Connecticut Criminal Law & Injury Blog

East Hartford family violence defense attorneyDomestic violence is a serious social issue that has received increased attention in recent years. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 10 million people become victims of some form of domestic violence each year in the United States. Because of these harrowing statistics, an increased focus has been placed on prosecuting domestic violence offenders. While this is a valiant effort by lawmakers and law enforcement officials, those who face accusations of domestic violence can have a difficult time proving their innocence and dealing with the effects that these charges can have on their relationships, family life, and reputation. If you have been accused of domestic violence, there are a few things you should do to help your situation.

Connecticut Domestic Violence Laws

In Connecticut, domestic violence is referred to as “family violence.” Connecticut statutes define family violence as any act between family or household members that results in physical injury or creates reasonable fear that physical injury will occur. Family and household members can include:

  • People who are related by blood
  • People who are married or used to be married
  • Roommates or former roommates
  • People who are currently dating or used to date
  • People who have a child in common

The state of Connecticut does not charge domestic violence as an offense separate from other criminal charges. Rather, a violent crime that is perpetrated against a family or household member can be denoted as a family violence offense. An alleged offender will be subject to the sentencing guidelines for the specific crime they are charged with, such as:

  • Assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Threatening
  • Stalking
  • Strangulation
  • Kidnapping

Those accused of family violence should also be aware that a protective order or restraining order may be filed against them. This type of order may prohibit an alleged offender from committing any further acts of family violence, and it may impose requirements or restrictions, such as staying away from the family home or paying child support or spousal support. A person who violates a civil restraining order may be held in contempt of court, and violation of a criminal protective order is a Class D felony, which may result in a prison sentence of one to five years. A person accused of family violence will also be required to surrender any firearms they own, and they may be required to attend a family violence education program.

Being Proactive About Accusations of Family Violence

If you have been accused of domestic violence, your response should be immediate and swift. Charges of violent crimes such as assault or battery could result in serious consequences, including large fines and a prison sentence. Even if you are not convicted, an accusation of family violence could lead to an investigation by the Department of Children and Families, which may affect your child custody rights. These charges could also affect your reputation in the community, your interpersonal relationships, and your ability to work in certain careers. To ensure that your rights are protected, you will want to work with an attorney to determine your best options for defense, including gathering evidence and obtaining witness testimonies to demonstrate your innocence.

A Hartford, CT Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer Can Help

Being accused of domestic violence is a very serious situation. Not only do you face criminal charges, but every other area of your life can be affected for years to come. If you have been charged with family violence, or if allegations of domestic violence have resulted in a restraining order being taken out against you, the best thing you can do is to immediately contact a Connecticut criminal defense attorney. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we know how important it is to be proactive about domestic violence charges, and we will work with you to protect your rights, your freedom, and your reputation. Call our office today at 860-290-8690 to schedule a free consultation.

Sources:

https://assets.speakcdn.com/assets/2497/domestic_violence2.pdf

http://www.ctcadv.org/information-about-domestic-violence/ct-domestic-violence-laws/

https://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_815e.htm#sec_46b-38a

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Hartford criminal defense lawyer for digital evidenceTechnology is a common and often unavoidable presence in today’s world. Think about your own life; how often do you use your cell phone? What do you use your cell phone for? If you have ever used apps like Google Maps or Apple Maps to get from place to place, your location has been recorded. Even if you delete phone calls or text message conversations from your phone, the records of these conversations still exist. When it comes to criminal cases, technology has become a commonly-used source of evidence.

Cell Phones and Types of Evidence

Almost everything you do on your cell phone is recorded and stored. Information about any calls you make, any text messages you send, and any apps you use can all be accessed on your cell phone, even if you have attempted to delete those records. There are many different types of cell phone data that can be used in criminal cases, including:

  • History from your internet browser
  • Email messages (when they were sent, who they were sent to, and their content)
  • Call records, such as who you called and when
  • Text messages, what they contained, and who they were sent to
  • GPS and cell tower information, which can be used to attempt to determine the location of the phone

Defendants Often Have Trouble Retrieving Evidence

The United States criminal justice system was founded on the belief that those accused of committing a crime have certain rights. For example, the prosecution has the burden of proof in criminal cases, and prosecutors are required by law to reveal all evidence that they have against the defendant. Though these protections exist, defendants and their attorneys are often still at a disadvantage.

There are two major disadvantages that defendants and their attorneys have when it comes to digital forensic evidence. First, defense lawyers can only subpoena companies to turn over digital evidence, and in many cases, these requests are ignored. Prosecutors working for the government can issue warrants and court orders to gather information, giving them access to information that may not be available to the defendant. Second, digital forensic technology is often out of reach for defense attorneys, yet it is readily accessible to law enforcement and prosecutors.

Why Is This an Issue?

The biggest concern when it comes to digital evidence is the fact that very little effort has been made on the part of the government or digital forensics companies to make their equipment and services more available to defense attorneys. In many cases in which defendants have been accused of crimes, evidence that is contained on their cell phones or in wearable technology can hold the key to their innocence, but this data is often locked away and unable to be extracted by defense attorneys without a lot of work and significant amounts of money.

