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Connecticut criminal defense attorney for informant testimonyThe United States is a unique country in many ways. When it comes to the U.S. legal system, defendants are given quite a few inherent freedoms that many other countries do not provide. The way the legal system is set up here in our country, law enforcement officials can give individuals clemency for certain crimes in exchange for information. For example, police can choose to let a person walk free if they can offer up information about a crime committed by someone else. Prosecutors have the ability to recommend a lesser sentence or even drop criminal charges altogether if a defendant cooperates. One of the best examples of this is the practice of allowing prison inmates to testify against other inmates in exchange for various benefits.

The Issue With Jailhouse Informants

Recently, the use of jailhouse informants has become a hot topic. This has come in part because of the availability of new DNA testing technology that has helped quite a few people be declared innocent of the crimes they were accused of committing. Many of the people who have been exonerated were convicted because of testimony from jailhouse informants, whose intentions are not always the best. In many cases, informants are offered certain benefits for providing testimony, such as a reduction in their own sentences.

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East Hartford criminal defense lawyer for state and federal chargesThe United States Constitution gives citizens dozens of rights that are indicative of the spirit and history of the country, such as the right to free speech, the right to peacefully protest, and the right to bear arms. These rights are contained in the first ten Amendments, called the Bill of Rights, and they are constantly being analyzed in different contexts by scholars, lawmakers, and the members of the U.S. Supreme Court. One of these rights is the protection against double jeopardy, or being tried for the same crime more than once. This has been an issue that has wedged its way into the Supreme Court more than once and that has held precedent for many years.

Understanding Dual Sovereignty and Double Jeopardy

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution contains a variety of protections and rights given to citizens concerning criminal trials. One of these protections is from what is known as “double jeopardy” or being tried for the same crime twice. Originally, the Fifth Amendment was only meant to apply to the federal government, but over the years, the Supreme Court has ruled that it also applies to state governments.

The issue that the Supreme Court has faced again and again is whether or not a person can be tried for the same instance of a crime in both state and federal courts. For many years, the Supreme Court has upheld that a person can, in fact, be tried in both state and federal courts for the same instance of a crime because the state government and federal government are technically two different jurisdictions or “sovereigns.” This is known as the dual sovereignty doctrine.

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Connecticut criminal defense attorney for marijuana crimesIn recent years, the recreational and medical use of marijuana has become legal in several states across the country. Currently, 33 states, including Connecticut, permit the medicinal use of marijuana, and 11 states and the District of Columbia allow the recreational use of marijuana for adults. Even just 10 years ago, police could use the “smell of marijuana” as a legitimate reason to search a citizen’s vehicle or person for evidence which could be used to pursue charges for drug possession or DUI. However, times have changed, and some courts have found that this is not an adequate reason to conduct a search.

Is Marijuana Odor Considered Evidence?

Now that more than half of the states have legalized marijuana in some way, lawmakers and law enforcement officials have run into an issue of constitutionality when it comes to using the smell of marijuana as probable cause to search a vehicle or a person. In the minority of states that have not legalized marijuana, a police officer who believes they smell pot has probable cause to search a vehicle in most cases. In other states, however, the line has become blurred, because the smell of pot does not necessarily point to a crime.

“Pot Smell” and the Fourth Amendment

The “automobile exception” has long been recognized by the Supreme Court as an exception to the Fourth Amendment, which states that citizens have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures without a warrant. In many cases, a vehicle may be searched without the need to obtain a warrant if an officer has probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. Police have long used the smell of marijuana as an excuse to conduct vehicle searches, though it is now being reconsidered whether or not the supposed presence of this type of odor is enough to allow a warrantless search. Courts in many states, such as Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maryland, have ruled that marijuana odor no longer gives police the right to search a vehicle.

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Hartford criminal defense lawyer for pardons and deportationIn the United States, immigration has always been a topic of interest, especially in recent years. For many years, immigration requirements have stated that an immigrant who commits certain crimes can lose their citizenship or residency status, and they may be deported by immigration enforcement officials. Immigration laws are complex, and there are many provisions relating to what happens when a non-citizen commits a crime, which is why help from a skilled criminal defense attorney is important in these types of cases.

English Immigrant Receives Pardon for Crimes

In a recent case, an English immigrant who was previously convicted of crimes is still being held in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Boston. ICE is still attempting to deport her, even though she received a full pardon for her crimes. The woman, who is currently a lawful permanent resident of the United States, was four years old when she came to the U.S. with her mother. The crimes that ICE is attempting to deport her for include misdemeanor retail theft charges and a felony larceny charge.

Hartford Woman Still Faces Deportation

Connecticut’s Attorney General has been fighting to stop the deportation that ICE is insisting on. ICE has been trying to deport the woman since 2012. In March of 2019, ICE detained the woman, and one day later, the state of Connecticut issued a full and unconditional pardon for her crimes. ICE is arguing that Connecticut’s pardon does not absolve the woman of her crimes, because the pardon was not granted by the state’s governor, but rather by the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles.

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Connecticut criminal defense attorney for digital evidenceThe Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that all citizens have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government without a warrant. This provides protection against unfair tactics by prosecutors when a person is facing criminal charges. However, in the 21st century, the increased use of digital media has resulted in a slew of complexities in criminal cases. The Fourth Amendment was written to protect the privacy of American citizens, but what happens when your private digital files are no longer private to only you? In some cases, the “private search doctrine” may apply.

What Is the Private Search Doctrine?

Using the private search doctrine, once a private party (who is not involved with the government) has already done an initial search, the government can repeat that search without infringing upon the property owner’s individual Fourth Amendment rights. Basically, the private search doctrine allows the government to perform a search that is not technically a search in the Constitutional sense.

A Recent North Carolina Case Sparks Controversy

In 2014, a North Carolina woman was looking for a photograph on her boyfriend’s USB thumb drive. While she was clicking through folders and subfolders on the drive, she came across a partially-nude photo of her nine-year-old granddaughter. Upset, she stopped her search and informed her daughter of the photo. The pair took the thumb drive to the police station, where a detective began to look through the folders to find the photo the woman was referring to. While the detective was looking, he saw other photos that he thought might be child pornography. Once he found the photo of the woman’s granddaughter, he stopped his search and obtained a warrant to search the thumb drive for photos of child pornography.

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