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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney trial penalty

Being charged with any type of crime in the state of Connecticut can be a scary and anxiety-ridden experience for many people, especially if this is your first time being involved in the criminal justice system. Many people have an idea in their head of how the process works from watching movies and television shows, but the actual criminal prosecution process is much different. In fact, most cases involving criminal charges do not even go to trial. Many times, prosecutors will end up offering the defendant a plea agreement, which would require a guilty plea in exchange for a lesser sentence than they would receive if they dispute the charges. However, this has created a new issue, dubbed the trial penalty.

Understanding Trial Penalties

If you are formally charged with a crime, you will then have the option of pleading guilty or not guilty. A majority of the time, a “not guilty” plea will result in the prosecutor offering you a plea deal, which is an agreement that typically requires you to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence than what you would likely receive if you proceeded to trial. The difference between the sentences is often staggering, too, forcing defendants to take deals for fear of risking longer sentences.

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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have been felt by nearly every single person living in the United States at one point since the start of it all back in March. Even if you never actually got the coronavirus yourself, you likely had to alter your usual routine in some way because of the pandemic. For a length of time, Connecticut’s judicial system was running on minimum operations with the majority of courthouses closed to the general public to adhere to the Governor’s statewide shutdown order. As the courthouses have begun to reopen and the judicial system has begun to increase its caseload, many people are wondering when and how criminal jury trials will proceed. In many jurisdictions, cases that do not involve juries, such as divorces and other civil cases, have been successfully settled using virtual means. Some have wondered if that is paving the way for the inevitable: virtual criminal jury trials.

Issues with Virtual Criminal Jury Trials

Many of a courthouse’s day-to-day operations are not conducive to a post-pandemic world -- at least not yet. Now that the majority of Connecticut’s courthouses are open for staff and visitors, one of the only things that officials are scrambling to figure out is what to do about criminal jury trials. The possibility of virtual criminal jury trials taking place in Connecticut is becoming increasingly larger with each passing day of the pandemic. It is clear that we have the technology and the capability of conducting virtual jury trials, but virtual jury trials come with issues and downfalls of their own, such as:

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Hartford CT criminal defense lawyer bail reformFor the past couple of years, increased focus has been placed on the criminal justice system and making it more fair for everyone. One of the facets of the system that has received increased scrutiny lately is the bail and bond system. Proponents of change say the current bail system is unfairly biased in favor of wealthier individuals, since they have the ability to post bail or bond without issue. Because of this, a committee of Connecticut Superior Court judges has been considering whether or not to implement new rules and criteria for posting bond, which would make it easier for low-income individuals to remain outside of jail during their criminal trials. The committee recently voted unanimously to implement new rules for posting bond.

Low-Income Defendants are Permitted to Post Only a Percentage of Bond

A new rule was recently approved by the committee of Superior Court judges that would allow defendants who are considered to be low income to post 10 percent of their bond in cash, as long as the bond amount is $20,000 or less. This amount would then be returned to the defendant at the conclusion of the case. The committee stated that this new rule would allow low-income defendants to keep their money, rather than using a bail bondsman, who typically charges a 10 percent fee. The 10 percent cash bond would be given to the court or the police department in exchange for letting the defendant out of jail during the course of the case. The cash bond is a promise that the defendant will show up at future court proceedings; if the defendant skips out on future proceedings, the bond is forfeited, and the defendant will be responsible for paying the remaining 90 percent.

Opposition to the New Rule

In 2017, a law was passed that allowed defendants to post 10 percent of a bond that was less than $20,000 -- as long as a judge allowed it. Because of the requirement for judge approval, the 10 percent cash option was used in very few cases. Under the new rule, the 10 percent cash option will be more widely available. Opponents to the new rule say the state’s bond industry will lose around half of their business because of the changes. Bondsmen not only put up the amount needed, but they also ensure the person returns to court and will go looking for the defendant if they do try to skip out on court hearings.