Contact a Hartford, CT Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you have been accused of a crime you know you did not commit, you may be surprised to learn that your cell phone could hold the key to your innocence. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we understand how modern criminal cases work, and we know the importance of digital evidence in building a defense. Our skilled Connecticut criminal defense lawyer can help you form a solid defense using our extensive knowledge of the criminal justice system and the digital evidence that is available. Call our office today at 860-290-8690 to schedule a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/22/business/law-enforcement-public-defender-technology-gap.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

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Connecticut criminal defense attorney for vehicular manslaughterIn Connecticut and throughout the United States, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol, illegal drugs, or other substances that impair one’s ability to drive safely. An arrest and conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) can result in a variety of consequences, including fines, jail time, community service, participation in diversionary programs, and/or the requirement to use an alcohol interlock device in one’s vehicle. However, the penalties can become much more severe if a person was killed in a collision that occurred while you were driving under the influence. While this offense is commonly known as “vehicular homicide,” in Connecticut, it is referred to as “manslaughter with a motor vehicle.”

Second-Degree Manslaughter With a Motor Vehicle

According to Connecticut law, you can be charged with manslaughter in the second degree with a motor vehicle if you are operating a vehicle while you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and as a result, you cause the death of another person. Manslaughter charges involve a degree of recklessness or negligence. Basic second-degree manslaughter charges require you to have “recklessly caused the death of another person.” The same principle applies to manslaughter with a motor vehicle charges, but in these cases, the element of driving while intoxicated will also be considered.

Penalties for Second-Degree Manslaughter With a Motor Vehicle

Manslaughter in the second degree with a motor vehicle is a Class C felony. Under Connecticut law, Class C felony convictions can result in 1 to 10 years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, or a combination of both. Because of the intoxication aspect of these charges, a conviction will also result in a mandatory one-year driver’s license suspension and the requirement that an ignition interlock device be installed on your vehicle for at least two years following the reinstatement of your driving privileges.

You Need Immediate Help From a Hartford, CT DUI Defense Attorney

Since second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle is a felony offense, the charges and potential penalties are very serious. In these cases, you need a strong defense attorney who can help you understand how to minimize the consequences you may face. Call a Connecticut criminal defense lawyer today to learn about your options. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we have more than 20 years of experience handling criminal cases at both the state and federal level, including those involving injury or death. Give our office a call at 860-290-8690 to schedule a free consultation today.

Sources:

https://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_952.htm#sec_53a-56b

https://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_952.htm#sec_53a-56

https://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_248.htm#sec_14-227a

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East Hartford criminal defense lawyer for illegal searchesMany of the laws in the United States were written hundreds of years ago, when the most advanced forms of technology available were bifocal eyeglasses and steamboats. In today’s world, where everything is at your fingertips in the form of a handheld device, the application of these laws can become tricky. In recent years, people have argued that their Fourth Amendment rights have been overstepped at U.S. border checkpoints. Millions of people travel in and out of the United States on a daily basis, and they may be subject to electronic device searches, whether they are U.S. citizens or not. The question is, are these searches legal?

Civil Liberties Advocates Argue for More Privacy

In recent years, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents have been searching more and more electronic devices at U.S. borders. In 2015, there were an estimated 8,500 searches conducted on electronic devices at the border. In 2018, there were 33,000 searches conducted, which is a three-fold increase. Many civil liberties advocates, most notably the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have argued that these searches are often done for no apparent reason and violate the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Federal Judge Rules in Favor of Privacy Advocates

In 2017, a lawsuit was filed against CBP by 11 people (10 of whom are U.S. citizens and one who is a lawful permanent resident) alleging that their electronic devices were taken by CBP, and their personal data was searched for no apparent reason. Recently, a federal judge in Boston ruled that CBP agents cannot take travelers’ electronic devices and conduct suspicionless searches. The U.S. has long asserted that it does not need to issue warrants to search devices at the border, but this judge has concluded that CBP agents must have reasonable suspicion and be able to point to specific facts to justify the search before a search is conducted.

Contact an East Hartford, CT Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you have ever traveled outside of the United States, you know how strict and systematic the procedures can be to pass through the border. In many cases, Customs and Border Patrol officers conduct searches without meeting strict standards, but they should not be allowed to search through your electronic devices without suspicion that there is evidence of illegal activity. If you are facing criminal charges because of what an officer found on your electronic device, you need to contact a Hartford, CT criminal defense lawyer right away. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we believe that all citizens deserve privacy under the Fourth Amendment. Contact our office today by calling 860-290-8690 to schedule a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.aclu.org/issues/privacy-technology/privacy-borders-and-checkpoints

http://news.trust.org//item/20191112201540-swfh2/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisettevoytko/2019/11/12/border-agents-cant-search-smartphones-and-laptops-without-reasonable-suspicion-court-rules/#485609962eef

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