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East Hartford criminal defense attorneysThere is little question that 2020 has been difficult on all of us. However, certain segments of the population have been disproportionately affected, including communities of color, according to a prominent group of business professionals. With this in mind, the group—called the Business Roundtable—issued a series of recommendations earlier this week regarding both corporate and public policies, including many related to criminal justice, to improve racial justice and equity moving forward from the recession, COVID-19 pandemic, and police violence protests of 2020.

The Business Roundtable is an organization that consists solely of chief executive officers of major American companies. Together, the represented companies employ more than 15 million workers and report over $7 trillion in yearly revenues. The CEOs that comprise the Business Roundtable are from all 50 states, and they work with communities, policymakers, and workers “to build a better future for the nation and its people.”

A Multi-Faceted Agenda

The recommendations that were released this week addressed six main areas of concern: education, employment, finance, housing, health, and the U.S. justice system. The justice system recommendations are largely focused on offering second chances to individuals looking to improve their lives despite having a criminal record. Some highlights of the recommendations include:

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Connecticut criminal defense attorneyOver the last few years, the issue of excessive force by police officers has become one of national focus and attention. In many circles, the phrase “police brutality” is used instead of “excessive force.” Following several high-profile situations caught on camera in which criminal suspects died in interactions with the police, lawmakers in Connecticut decided it was time to take definitive action.

On October 1, 2020, a series of new laws took effect throughout the state. These new statutes have been referred to in reports as “police accountability laws” because they address various types of behaviors by police officers. One of the new laws directly pertains to the use of excessive force by the police and the duty of officers to intervene when they witness the use of excessive force.  

Connecticut Police Academy Issues Guidance Memo

A week before the new laws went into effect, Karen Boisvert, the Administrator of the Connecticut Police Academy, issued a general notice to law enforcement officers across the state. The notice was addressed to police chiefs, training officers, protective services agencies, and resident troopers. The guidance notice summarized the portion of the statute that pertains to an officer’s use of force and laid out the expectations for all officers.

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East Hartford criminal defense attorneysWhen the police have reasons to believe that a person may have been involved with a crime, it is not uncommon for an officer to initiate a traffic stop in order for the officer to investigate a little closer. Court interpretations of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution have held that traffic stops must be based on probable cause. This generally means that the officer must have seen the driver break a traffic law or observed indications that the driver was drunk, for example. But, what happens when once the driver is stopped? Can officers just decide to search the car to look for drugs, weapons, or other illegal items?

Probable Cause and Consent

Under the Fourth Amendment, courts have long required police officers to establish separate probable cause to justify a search of the vehicle during the traffic stop. In this context, “separate” probable cause means that the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the vehicle contains illegal items or evidence of criminal activity that is unrelated to the traffic violation for which the driver was stopped. Basic suspicion, including the driver’s reputation in the community or the time and location of the stop, is not usually sufficient to establish probable cause. Information from a tip, however, or the smell of drugs coming from the car could provide the probable cause the officer needs to conduct a search.

With all of this having been said, one of the most common ways for officers to get around the need for probable cause is to ask for the driver’s consent to search the vehicle. In many cases, the officer will ask directly, “Do you mind if I search your car? You don’t have anything to hide, right?” Other times, the officer may be more subtle, saying something to the effect of, “I’m sure it will amount to nothing, but you don’t mind if I have a quick look, do you?” If the driver gives his or her consent, the probable cause requirement no longer applies.

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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney trial penalty

Being charged with any type of crime in the state of Connecticut can be a scary and anxiety-ridden experience for many people, especially if this is your first time being involved in the criminal justice system. Many people have an idea in their head of how the process works from watching movies and television shows, but the actual criminal prosecution process is much different. In fact, most cases involving criminal charges do not even go to trial. Many times, prosecutors will end up offering the defendant a plea agreement, which would require a guilty plea in exchange for a lesser sentence than they would receive if they dispute the charges. However, this has created a new issue, dubbed the trial penalty.

Understanding Trial Penalties

If you are formally charged with a crime, you will then have the option of pleading guilty or not guilty. A majority of the time, a “not guilty” plea will result in the prosecutor offering you a plea deal, which is an agreement that typically requires you to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence than what you would likely receive if you proceeded to trial. The difference between the sentences is often staggering, too, forcing defendants to take deals for fear of risking longer sentences.

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East Hartford, CT personal injury attorney wrongful death

The term “wrongful death” is exactly what you would expect it to mean -- it refers to the untimely death of a person due to the negligence of another person. Dealing with death is difficult, but it can prove to be especially challenging if you know that your loved one’s death was due to the negligence and carelessness of another person. Fortunately, Connecticut has wrongful death statutes that allow you to collect compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering if he or she had not died in the accident. Wrongful death cases can be complicated, which is why it is recommended that you get help from a personal injury lawyer if you are seeking compensation for your loved one’s untimely death.

Available Damages to Claim in Wrongful Death Cases

The entire premise of a wrongful death lawsuit is to allow a person’s family members to file what is essentially a personal injury lawsuit in the place of the deceased. Before any damages are awarded, the court must determine whether or not there is actually a case for negligence. If the defendant is determined to be held liable for a person’s wrongful death, they may be ordered to pay certain damages. These types of claims can be brought against someone after a fatal car crash or slip-and-fall accident. In some cases, a driver may have been intoxicated or a property owner failed to maintain a safe and secure environment for guests.   

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