Connecticut Criminal Law & Injury Blog

East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorneyThe coronavirus pandemic has forced everyone to take a step back and make temporary changes to how things are run, but some Connecticut officials suggest looking into making more permanent changes to the system. One of the most simple changes that has been proposed is simply granting all criminal defendants the right to waive all nonessential court appearances, as long as they are represented by an attorney. The current Practice Book provides for modified procedures if a defendant waives his or her right to a court appearance, although it is not an option for all defendants at all times.

Reasons to Allow Court Appearances to Be Waived

Criminal court cases are notoriously long and complicated processes that can take months, if not years to complete. During the length of the case, the defendant is required to appear at each and every court date. However, that practice is rather repetitive because one of the purposes of a defendant’s arraignment is to determine if that person poses a flight risk. Other ways this requirement impedes the system include:

  • Forcing all defendants to be present can really slow down the efficiency. You cannot just walk into a courthouse. Most courthouses have some sort of security or metal detectors that you must go through before you can gain entrance. Hundreds of people, such as defendants, their family members, lawyers, and others are processed through to wait until their case is called. It is not uncommon during a criminal case for you to be notified that a court date has been rescheduled after you have been waiting for hours.

  • Too many people present in courthouses can pose a risk. Now, during the coronavirus pandemic, packing too many people into small courthouses can pose a health risk to everyone involved. When people are intermingling with one another, touching shared objects, and sharing close quarters, the risk of getting sick is suddenly increased simply by being at the courthouse for a court date that might not even accomplish anything.

  • Having to be present for every single court date is very inconvenient for defendants. Every time you have to be at court in person, that is another day that you have to take off of work or school, or find childcare for your children. If you do not have a vehicle, you also have to figure out how to transport yourself to the courthouse on time for every appearance. If you miss a court date or you are late for a court hearing, you could face serious consequences, even if it was not a hearing that decided anything.

Contact an East Hartford, CT Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have never been involved in the criminal justice system before, the entire process can be scary and overwhelming at times. With a knowledgeable Hartford, CT criminal defense lawyer by your side, you can have peace of mind knowing that your best interests are always kept in mind. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we have provided legal assistance to clients in various areas for more than 20 years. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 860-290-8690.

Source:

https://jud.ct.gov/COVID19.htm

 

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Connecticut custodial interference defense lawyerWhen you are a parent, your child’s health and well-being is always at the top of your list of concerns. You always want to be sure that your child is safe, but you cannot always be there for them, especially if you share your parenting time with your child’s other parent. Custodial disputes between parents do not always end with compliance. In some cases, a parent may try to flee with a child or keep the child from seeing their other parent. In these situations, that parent could be charged with parental kidnapping, which is called “custodial interference” in Connecticut.

Connecticut Custodial Interference Laws

While Connecticut laws do not specifically refer to parental kidnapping, there are, however, laws that are a bit more general, defining the offense of “custodial interference.” There are two degrees of custodial interference under Connecticut law, and these offenses may apply to all relatives of a child who is under the age of 16, rather than just the parents. If neither parent has custody of a child or children, a parent cannot be charged with custodial interference unless the other parent seeks an expedited sole custody order, and this order is granted by the court.

Custodial Interference in the Second Degree

For a parent to be guilty of custodial interference in the second degree, they must have either taken or enticed the child from his or her “lawful custodian” when they had no right to do so, with the intention of keeping the child permanently or for an unknown period of time, or they must have held, kept, or refused to return the child to his or her lawful custodian after the custodian has requested the child’s return.

This crime is charged as a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a possible prison sentence of up to one year. A conviction for a Class A misdemeanor could also result in a fine of up to $2,000.

Custodial Interference in the First Degree

For a situation to be considered custodial interference in the first degree, the parent must have committed the crime of custodial interference but under circumstances that expose the child to a risk that his or her safety will be compromised. A parent can also be charged with custodial interference in the first degree if they take, entice, or detain the child out of the state of Connecticut.

This is charged as a Class D felony, which carries a possible prison sentence between one and five years. If you are convicted of a Class D felony, you could also face up to $5,000 in fines, in addition to court costs and fees.

Contact a Hartford, CT Parental Kidnapping Defense Lawyer Today

Criminal cases involving children are extremely serious in nature. The penalties for committing crimes against children are usually severe, and they are often enforced to their greatest extent. If you are facing charges of custodial interference, you should contact a skilled Connecticut criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we can help you determine the best defense strategy against these charges, and we will fight to protect your freedom and your parental rights. To schedule a free consultation, call our office at 860-290-8690.

