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.

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Hartford criminal defense attorney for DUI chargesOver a million Americans are arrested each year for alcohol-impaired driving. Though each state has its own procedures for performing DUI arrests and prosecutions, most arrests follow a similar process. First, a person is pulled over, and the officer may perform a variety of field sobriety tests. Then, the officer may ask a driver to blow into a portable device to get a preliminary reading of their breath-alcohol concentration, and the results of this test will be used to determine whether to make an arrest. Following an arrest, the driver will be transported to the police station, where he or she will be asked to submit to a “more accurate” breath test. However, recent investigations have found that these tests are often not so accurate after all.

Why We Should Question the Tests

The fates of many DUI cases are often sealed with the breath test. Portable breath tests, like the ones used on the roadside by police officers, are usually not admissible in court, but results from the machines that are used at the police station can be used as evidence. If the machine returns a breath-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, a person may face a conviction for DUI. Further, many people are pressured into submitting to these tests because penalties exist if testing is refused. In Connecticut, a person who refuses to submit to a chemical test faces a one-year driver’s license suspension with the requirement that an ignition interlock device be installed on any vehicle they drive during the suspension period.

Machines Are Often Found to Be Inaccurate But Are Used Anyways

In an investigation conducted by a small consulting company and reported by the New York Times, the Alcotest 9510 breathalyzer machine has been found to have many errors, even though it is still being used by many states’ police departments, including in Connecticut. The report written by the company stated that the machine was simple and only relied on two sensors that could detect the presence of alcohol. It also stated that the machine largely relied on proper calibration to produce reliable and accurate results and that a calculation error within the machine could round up some results.

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East Hartford criminal defense lawyer for juvenile chargesThe juvenile justice system has always functioned differently than the adult criminal justice system -- and for good reason. Since the creation of the first juvenile justice court in Illinois at the end of the 19th century, it has been known that youth who come into contact with the criminal justice system have different needs than adults who find themselves in trouble. All states have a separate criminal justice system for juveniles, though in recent years, an increased focus has been placed on reducing the number of juveniles who come into contact with the criminal justice system. In an effort to follow suit, Connecticut recently passed a law to make certain juvenile trials are more private.

Reduced Charges Can Be Transferred Back to Juvenile Court

The new law, Public Act 19-187, changes quite a few things concerning the juvenile justice system. Existing laws state that the juvenile court is required to automatically transfer a case involving a child who is at least 15 years old to adult court if the case involves murder, a Class A felony or certain Class B felonies. If a juvenile is charged with any other type of felony, it is up to the court’s discretion to transfer the case or not.

The Act allows a case that was transferred to adult court to be transferred back to juvenile court if the charges were reduced to charges that would have been discretionary. Before the transfer can take place, however, it must be proven that the transfer was done for a good reason, and the transfer must be completed before the defendant pleads guilty.

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Hartford criminal defense lawyer for pardons and deportationIn the United States, immigration has always been a topic of interest, especially in recent years. For many years, immigration requirements have stated that an immigrant who commits certain crimes can lose their citizenship or residency status, and they may be deported by immigration enforcement officials. Immigration laws are complex, and there are many provisions relating to what happens when a non-citizen commits a crime, which is why help from a skilled criminal defense attorney is important in these types of cases.

English Immigrant Receives Pardon for Crimes

In a recent case, an English immigrant who was previously convicted of crimes is still being held in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Boston. ICE is still attempting to deport her, even though she received a full pardon for her crimes. The woman, who is currently a lawful permanent resident of the United States, was four years old when she came to the U.S. with her mother. The crimes that ICE is attempting to deport her for include misdemeanor retail theft charges and a felony larceny charge.

Hartford Woman Still Faces Deportation

Connecticut’s Attorney General has been fighting to stop the deportation that ICE is insisting on. ICE has been trying to deport the woman since 2012. In March of 2019, ICE detained the woman, and one day later, the state of Connecticut issued a full and unconditional pardon for her crimes. ICE is arguing that Connecticut’s pardon does not absolve the woman of her crimes, because the pardon was not granted by the state’s governor, but rather by the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles.

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Hartford assault charges defense lawyerCrimes committed against members of the LGBTQ community have risen slightly over the past three years. According to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), most hate crimes are based on bias toward race and religion, but the number of hate crimes (which may include assault or other violent crimes) based on sexual orientation has risen each year between 2014 and 2017. In 2017, there were 1,130 hate crime incidents reported to the FBI that were based on sexual orientation. In some cases, when the alleged offenders are prosecuted, their defense attorneys use what is called the “gay panic” defense. In recent years, this defense has been outlawed in many states, and Connecticut recently joined the group of states who do not consider the gay panic defense as a legitimate defense strategy.

What Is the “Gay Panic” Defense?

A person who allegedly committed assault or murder against a person may claim that they did so because of the alleged victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This type of strategy may involve claims of insanity or diminished capacity that occurred due to an interaction with a person who is gay or transgender. An alleged offender may also claim that they were provoked to commit a violent offense because of sexual advances made by the alleged victim. The gay panic defense is often seen as blaming the alleged victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity for the alleged offender’s actions. Those who oppose the use of this defense have stated that it may be used to justify and excuse the assault or murder of LGBTQ victims.

Lawmakers Seek to Ban the Gay Panic Defense

Currently, eight states have passed legislation to effectively ban the use of the gay panic defense, with five of those states passing the legislation in 2019. Connecticut’s governor signed a bill banning the use of this defense in June of 2019. He stated that this legislation was necessary because the use of this defense strategy implies that the lives of gay and transgender individuals are less important than the lives of others. Members of the U.S. Congress are currently attempting to introduce legislation that would ban this defense in federal court. Legislation banning the gay panic defense has also been introduced in seven other states and the District of Columbia.

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