Hartford criminal defense lawyer for police misconductOver the past several years, a great deal of attention has been paid to the issue of police misconduct. In several high-profile cases, police officers have been accused of using excessive force, especially against minorities. This was most recently highlighted in the case of Daunte Wright, who was killed by a police officer during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. This particular case has highlighted an issue that affects many Black people and other minorities. Police officers often pull people over for minor traffic violations, but these incidents may lead to more serious criminal charges, and an encounter may turn deadly, resulting in serious injuries or death.

How Police Use Traffic Stops as “Fishing Expeditions”

Traffic stops are meant to protect public safety, and police officers may stop a driver who has committed traffic violations such as speeding, running a red light, making illegal turns, or other unlawful actions that endanger others on the road. However, officers may pull people over for other types of violations, such as an expired registration or a broken tail light. 

In many cases, traffic stops for minor violations are used as an attempt to find probable cause for other more serious offenses, and people of color are disproportionately targeted in these types of situations. In the case of Daunte Wright, the officer cited him for having an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, stating that this was an obstruction that affected his view of the road. Many people have alleged that police officers perform these types of traffic stops in hopes of uncovering criminal activity that will allow them to make an arrest. By using a minor traffic violation as a pretext, officers may then ask about whether a driver has stolen the car or whether they have been using drugs, and they may arrest the driver based on their answers, their behavior, or the officer’s observations of objects inside the vehicle.

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Connecticut criminal defense attorney for facial recognitionTechnology is always improving, and as computers get faster and more efficient, more and more people have welcomed these devices into their homes and used them in nearly every aspect of their lives. However, many people do not realize the full extent that these systems play both on the personal level and in society at large. One issue that has affected people in recent years is the increased use of facial recognition technology in criminal cases. Police officers and law enforcement officials regularly use these tools to identify suspects and make arrests, but the limitations of technology and the biases built into these systems may result in wrongful arrests or convictions.

Problems With Facial Recognition

The use of automated facial recognition tools has become widespread in the United States, and unfortunately, it is not always clear when law enforcement is allowed to use this technology. Regulations vary from state to state, and while some cities have banned the use of facial recognition by police officers, most states have not placed any limitations on when or how these tools can be used.

Police may use facial recognition in a variety of ways, such as by comparing photos of suspects with a state’s database of driver’s license photos or a city or state’s collection of mug shots of people who have previously been arrested. In some cases, law enforcement officials may even use tools sold to them by private contractors that search through photos that are available online, such as on social media sites like Facebook or Instagram.

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Hartford, CT criminal lawyer courthouse dogsMany people enjoy the companionship of pets, and dogs or other animals can provide a great deal of comfort to those who struggle with emotional issues. Because of this, therapy dogs are being used in a wide variety of situations, such as hospitals, schools, and, increasingly, courthouses. While some have advocated for the use of these animals to provide comfort to witnesses, others have raised concerns about how this practice could affect the fairness of criminal cases.

Courthouse Dogs and Sympathy for Witnesses

Some courts have begun the practice of using therapy dogs to assist witnesses. These dogs, which may be referred to as “courthouse dogs” or “facility dogs,” are professionally trained by an accredited organization to ensure that they can remain calm in a wide variety of locations and situations, including crowded public spaces, elevators and stairways, and the presence of children. Facility dogs are meant to provide quiet companionship to witnesses without disrupting courtroom proceedings. In Connecticut, courts have the discretion to permit dogs to provide comfort and support to testifying witnesses.

Advocates for the use of courthouse dogs believe that their use will help alleged victims and vulnerable witnesses have access to justice. These dogs may provide comfort to those who have allegedly faced traumatic experiences, such as sexual assault or domestic violence, helping them express themselves when testifying. Facility dogs may also provide benefits for children who have allegedly suffered abuse or neglect and people who are developmentally disabled.

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Connecticut criminal law attorney for defendant rightsNobody likes it when other people are not truthful with them. Most people value honesty, and they believe they can tell when someone is lying. However, spotting lies is often much more difficult than one would expect, and even so-called experts who study human behavior have a poor track record of determining when people are not telling the truth in real-world situations. While the inability to recognize lies can be troublesome in people’s daily lives, this issue becomes even more serious when a person is facing criminal charges. Law enforcement officials often build cases against suspects based on their perceptions of whether a person is telling the truth, and during a trial, a judge or jury may base their decisions on whether they find a defendant or a witness to be trustworthy. People’s biases play a significant role in these cases, and this can lead to unjust results.

Research Demonstrates the Difficulty of Detecting Lies

There are a variety of ways that “experts” believe they can recognize when a person is lying. Some believe that people’s “microexpressions,” such as an inadvertent raising of the eyebrows or a slight upturn of the corner of the mouth, betray a person’s true feelings when they are making untrue statements. Others look at a person’s body language and claim that actions such as shrugging the shoulders, shifting the legs, or looking away from a person while speaking are indications of lying.

Some researchers have stated that they have high success rates of detecting lying when performing studies. However, the experiments conducted in laboratories are very different from real-life situations, and outside the lab, experts are usually unable to replicate these results. The average person is even less likely to accurately detect lies; one study found that people were only able to detect lies 54% of the time, which is only slightly better than if they had made guesses based purely on chance. This is true even for people such as police officers or judges who are supposedly experienced in dealing with people who lie. Studies have found that these professionals are no better at detecting deception than anyone else.

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Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney for false confessionsThose who are accused of committing crimes will often be unsure about their rights and the procedures followed when they are arrested and questioned by police officers. Unfortunately, this puts many people at a serious disadvantage, and they may say or do things that could be used against them in a criminal case. In far too many cases, police officers manipulate suspects into confessing to crimes that they did not commit, leading to convictions and lengthy prison sentences for those who are innocent. 

It is impossible to know how many people throughout the United States have been convicted based on false confessions. However, The Innocence Project, which has used DNA evidence to exonerate hundreds of people who have been wrongfully convicted, reports that false confessions were a factor in 29% of these cases. Those who are facing criminal charges or accusations will want to be sure to understand their rights and the ways they can avoid incriminating themselves.

Police Officers Are Allowed to Lie to Suspects

In most cases, false confessions occur because police officers mislead suspects or tell outright lies. The “Miranda rights” that protect suspects in the United States allow a person to decline to speak to police officers, while also giving them the right to have an attorney present during an interrogation. However, while police officers are required to inform suspects of these rights, they are not restricted from making misleading or false statements during an interrogation.

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