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East Hartford criminal defense lawyerMemories can be surprisingly unreliable. This can be a difficult idea to swallow, since people often have strong emotions associated with the memories of their life experiences. However, even when a person believes that they have a strong memory that allows them to recall facts, people, or experiences, they often get the details wrong. People may misremember the order of events, inadvertently combine multiple memories, or even believe that someone else’s memories are their own. Unfortunately, even when memories are unreliable, people may strongly believe that they are correct. When a person’s memories are a key factor in a criminal case, this may lead to wrongful convictions. 

Far too often, criminal charges are based on eyewitness testimony, without any other supporting evidence. A testimony given by a victim or witness to a crime can be powerful, and a witness's identification of a suspect in a criminal trial can seem like incontrovertible truth, especially when strong emotions are involved. However, the unreliability of memory can easily cause a victim or witness to identify the wrong person. 

In fact, many witnesses are improperly influenced by police officers who have a particular suspect in mind. Officers may inadvertently or purposely indicate that they believe a certain person was the perpetrator when asking a witness to review photos or view a police lineup. This may affect people’s memories of events, causing them to believe that a suspect was involved in a crime. When a case is based on these types of memories, without other evidence, suspects may be falsely accused or convicted of multiple types of offenses.

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Hartford criminal defense lawyerPeople in the United States have a number of protections against unfair or illegal actions by law enforcement officials. These Constitutional rights include Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure. Under the Fourth Amendment, police officers or other officials generally cannot enter and search a person’s property without first receiving permission or obtaining a warrant. The First Amendment also protects the right to free speech and ensures that a person will not face retaliation for legal actions such as making a complaint. 

When these rights are violated in criminal cases or other situations, people may be able to take legal action to address the issue. Lawsuits may be filed seeking monetary compensation for civil rights violations, asking the government to take action against an official who committed a violation, and putting procedures in place to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future. However, due to a recent Supreme Court decision, the ability to pursue lawsuits in cases involving civil rights violations by federal agents may be limited.

How Egbert v. Boule Affects Claims Against Federal Officials

In the case Egbert v. Boule, Robert Boule, a man in northern Washington, had a history of smuggling people across the border into Canada. Erik Egbert, a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agent, suspected that Boule was planning to illegally transport a person who was visiting the area from Turkey. Egbert entered Boule’s property to investigate. When Boule confronted Egbert, Egbert threw him to the ground and injured him. Boule later made a complaint and Egbert retaliated by reporting him to agencies such as the IRS and the Social Security Administration, asking them to investigate Boule’s business.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1725082078-min.jpgDue to the availability of modern technology, people are under near-constant surveillance. Security cameras, traffic cameras, or other devices may capture footage of people in commercial buildings or other public places, and this footage may be turned over to law enforcement in cases where crimes allegedly occurred. However, more and more people are using cameras around their homes that may capture footage of others, including doorbell cameras produced by Ring (a subsidiary of Amazon) and other manufacturers. Recently, privacy advocates and those who are concerned about the overreach of law enforcement have raised concerns about when police may access footage from these cameras and how this footage may be used as evidence in criminal cases.

Amazon May Release Ring Doorbell Footage to Police Without Owners’ Consent

Doorbell cameras capture footage in a variety of situations, including when people activate a doorbell or when they are walking near a home. Law enforcement officials may believe that this footage may be helpful to identify people accused of committing crimes, and footage may also be used as evidence in a criminal case. However, police usually need to obtain a warrant before they can access footage, although they may also secure evidence with the permission of a doorbell camera’s owner.

Amazon has stated that it has policies in place to ensure that police can only access footage from Ring doorbells if they receive permission from users or if they obtain a warrant. However, inquiries from Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts revealed that Amazon may provide footage to law enforcement without permission from users in emergency situations. Unfortunately, the specific situations that may be considered emergencies have not been detailed aside from stating that they may involve the “imminent danger of death or serious physical injury.” Amazon also failed to detail its decision-making procedures in these matters, and it stated that these types of requests by law enforcement have been granted 11 times in 2022 alone.

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hartford criminal defense lawyerChildren deserve to grow up in a safe and healthy environment. Parents are not only required to provide for children’s needs, but they must also take the proper steps to protect them from harm. If parents fail to protect children from being injured, or if they are accused of intentionally harming children, they may face criminal charges for child abuse or neglect. However, there are many cases where parents may be falsely accused of child abuse, and they may be charged with crimes in situations where children suffered accidental injuries. 

How Shaken Baby Syndrome Can Lead to Child Abuse Accusations

Connecticut law states that a child may be considered to be abused if they suffer injuries that occurred through non-accidental means. A parent may also be accused of abuse if the explanations given for children’s injuries are inconsistent with medical findings regarding the probable causes of an injury. The law also requires “mandated reporters” such as doctors who provide treatment to children to report suspected child abuse to law enforcement.

Because the failure to report cases in which child abuse may have occurred can result in serious penalties, parents may be accused of abuse even in situations where there are reasonable explanations for children’s injuries. In many cases, reports of child abuse involve “shaken baby syndrome.” This condition, which is also known as abusive head trauma or AHT, may be diagnosed in cases where infants or children display symptoms such as swelling in the brain or blood in the eyes without other signs of trauma, such as bruises or broken bones. While there may be a variety of plausible explanations for these symptoms, such as a parent accidentally dropping an infant or a toddler falling down the stairs, a diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome is often seen as a sign of child abuse. 

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connecticut-weapons-crimes-defense-attorney.jpgPeople in the United States rely on multiple types of laws that are meant to protect their safety. These laws address dangerous behavior, criminal actions, and products that can cause people harm. Unfortunately, many feel that a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court has weakened some of these laws, which may put more people at risk of being injured or killed by guns. This ruling seemed to come at the worst possible time, as the nation is still reeling from multiple cases involving mass shootings of innocent people, including children, by people who had obtained guns legally. 

Court Strikes Down New York Concealed Carry Law

In June of 2022, the Supreme Court ruled on the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Assoc. v. Bruen, which addressed a state-level law in New York that limited the situations in which people could obtain licenses allowing them to carry concealed firearms. Unlike most other states, New York’s law had required people who applied for concealed carry licenses to demonstrate “proper cause” for why they should be allowed to possess and use concealed firearms in public. The Supreme Court struck down this law, and the majority opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas stated that the law violated both the Second Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

This ruling deviates from other recent rulings in federal courts, which had tried to balance people’s individual rights with the need to protect public safety. The individual right to own firearms had only been addressed by the Supreme Court relatively recently. In a 2008 case, the Supreme Court ruled that individuals could own firearms for self defense and to protect their homes. When addressing the issue of carrying firearms in public, several lower courts had found that the rights of society were also important, and to protect public safety, states were allowed to pass laws limiting people’s rights to carry guns. However, Justice Thomas’s opinion stated that when addressing these issues, the “history and tradition” of the United States is the primary factor that should be considered, rather than public safety.

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