shutterstock_557897101Most people are familiar with the term “double jeopardy,” or they have probably at least heard of the concept. Protection against double jeopardy is written into the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that “no person shall...be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…” Basically, this provides U.S. citizens with protection against being tried more than once for the same crime. This issue typically arises when a person allegedly commits a criminal offense in more than one state or jurisdiction. Recently, the Supreme Court dealt with this issue by looking at whether or not those facing criminal charges could be tried for the same crime in both state and federal courts.

Recent Supreme Court Case Upholds Precedent

The case that made it to the Supreme Court dealt with a man who is currently a federal prison inmate. The Alabama man appealed to the Supreme Court after he was charged on both the state and federal level for possessing a gun after a previous felony robbery conviction. On the state level, he was sentenced to one year in prison. When tried for the same crime on the federal level, he was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison, a sentence that was to run concurrently with the other sentence.

The man appealed to courts until the case found its way to the Supreme Court. In a vote of 7 to 2, the Supreme Court voted to uphold the exception to the double jeopardy rule, citing the dual sovereignty doctrine. Only two justices opposed the ruling, stating that the exception should be reconsidered.

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Hartford defense attorney criminal justice system

For years, advocates have claimed that the criminal justice system in the United States is unjust toward certain groups of people. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one in three black men and one in six Latino men can expect to be incarcerated in their lifetimes, compared to only one in 17 white men. A majority of the country agrees that the U.S. criminal justice system needs to be reformed. One of the main ways of doing this is through the actions of prosecutors, who play a crucial role in the criminal justice process.

Bill Passes in Both CT House and Senate

A bill was recently passed in both the Connecticut Senate and House of Representatives that will require more transparency when it comes to Connecticut prosecutors in the criminal justice system. The bill, which was passed with a rare unanimous vote in both the House and Senate, will require the state to create a public website to publish information such as demographic information about defendants that prosecutors do and do not prosecute, in addition to information about prosecutors’ actions on charging, diversionary programs, plea deals, and sentencing.

The Significance of Prosecutors

Many people believe that prosecutors hold the key to criminal justice reform in the United States. Prosecutors are responsible for many different decisions that are made during the criminal justice process. They determine whether or not a charge is changed or dropped, whether or not a plea deal is offered to a defendant, whether or not bail is recommended, how a case is investigated, and whether or not defendants get the opportunity to participate in diversionary programs, such as drug court.

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Hartford, CT criminal law attorney bailMost people have a basic understanding of how the criminal process works: you are charged with a crime, you must appear in court, a judge or jury determines whether or not you are guilty, and if you are convicted, you serve your sentence. But what happens before any of that even begins? Before you can appear in court to address criminal charges, you will have to attend a pretrial release hearing. During this hearing, a judge will determine whether or not to release you before your trial and whether there should be any conditions on your release. Typically, this is where bail comes in to play.

What Is Pretrial Detention?

The term pretrial detention refers to the period of time that a person is incarcerated before they attend their trial. At the pretrial release hearing, the judge will set bail, which is a monetary amount that you must pay before you can be released. In Connecticut, there are two different types of bail:

  1. A person may pay the amount of bail in cash. This amount will be returned to the accused as long as they return to court for their trial; otherwise, the money is forfeited.
  2. If a person is unable to afford the full amount of bail, they may have a bail bondsman post bail for them. They will be required to pay a surety bond to the bail bondsman, which is typically 10% of the amount of bail. Bail bondsmen can be used in state crimes, but they cannot be used by those who are arrested for a federal crime.

The Issues With the Current Bail and Pretrial Detention System

Between 1970 and 2015, there was a 433% increase in the average number of people in pretrial detention throughout the United States. Bail is one of the biggest reasons for this increase. The average amount of bail for a felony charge ranges from $10,000 to $12,000. Since many people cannot afford to pay this amount, they end up spending weeks or even months in jail while waiting for their trial to take place.

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Hartford sexual assault charges defense attorneyMost people understand that forcing someone to have sex with them when they clearly do not want to is wrong. This crime is called sexual assault or rape, and it is addressed in each state’s laws, though the definitions, situations, and punishments for sexual assault differ from state to state. A fairly new issue in the laws concerning sexual misconduct is the idea of “rape by fraud.” This idea may sound far-fetched, but it has happened before -- and more than once.

A Case of Sexual Deceit

In 2017, a Purdue college student fell asleep in her boyfriend’s dorm and was woken up by a person she thought was him who prompted sex from her. She soon realized that the person was not her boyfriend, but was, in fact, one of her boyfriend’s friends who had sex with her, knowing that she thought he was her boyfriend. The woman went to the police and pressed charges of sexual assault. The imposter was arrested and charged with two counts of rape, which carried a sentence of 3 to 16 years in prison. However, the state of Indiana does not specifically have laws pertaining to “rape by fraud,” and the alleged perpetrator ended up being acquitted of the charges and having his criminal record expunged.

The Issue With Consent

One of the biggest issues that can complicate cases involving sexual deceit is the fact that consent is rarely defined in sexual assault laws. Most states do not have an explicit definition of what constitutes consent, including Connecticut. The states that do have definitions for consent will typically describe it as positive cooperation in act or attitude where a person exercises their free will and has knowledge of the act that is happening. Without an explicit definition, consent is often a gray area. A person may be interpreted as having given consent in a wide variety of circumstances, ranging from a lack of physical struggle to explicit positive affirmation.

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Connecticut criminal defense attorney immigration deportationThroughout much of the country’s history, the United States government has used the criminal justice system to prevent certain immigrants from entering the country and to deport immigrants already in the U.S. The term “moral turpitude” first appeared in the Immigration Act of 1891, and this and other laws have held immigrants to a high moral standard. The Immigration Act of 1996 added even more vague language surrounding crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT), and it gave law enforcement agencies and state officials the ability to broadly define these types of crimes in immigration cases.

What Is a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude?

According to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), a crime involving moral turpitude is “an act which is...morally reprehensible and intrinsically wrong.” The BIA has also stated that a CIMT is any crime that involves conduct that is “inherently base, vile or depraved, and contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between people or to society in general.” Many officials have pointed out that the definitions of CIMTs are very broad and that there are no specific crimes that are always classified as CIMTs.

Crimes involving moral turpitude are determined on a case-by-case basis, though crimes involving the following tend to be classified as CIMTs:

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