Connecticut Legislature Passes Multiple Laws Affecting Criminal Justice

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hartford criminal defense lawyerThe Connecticut Senate and House of Representatives recently ended the 2021 legislative session, and multiple new laws were passed that will affect criminal cases in the state. While advocates for criminal justice reform have praised some of the changes that were made, they have identified several issues that they believe still need to be addressed. By working with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney, those who are facing criminal charges can ensure that the state’s laws will be applied correctly in their case.

New Laws Related to Drug Crimes, Domestic Violence, and Criminal Records

The laws passed by the Connecticut legislature address issues such as:

  • Clean slate - Convictions for non-violent misdemeanors and certain types of lower-level felonies will be erased from a person’s criminal record if they are not convicted of any other crimes for seven or 10 years after completing their sentence.

  • Drug-free zones - Connecticut’s current laws allow for enhanced penalties if a person is accused of committing an offense such as drug possession within 1,500 feet of a school, daycare center, or public housing project. In many cases, this means that people in entire neighborhoods or communities were affected by more serious penalties, even for lower-level offenses. A new law will decrease this distance to 200 feet.

  • Domestic violence - The state’s definition of domestic violence has been expanded to include “coercive control” that interferes with a person’s liberty and free will. Coercive control may involve actions such as isolating a person from friends or family members, depriving them of necessities, intimidating them by harming or threatening to harm pets or other animals, forcing or threatening them to engage in or abstain from certain conduct, or controlling their movements, communication, and behavior.

  • Solitary confinement - The Connecticut Department of Corrections will have limitations on when prisoners can be placed in isolated confinement and how long this confinement can last. Whenever possible, de-escalation measures and less-restrictive methods should be used to prevent prisoners from being harmed.

  • Juvenile justice - Children under the age of 10 can no longer be arrested and face criminal charges. While juvenile criminal records will not be automatically expunged, children will be provided notice upon reaching the age of 18 that they can petition the court to have certain types of records erased.

One notable law that did not pass is a measure legalizing recreational marijuana. This is an issue that lawmakers have promised to address in a special session. On June 15, 2021, the Connecticut Senate passed a bill that would legalize adult use of recreational cannabis. However, Governor Ned Lamont has promised to veto the bill in its current form because it does not give priority for marijuana-related business licenses to those who have been most affected by the “war on drugs.” 

Contact Our Hartford Criminal Defense Attorney

The changing laws in Connecticut may play a role in issues such as the types of criminal charges a person may face or the consequences of a conviction. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you will need to secure representation from an experienced attorney who has a complete understanding of the laws. The Woolf Law Firm can assist with your case and help you build an effective defense strategy. To get the legal help you need, schedule a free consultation with our Connecticut criminal defense lawyer by calling our office at 860-290-8690.

Sources:

https://ctmirror.org/2021/06/11/criminal-justice-reform-in-the-2021-legislative-session-here-are-the-bills-that-passed-and-those-that-didnt/

https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/senate-passes-marijuana-bill-but-lamont-vows-a-veto/2509029/

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