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Hartford criminal defense lawyer coronavirus COVID-19The United States has quickly become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the number of cases surpassing even China, the country where the virus originated. As of April 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that there were more than 600,000 cases in the U.S., with more than 24,000 related deaths. Because of the ability of the virus to spread so rapidly, states have been doing what they can to curb the spread. Recently, more individuals have become concerned with the prison population and how states are taking measures to protect inmates.

Problems With Prisons and COVID-19

The CDC has issued certain guidelines for people to follow to decrease their risk of contracting COVID-19, also known as coronavirus. These guidelines include social distancing, meaning keeping a distance of at least six feet between yourself and others, wearing cloth masks to reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading, and frequent and thorough hand washing with warm water and soap. In prison, many of these guidelines are impossible to adhere to. Because of this, the number of inmates and correctional workers who have tested positive for the virus is increasing. In Connecticut, there are currently 166 inmates and 104 staff members who have tested positive for the virus.

Connecticut Still Has No Official Plans for Inmate Release

In light of this, the state of Connecticut has still not released an official plan for inmate release. However, some inmates have been released from custody, according to information from Rollin Cook, the Department of Corrections commissioner. Cook stated that the inmate population in Connecticut has dipped below 12,000, the first time it has done so in 25 years. He also stated that the releases have not been mass releases, but releases have been limited to inmates who are elderly or have medical conditions that cause them to be considered high risk.

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Hartford sexual assault charges defense attorneyMost people understand that forcing someone to have sex with them when they clearly do not want to is wrong. This crime is called sexual assault or rape, and it is addressed in each state’s laws, though the definitions, situations, and punishments for sexual assault differ from state to state. A fairly new issue in the laws concerning sexual misconduct is the idea of “rape by fraud.” This idea may sound far-fetched, but it has happened before -- and more than once.

A Case of Sexual Deceit

In 2017, a Purdue college student fell asleep in her boyfriend’s dorm and was woken up by a person she thought was him who prompted sex from her. She soon realized that the person was not her boyfriend, but was, in fact, one of her boyfriend’s friends who had sex with her, knowing that she thought he was her boyfriend. The woman went to the police and pressed charges of sexual assault. The imposter was arrested and charged with two counts of rape, which carried a sentence of 3 to 16 years in prison. However, the state of Indiana does not specifically have laws pertaining to “rape by fraud,” and the alleged perpetrator ended up being acquitted of the charges and having his criminal record expunged.

The Issue With Consent

One of the biggest issues that can complicate cases involving sexual deceit is the fact that consent is rarely defined in sexual assault laws. Most states do not have an explicit definition of what constitutes consent, including Connecticut. The states that do have definitions for consent will typically describe it as positive cooperation in act or attitude where a person exercises their free will and has knowledge of the act that is happening. Without an explicit definition, consent is often a gray area. A person may be interpreted as having given consent in a wide variety of circumstances, ranging from a lack of physical struggle to explicit positive affirmation.

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Connecticut criminal defense attorney immigration deportationThroughout much of the country’s history, the United States government has used the criminal justice system to prevent certain immigrants from entering the country and to deport immigrants already in the U.S. The term “moral turpitude” first appeared in the Immigration Act of 1891, and this and other laws have held immigrants to a high moral standard. The Immigration Act of 1996 added even more vague language surrounding crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT), and it gave law enforcement agencies and state officials the ability to broadly define these types of crimes in immigration cases.

What Is a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude?

According to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), a crime involving moral turpitude is “an act which is...morally reprehensible and intrinsically wrong.” The BIA has also stated that a CIMT is any crime that involves conduct that is “inherently base, vile or depraved, and contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between people or to society in general.” Many officials have pointed out that the definitions of CIMTs are very broad and that there are no specific crimes that are always classified as CIMTs.

Crimes involving moral turpitude are determined on a case-by-case basis, though crimes involving the following tend to be classified as CIMTs:

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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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Hartford federal drug charges defense attorneyFor years now, many lawmakers have agreed that the United States criminal justice system has needed major reforms. Many bills intended to address this issue have been introduced in the past few years, but most have fallen on deaf ears in Congress and have not made their way to the President’s desk. This all changed in December 2018 when President Trump signed the FIRST STEP Act into law. The FIRST STEP Act is one of the first major changes to sentencing for federal drug crimes and is intended to help reduce the prison population. It will also help those who are newly convicted with drug crimes.

Reforms Made By the FIRST STEP Act

The FIRST STEP Act pushes the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to assess the risks and needs for every offender when they are sentenced. Then, the BOP will attempt to reduce the rate of reoffending through individualized and evidence-based plans, which will be offered to all inmates. Programs that could be a part of these plans may include substance abuse treatment, mental health care, anger-management courses, job training, educational support, and even faith-based initiatives.

Another reform made by the Act is intended to help inmates transition back into their communities. The Act allows inmates to serve a portion of the end of their imprisonment in a halfway house or in-home confinement. This allows inmates to successfully transition back into normal life and lowers their chances of reoffending. The BOP will perform the risks and needs assessment more frequently during this time to make sure the services the inmate needs are there.

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