that a recording will be happening and gain their consent.

Contact a Connecticut Criminal Defense Attorney

If you record someone without their consent, you could be facing serious criminal charges. It is illegal to record a telephone or video conversation without receiving permission from all parties involved, and failure to obtain consent could result in felony charges. If you are facing accusations of eavesdropping, voyeurism, or other charges related to illegal recording, you should speak with a Hartford, CT criminal defense lawyer right away. Contact our team at the Woolf Law Firm, LLC today by calling 860-290-8690 for a free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_952.htm#sec_53a-187

https://www.law360.com/articles/1264341/consider-legal-ramifications-before-recording-video-calls

https://www.cga.ct.gov/2015/ACT/PA/2015PA-00004-R00HB-07103SS1-PA.htm

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Connecticut quarantine violation lawyer coronavirus COVID-19The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States is increasing by the day, and some states have started to take more serious measures to prevent the spread of the infection. A majority of the states in the country have some sort of quarantine or stay-at-home order that prohibits people from leaving their homes except for work or travel that is deemed “essential.” In an unprecedented development, some states have even begun to implement coronavirus checkpoints to screen travelers as they come in and out of the state. Those who are planning to travel should be sure to understand their rights and be aware of the potential criminal consequences they could face for a violation.

Checkpoints Intend to Stop Spread of Coronavirus

Some states are stopping all vehicles that have out-of-state license plates and requiring them and their passengers to sign a form promising that they will self-quarantine for 14 days. Rhode Island, Florida, and Texas are also requiring travelers to provide an address where they will quarantine and a warning that they could be subject to an unannounced follow-up visit from public health officials at any time. Those who violate the quarantine requirements could face fines or even criminal charges.

States are still allowing travelers to enter and have not denied anyone entrance, though some smaller communities have. The Florida Keys and the Outer Banks in North Carolina have begun to deny non-residents entry into their communities. Everyone who tries to get into these communities is asked for their ID. Unless they have a local address or other proof of residency, they are denied entry.

Some Have Questioned the Constitutionality of These Traffic Stops

Restrictions on travel have led to increased frustrations during this difficult time, especially for those who are already struggling with financial difficulties due to the pandemic. In response to these checkpoints, a lawsuit has been filed against a county in North Carolina by six out-of-state residents who stated that these policies are preventing them from getting to their vacation homes or rental properties. In Rhode Island, the ACLU has stated that traffic stops in and out of the state were initially only conducted on vehicles with New York license plates, though the practice has now been expanded to all out-of-state license plates.

Contact a Hartford Criminal Defense Attorney

In these uncertain times, it can be difficult to navigate the changing laws and the restrictions that different government organizations are putting in place. While the measures that have been implemented in many jurisdictions are meant to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, they can also infringe upon your rights as a U.S. citizen. If you are facing potential criminal charges related to coronavirus restrictions, you should speak with a Connecticut criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The Woolf Law Firm, LLC can help you understand your rights and provide you with the defense you need. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 860-290-8690.

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/covid-19-checkpoints-targeting-out-of-state-residents-draw-complaints-and-legal-scrutiny/2020/04/14/3fc0ed42-774e-11ea-b6ff-597f170df8f8_story.html

https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/covid-19-checkpoints-at-state-and-local-borders-bring-lawsuit-aclu-warning

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/28/us/coronavirus-rhode-island-checkpoint.html

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