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social media, Hartford criminal defense attorneyIt has been said that you can find anything online if you look hard enough. While some people use the internet to find entertaining videos, news stories, sports highlights, and hobby advice, others are attracted to the way that it allows them to share their lives with others. Social media outlets have become an extremely popular form of communication, with Facebook boasting more than 1.8 billion—yes, billion with a “b”—active monthly users. Facebook Live, a live video streaming feature, launched about a year ago, giving users the ability to instantly share videos of their exploits and experiences with their friends. But, what happens when those exploits are actually homicides or sexual assaults being broadcast in real time? Does a person who sees a crime on social media have a legal obligation to report it to appropriate authorities?

Recent Examples

The issue has been particularly illuminated by two high-profile examples in recent weeks—both involving actions broadcasted on Facebook Live. The first involved an alleged gang rape of a Chicago teenager by several juveniles and at least one adult, according to reports. Thus far, Chicago police have arrested one of the minors and another turned himself in, but at least 40 people watched the streaming video.

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Mandatory Arrest Law Complicates Domestic Violence Calls, Connecticut Criminal Defense AttorneyDespite aggressive, nationwide awareness campaigns over the last several decades, domestic violence and intimate partner abuse continue to plague families throughout Connecticut and across the country. Tragically, millions of people suffer abuse at the hands of a spouse, partner, or another family member each year, and an alarmingly large number of victims are hesitant or simply refuse to seek help. Sometimes, however, a domestic violence victim will have the courage to call the police, hoping that law enforcement will help resolve the problem at hand. The police arrive and arrest the alleged abuser—then proceed to arrest the victim as well. This is known as a “dual arrest,” and the rate of such arrests in Connecticut is nearly 10 times higher than the national average.

The Problems of Mandatory Arrest

Connecticut is one of 22 states with laws that require police to make an arrest when they respond to a domestic violence call. In theory, mandatory arrest laws are intended to protect victims of abuse by eliminating the need for officers to make a judgment call on the scene. But in practice, such laws have unintended consequences. Studies suggest that many victims fear additional retaliation from their abusers following a call to a police and mandatory arrest, which means mandatory arrest laws may actually be reducing calls for help.

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bail, Hartford criminal defense attorneyOver the last several months, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy has been making rounds throughout the state as he tries to garner support for proposals that would continue his intended reform of the criminal justice system. The governor has labeled his efforts, which began several years ago, as “Second Chance Society” initiatives, as they focus on rehabilitating non-violent offenders and keeping them out of the state’s already crowded prisons. In 2015, Malloy was successful in getting his first series of proposals passed by the state legislature, reducing penalties and emphasizing treatment for non-violent drug offenders. This year, the governor is pushing for—among other objectives—a reform of the state’s bail programs, a change that some say is not all that necessary.

A Look at the Numbers

The Connecticut Sentencing Commission—a non-partisan committee whose membership includes judges, defense lawyers, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials—conducted a study of the current state of the bail system in Connecticut. The Commission found that of the 14,800 inmates in the state’s jails and prisons, approximately one-fourth have yet to go to trial or are awaiting sentencing. About 650 defendants are still in jail for cases in which bail was set at less than $20,000. According to the Commission’s findings, approximately 14 percent of all defendants arrested for a crime are held on some sort of financial bail.

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young adult, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyOver the last several years, Governor Dannel P. Malloy has spearheaded efforts to reform the Connecticut criminal justice system and to reduce the state’s prison population. In 2015, Governor Malloy successfully lobbied for the reclassification of most drug possession charges as misdemeanors as opposed to felonies, thereby reducing prison sentences for non-violent offenders. Last year, he continued promoting his “Second Chance Society” measures to reform the state’s bail system and to expand the juvenile court system’s jurisdiction to include young adults up to age 21. While the initiatives failed to gain sufficient traction during 2016, both are back on the table this year.

Raising the Age

When a juvenile breaks the law, he or she, in most cases, is subject to the jurisdiction of the state’s juvenile court system. Juvenile courts are generally more focused on education and rehabilitation than punishment. The approach is intended to prevent young offenders from becoming immersed in a criminal lifestyle, pushing them instead to become productive members of society.

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homicide, Hartford criminal defense attorneyAs it currently stands, drug laws throughout the United States are very strict—loosening regulations on marijuana notwithstanding. In most states, including Connecticut, a single drug conviction can lead to serious criminal consequences and penalties that could follow an individual around for the rest of his or her life.

Unfortunately, however, many throughout the country believe that the so-called “War on Drugs” has ultimately failed. Instead of getting illegal substances off our streets and away from our children, drug problems persist and our prisons are as crowded as ever. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has been a leader in a new approach toward drug crimes in the state, shifting the focus, in most cases, from punishment to education and reform. Such efforts have been primarily intended for non-violent offenders and those charged with relatively minor offenses. But now, two other Connecticut lawmakers have proposed legislation that would create a new drug crime in the state: homicide by sale of an opioid.

Overdose Deaths Rising

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