A Connecticut Criminal Defense Attorney Can Answer Your Questions

If you have been charged with a crime, you know how much of a financial strain it can put on you and your family. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we can provide you with quality legal representation and help you understand your best options for defense against criminal charges. Let our skilled Hartford, CT criminal defense lawyer work with you to achieve a positive outcome. Call our office today at 860-290-8690 to schedule a free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.middletownpress.com/middletown/article/Bail-reform-would-help-poor-CT-defendants-hurt-13850682.php

https://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/20190618_superior_court_judges_change_bond_criteria/

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Hartford weapons charges lawyerIn 2012, Connecticut saw one of the worst school shootings in history. Twenty first-grade children and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Since then, there has been a massive overhaul in gun laws in the state of Connecticut, making them more strict than ever. Disobeying gun laws can mean years in prison and hefty fines, which is why it is crucial for anyone facing weapons charges to work with a skilled criminal defense lawyer.

Types of Weapons and Charges

Connecticut law recognizes four types of firearms. The categories of firearms are as follows:

  • Handguns: Both pistols and revolvers fall under the category of handguns. State law defines a pistol or revolver as a firearm having a barrel less than 12 inches in length. You must have a gun permit to be in legal possession of a handgun, and you must have it on your person at all times when you are carrying a handgun. Not carrying your permit when you are carrying your handgun is an infraction that can result in a fine of $35. If you carry a handgun without acquiring a permit, you will face up to five years in prison (one year is mandatory) and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Long guns: Both rifles and shotguns are referred to as long guns. Technically, you do not have to have a permit to obtain or possess a long gun. You are barred from possessing a long gun if you are a convicted felon, if you were convicted of a serious juvenile offense, if you have a restraining order or protective order against you, if you were adjudicated as a mental defective, or if you were committed to a mental institution. Illegal possession of a long gun has a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
  • Assault weapons: An assault weapon is defined as a selective-fire firearm that is capable of fully automatic, semi-automatic, or burst fire. This includes any parts or combination of parts that convert a firearm into an assault weapon. In Connecticut, it is illegal to sell, trade, or possess an assault weapon. Possession of an assault weapon carries a minimum one year jail sentence.
  • Machine guns: A machine gun is defined as a weapon that can automatically shoot more than one projectile by a single function of the trigger, without reloading. A machine gun is presumed to be used for an offensive or aggressive purpose if the weapon is somewhere that is not owned or rented as a primary residence or business operation by the person who possessed the gun, if it is possessed by an illegal alien, if it is possessed by a person who was convicted of a violent crime, if it is unregistered, or when empty or loaded projectiles are found in the immediate vicinity of the gun. Violating machine gun possession laws will result in a maximum fine of $1,000 and/or 5 to 10 years in prison.

Contact a Hartford, CT Weapons Charges Defense Attorney Today

In recent years, guns have been a hot topic. Now more than ever, state law enforcement officials have cracked down on the illegal and criminal use, possession, and transfer of firearms. If you have been arrested on weapons charges, you could be facing serious and extensive fines and jail time. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we can help you fight any weapons charges you may be facing. Our skilled Connecticut criminal defense lawyer can help you determine the best course of action for your case. Call our office today at 860-290-8690 to schedule a free consultation.

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mentally ill, Hartford criminal defense lawyerThe town of Preston, Connecticut, is home to a site popular among enthusiasts of the strange and paranormal. The crumbling remains of an asylum—most recently known as the Norwich State Hospital, but once called The Norwich Hospital for the Insane—have been used as a backdrop for haunted house reality television shows and as a project for paranormal investigators. Apart from being scary and disturbing, the abandoned asylum—which closed in 1996—begs an altogether different question. If asylums were once common throughout the country as a home or care facility for the mentally ill, what are we doing with such individuals now that most such facilities are closing? The answer, according to many, seems to be that we are simply holding them in different institutions now—institutions known as correctional facilities or prisons.

Staggering Estimates

According to data collected by the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC), a nonprofit organization which helps the mentally ill get the treatment they need, the American prison system currently houses more inmates with severe mental illness than are in state psychiatric hospitals—and the numbers are not even close. The TAC reported that in 2012, more than 350,000 inmates with severe mental illness were incarcerated, but only about 35,000 severely mentally patients were under the care of state hospitals.

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East Hartford, CT 06108
Phone: 860-290-8690
Fax: 860-290-8697
We are available by appointment during evening and weekend hours, if necessary.

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