b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_84312832.jpgOver the past decade, advocates for criminal justice reform have worked to highlight problems in the justice system, and some government officials have begun to implement progressive policies meant to address these issues. Unfortunately, the rates of violent crime have increased over the past couple of years, and this may affect efforts to reform the justice system. As more people become concerned about violence, they have begun to elect prosecutors and other officials who promote “tough on crime” policies. This may make it more difficult for those who are facing criminal charges to receive fair treatment and avoid serious penalties.

Concerns About Crime and Lenient Policies

In recent years, people throughout the United States have been made aware of inequities in the justice system. The Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted the abuses that police officers often commit against minorities and people of color. Organizations such as the ACLU have worked to educate people about the uphill battle that many people face when they are charged with crimes, the lengthy sentences that apply even for low-level offenses, and the collateral consequences that can affect people’s lives when they are convicted. As a result, several states have begun to make reforms, such as by reducing or eliminating cash bail or limiting the types of cases where minors may be charged as adults. Some prosecutors have also made efforts to address these issues, such as by pursuing shorter sentences or limiting prosecutions for non-violent offenses.

Unfortunately, these efforts may encounter obstacles due to recent trends in criminal activity. The rates of murder and other violent crimes have increased significantly over the past few years. There are many possible reasons for this increase, including difficulties that people have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and increases in the number of firearms purchased. However, even though progressive policies may not be directly related to the number of crimes that are being committed, some people believe that officials who are soft on crime may be responsible. As a result, prosecutors throughout the country are facing challenges such as recalls or efforts by voters to elect officials who are tougher on crime.


hartford criminal defense lawyerWhile the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to affect the people’s lives in many ways, one issue that has become a concern is the significant increase in the murder rate throughout the United States. Between 2019 and 2020, the U.S. saw the largest increase in number of murders committed since the 1990s, and the murder rate increased again in 2021. There are a number of possible reasons for this increase, and because so many people may be affected by this issue, it will be important for those involved in these cases to understand how to address potential criminal charges.

Murder Statistics and Potential Reasons for These Trends

In 2020, the total number of murders in the United States increased by nearly 30 percent, with a total of over 21,000 murders. This increase affected people throughout the country in both large cities and areas with lower populations. However, Black people were much more likely to be affected. Nearly half of murder victims in 2020 were Black, and during this time, Black people were eight times more likely to be murdered than white people. While complete data on murders for 2021 have not yet been released, some preliminary data indicate that murders may have increased as much as 15 percent since the previous year.

Even though the specific reasons for the increase in murders is not fully understood, experts believe that there are three primary issues that have led to an increase in violent crime:


hartford criminal defense lawyerMost people are aware of the potential consequences that they may face if they are accused of violating the law. A conviction on criminal charges can result in significant fines, jail time, probation, or other penalties, depending on the severity of the offense and the circumstances surrounding a case. However, many people do not realize that law enforcement officials may also seize people’s money or property, and this is sometimes done without a person ever being accused of or charged with a crime.

Understanding Civil Asset Forfeiture

Federal and state laws allow police officers or other law enforcement officials to seize assets that they believe are connected to a crime, including cash, vehicles, homes, or other property. If police officers have a “reasonable” belief that these assets were obtained through the proceeds of a crime, were used to further criminal activity, or were otherwise related to an alleged violation of the law, these assets can be confiscated. However, in many cases, these forfeitures occur even when a person is never officially charged with a criminal offense.

While officials often claim that civil asset forfeiture is used against drug dealers or others who are involved in serious crimes, they are much more likely to target low-income people and those who do not have the financial resources to challenge this type of seizure. One investigation found that the average amount seized by law enforcement is $1,276. In many cases, police departments keep the money or property seized through civil asset forfeiture for their own use, giving officers the incentive to confiscate cash or other valuable property whenever possible. 


Hartford larceny defense attorneyThere are many situations in which an action could legally be considered theft. In the state of Connecticut, theft is typically referred to as larceny, and all of the laws pertaining to theft use this term. Connecticut statutes state that larceny occurs when a person takes, obtains, or withholds property from its owner with the intent of permanently depriving the owner of the property. Larceny in Connecticut includes actions such as embezzlement, extortion, theft of services, shoplifting, and even receiving stolen property. Certain actions are charged in Connecticut as misdemeanor larceny crimes, but charges can also be elevated to felony larceny charges, depending on the circumstances surrounding the situation.

Larceny in the Third Degree

The first level of felony larceny charges, larceny in the third degree, occurs when a person commits larceny and the property:

  • Is a motor vehicle worth less than $10,000;
  • Is worth between $2,000 and $9,999;
  • Is a public record, writing, or instrument; or
  • Is a sample, culture, record, or document that contains proprietary information.

Third-degree larceny is a Class D felony, which means it carries up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.


Connecticut criminal defense attorney for digital evidenceThe Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that all citizens have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government without a warrant. This provides protection against unfair tactics by prosecutors when a person is facing criminal charges. However, in the 21st century, the increased use of digital media has resulted in a slew of complexities in criminal cases. The Fourth Amendment was written to protect the privacy of American citizens, but what happens when your private digital files are no longer private to only you? In some cases, the “private search doctrine” may apply.

What Is the Private Search Doctrine?

Using the private search doctrine, once a private party (who is not involved with the government) has already done an initial search, the government can repeat that search without infringing upon the property owner’s individual Fourth Amendment rights. Basically, the private search doctrine allows the government to perform a search that is not technically a search in the Constitutional sense.

A Recent North Carolina Case Sparks Controversy

In 2014, a North Carolina woman was looking for a photograph on her boyfriend’s USB thumb drive. While she was clicking through folders and subfolders on the drive, she came across a partially-nude photo of her nine-year-old granddaughter. Upset, she stopped her search and informed her daughter of the photo. The pair took the thumb drive to the police station, where a detective began to look through the folders to find the photo the woman was referring to. While the detective was looking, he saw other photos that he thought might be child pornography. Once he found the photo of the woman’s granddaughter, he stopped his search and obtained a warrant to search the thumb drive for photos of child pornography.

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