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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.

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Connecticut criminal defense lawyer for pardonsAccording to statistics from the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles, there were 1,857 applications for pardons in 2018. Of those applications, only 983 were deemed eligible for pardon, and of those deemed eligible, only around 77 percent were actually granted. Lingering records from previous criminal cases can cause difficulty in many areas of life, including making it harder for a person to find a job or get housing. Because of this, a bill was introduced in the Connecticut legislature last year to help make the process a little easier for those who wish to expunge their criminal records. The bill failed to pass during the last legislative session, but Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont plans to reintroduce it in the upcoming session.

Proposed Bill Would Make it Easier to Get a Pardon

People who have criminal records face barriers to housing, employment, and education, even if years have passed after their sentences have been completed, and they have not had any more offenses. Because of this, Gov. Lamont will be pushing for legislation that would create a process to clear criminal records automatically.

The bill that was introduced last year proposed creating a system for automatic pardons and expungement of criminal records three years after a misdemeanor sentence had been served and five years after a felony sentence had been served. That bill faced backlash about what crimes would be eligible for automatic pardons, with lawmakers expressing concern about those convicted of violent crimes and crimes of a sexual nature. The newer version of the bill has addressed these concerns by barring those convicted of sex crimes or offenses related to domestic violence from receiving an automatic pardon.

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