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Hartford criminal law attorney police interrogationIf you are arrested because you are suspected of committing a crime, there are certain procedures that must be followed. Before police can begin to interrogate you or ask you questions, they are required to read you your rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. These rights, known as Miranda Rights, include your right to remain silent or not incriminate yourself, your right to an attorney (or if you cannot afford an attorney, your right to have an attorney appointed for you at no cost), and your right to have your attorney present before you answer any questions.

Protecting the Constitutional rights of citizens has always been of great importance to both the federal government and individual state governments. Because of this, supreme courts often hear cases that assert that people were wrongly convicted of a crime because their Constitutional rights were violated. This is exactly the case in a recent appeals case heard by the Connecticut Supreme Court.

The Right to an Attorney During Interrogation

Earlier this month, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled on State v. Purcell, a case concerning a man arrested on sexual assault charges who was denied counsel after he made repeated, though indirect, statements about having an attorney present. The man was convicted of three counts of risk of injury to a child and received a sentence of 16 years in prison, suspended after 9 years, plus 10 years of probation. The man appealed the conviction, but the appellate court upheld the decision.

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courtroom, Hartford defense lawyerIt is one of the basic tenets of American criminal law: a person charged with a crime has the right to face his or her accuser. In a criminal case, the accuser is usually the state or the federal government but the so-called “confrontation clause” of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees a criminal suspect the right to confront any witnesses against him or her as well. The provision was intended to prevent a defendant from being convicted on the basis of testimony or written evidence without the ability to challenge the witnesses’ statements in front of a jury.

When a witness appears to testify during a trial, prosecutors also have the opportunity to question him or her. Depending on the situation and the type of witness, it has long been a common practice for prosecutors to ask a witness if the person who committed the crime in question is present in the courtroom. The witness then points at the defendant and says something to the effect of “That’s him [or her].” It is intended to be a dramatic moment that hits home with the jurors.

Questions of Reliability

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cell phone tower, Hartford criminal defense attorneyIf you are arrested on the suspicion that you committed a crime, part of your defense may include showing that you were not near the location of the crime when it was taking place. But, what if records from a cell phone tower suggest that you were in the area of the crime? Are cell towers reliable enough to provide evidence that could change a criminal defendant’s life? This is the question that the Connecticut Supreme Court must answer as it reviews the case of a man currently serving 20 years prison for a robbery in Wethersfield in 2012.

Constantly Changing Technology

Before the advent of cellular technology, criminal prosecutors could definitively place a suspect near the scene of a crime in one of a few ways. The suspect’s own admission, of course, was—and still is—the most certain, but a prosecutor could also utilize physical evidence such as hair, blood, or clothing fibers, as well as the testimony of eyewitnesses. Today, however, a person is likely to carry a cell phone constantly sends and receives a variety of signals, allowing the person to make phone calls, receive emails, and share messages, while creating records of each transmission along the way.

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school officials, Hartford personal injury lawyerWhen a child is injured on school property, Connecticut law makes it rather difficult to hold the school administrators, faculty, or staff responsible for the child’s injuries. The law affords a great deal of protection to school officials and employees, shielding them on the basis of governmental immunity. A teacher or school official acting within the discretionary scope of his or her employment is typically granted generous considerations regarding liability. Otherwise, the floodgates could be opened for massive numbers of lawsuits each year.

But, what about a school official who does properly carry out his or her job-related assignments? Can he or she be held responsible if a student is injured as a result? A recent ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court indicates that the answer is “maybe.”

Smoking Before School

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DNA collection, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyWhen properly collected and analyzed, DNA evidence is among the most clear-cut and convincing forensics in any criminal proceeding. Countless cases in the last several decades have been greatly impacted by the biological technology, including those of a large number of previously-convicted defendants who were later exonerated by DNA analysis.

Unsurprisingly, the success of such efforts has led all 50 states and the federal government to mandate the collection of DNA samples from at least some categories of convicted offenders, so as to assist in future investigations. Here in Connecticut, however, the state’s authority to use force in collecting DNA was recently brought before the state Supreme Court, promulgated by the appeals of two convicted felons who refused to submit to DNA collection.

Reasonable Force

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