Sources:

https://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_952.htm#sec_53a-97

https://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_952.htm#sec_53a-98

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1204

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Hartford domestic violence defense attorneySince late March, the state of Connecticut, much like the rest of the country, has been in lockdown. The state’s stay-at-home order has prevented certain non-essential businesses from conducting in-person operations, and people may only leave their homes to perform essential tasks. For some families, this order has kept them safe. However, for families where domestic violence is a concern, this order may not have had the same effect. Connecticut domestic violence activists are concerned that victims are unable to receive the services they need, and those who are seeking protection or who need to defend against accusations of domestic violence may face difficulties in having their cases heard in court.

Has the Pandemic Increased Domestic Violence Calls?

According to the president and CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV), calls to police regarding domestic violence increased by around 52 percent in early April of this year when compared to a similar period of time in early March. However, some law enforcement reports show that family violence calls decreased in the first two weeks of April 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. Municipal and state police reported that there were 495 family violence calls placed in the first half of April, compared to 519 calls placed during the same period in 2019.

The pandemic has also affected the services available for victims. The state of Connecticut only has 227 licensed emergency beds for domestic violence victims, and these are now almost completely full. Thanks to a $15,000 grant from an anonymous donor, hotel rooms have been provided for an additional 29 victims.

Reduced Court Services

Part of the issue with domestic violence during this pandemic is the fact that many courthouses are closed or are operating at a reduced capacity. This has made it harder for some people to request restraining orders, according to the CCADV’s president. Only six of the 19 Connecticut state courthouses are open to process restraining orders, putting increased pressure on those courthouses to address these cases in a timely fashion.

According to a spokesperson for the state Judicial Department, all efforts are being made to protect victims of domestic violence. Judges are said to be using the same standard of review as they normally would when choosing to issue or deny restraining orders. Because these situations may be considered emergency cases, those who are seeking protection and those who need to defend against a restraining order should be able to have their cases heard, even with courts operating at a reduced capacity.

Speak With a Knowledgeable Connecticut Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

Domestic violence accusations are very serious. If you have been accused of this type of offense, or if a restraining order has been issued against you, you will need to work with an experienced attorney to determine how to handle your case during this time. To learn about your options for defending against these charges, speak with our Hartford, CT domestic violence defense lawyer today. Call our office at 860-290-8690 to schedule a free consultation.

Sources:

https://ctmirror.org/2020/04/23/covid-19-pandemic-bringing-greater-risk-for-domestic-violence-victims-activists-warn/

https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-news-coronavirus-domestic-violence-20200414-d2tl4yxuunahlmziqi5a6zxpre-story.html

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Connecticut sexual harassment defense lawyerIn 1972, the federal government of the United States passed what is known as the Educational Amendments Act, and one of the key provisions of this act is Title IX. This Act was quintessential in changing the landscape surrounding sexual misconduct in higher education in America. Title IX is a law that protects students from being discriminated against based on their sex when they are involved in educational programs that receive federal funding. Recently, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced a few new rules that will be included in Title IX, and these could potentially affect cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct at colleges and universities.

What Is Title IX?

Title IX is known for prohibiting discrimination based on sex. Specifically, Title IX states that no student is permitted to, “be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination…” solely based on their sex. Title IX applies to more than 16,500 local school districts and 7,000 colleges nationwide, in addition to various charter schools, libraries, and museums. Title IX is also known for prohibiting and punishing sexual harassment, which is considered a form of sex discrimination.

Changes to Title IX

Recently, some major changes to Title IX have been announced, and these will go into effect in August 2020. One of those changes includes moving away from the single-investigator model. Rather than having one person investigate an accusation of misconduct, decide what evidence to use, and produce a report recommending an outcome, the final decision-maker for a case must be a different person than the investigator.

University officials are no longer permitted to investigate allegations of misconduct unless the alleged victim or their parent/legal guardian initiates a complaint that could result in adjudication. Previously, officials were allowed to investigate alleged violations of Title IX, even if the alleged victims did not want to take disciplinary action. A finding of responsibility is only permitted to happen after a hearing takes place in which the accused has a chance to defend him or herself.

In addition, the definition of actionable sexual misconduct is changing. Previously, sexual harassment was defined as, “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.” That definition is being expanded to specify that conduct must also be offensive to a reasonable person, severe, and pervasive.

Our Connecticut Sexual Assault Defense Attorney Is Here For You

Accusations of sexual misconduct can have a severe impact on a person’s life, even if they do not face criminal consequences. Alleged offenders have the right to defend themselves against both criminal charges and disciplinary action imposed by schools, universities, and other organizations. If you have been accused of committing sexual assault, sexual harassment, or other forms of sexual misconduct, you should speak with a skilled Hartford, CT sex crime defense lawyer right away. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we can help you understand your rights and provide you with the defense you need. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 860-290-8690.

Sources:

https://reason.com/2020/05/06/betsy-devos-title-ix-due-process-college-sexual-misconduct/

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/tix_dis.html

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/05/07/education-department-releases-final-title-ix-regulations

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