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penalty, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyWhen you think about a person who has been charged with a crime, you are likely to picture a defendant sitting in a courtroom while a prosecutor presents his or her case on behalf of the state or federal government. The defendant’s attorney, in this scenario, will have the opportunity to refute the government’s claims and raise reasonable doubts about his or her client’s guilt. Of course, this mental image is one of a criminal trial, but trends in criminal law over the last 50 years have forced criminal trials to the brink of extinction. In fact, a new report by a national lawyers’ group suggests that the stakes of going to trial have become so outrageously high that the right to a jury trial guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Sixth Amendment has been largely compromised.

A Troubling Report

Earlier this month, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) released the findings of a report titled The Trial Penalty: The Sixth Amendment Right to Trial on the Verge of Extinction and How to Save It. The report examined the dramatic differences in sentences offered to criminal defendants during plea bargain negotiations and those imposed after a criminal trial. This difference is what the report refers to as the “trial penalty.”


sex offender, Hartford criminal defense attorneyIn 2015, the Connecticut General Assembly directed the state’s Sentencing Commission to conduct an in-depth examination of Connecticut’s policies regarding the “assessment, management, treatment, and sentencing of sex offenders.” The two-year study concluded near the end of 2017. As a result of its findings, the Connecticut Sentencing Commission officially recommended a shift from offense-based registration as a sex offender to a system based on the risk an offender poses to the community at large.

The recommendation was formalized as House Bill 5578 in the most recent session of the General Assembly, but the measure never made it past the Judiciary Committee. Lawmakers, however, say that the proposal may have merits, but the discussion is better suited for the longer legislative session next year.

Among the study’s most important findings was the idea that the current laws and guidelines regarding sex offender registration are largely based on decades-old assumptions that have been proven questionable or demonstrably false. According to the Sentencing Commission, three primary myths persist.


plead, Connecticut personal injury attorneyWhen you think about a person being convicted on criminal charges, do you picture a courtroom where a judge reads the verdict reached by the jury? While such scenarios do occur, they are much less common than the average person realizes. In fact, more than 90 percent of all criminal convictions—as high as 97 percent in federal court—are reached by plea bargain.

A plea bargain, in most cases, is a deal reached between prosecutors and the accused where the accused pleads guilty to a charge—often one that is lesser than the charges originally filed—in exchange for leniency during sentencing. A criminal suspect is under no legal obligation to accept a plea bargain. This means, however, that at least nine out of ten convictions are the direct result of decisions made by those accused of committing crimes rather than by a judge or jury.

Plea Bargains Sometimes Make Sense


victim, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyWhen a person is accused of committing a crime, he or she is afforded a number of rights. Most of them have their basis in the U.S. Constitution and the guarantee of due process of law. The Constitution, however, does not address each and every right that a person may or may not have and is rather silent regarding the rights of those who have been victimized by the accused’s alleged crimes. Thus, the rights of crime victims have long been a topic for debate in legal circles and among the general public. Last month, the Connecticut Supreme Court handed down a ruling one such disputed right—a ruling that has left some people concerned about the transparency of criminal legal proceedings.

An Ongoing Criminal Matter

The issue was brought before the state’s highest court as the result of a ruling by a lower court in a sexual assault case. The defendant—a 46-year-old former teacher’s aide—is charged with sex crimes related to an ongoing sexual relationship she allegedly had with a 15-year-old boy, beginning when the boy was under her care at a preschool. She is also charged with molesting the boy’s 16-year-old friend.


jury, Hartford criminal defense attorneyWhen a person is facing criminal charges and his or her case goes to a jury trial, there is a long list of rules that Connecticut courts must follow to ensure the trial is handled properly. Such rules address not only a suspect’s rights but also the process of the trial itself, including collecting a pool of potential jurors and selecting the appropriate number of jurors to decide the case. Jury selection is an important part of the criminal justice process, but at least one Connecticut judge believes that the current rules that govern jury selection should be amended to be more inclusive.

Peremptory Challenges

During jury selection, attorneys for both sides—prosecutors and defendants in a criminal trial—have a tool at their disposal known as a peremptory challenge. A peremptory challenge gives the attorney the ability to strike a prospective juror without a detailed explanation. Compared to a challenge for cause, peremptory challenges may be limited by jurisdictional rules. While a peremptory challenge does not require a justification, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1986 that such challenges could not be used to strike a prospective juror solely on the basis of race.

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