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DNA, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyUnder the current law in Connecticut, anyone who is convicted of a felony is required to provide a sample of his or her DNA to be cataloged in the state’s DNA database. In 2016, the Connecticut Supreme Court even ruled that prison and law enforcement officials were permitted to use reasonable force to obtain the DNA sample when a convict refuses to cooperate.

While there has been debate over whether the collection of such samples constitutes a violation of privacy, the law and the Supreme Court ruling only apply to individuals who have already been convicted of a serious crime. Meanwhile, reports indicate that law enforcement officials in Connecticut are asking young men and women—including juveniles—to give DNA samples without their parents’ consent or knowledge.

A Cause for Worry

Earlier this month, lawmakers in California passed legislation that makes it illegal for police officers to obtain DNA from a minor without either permission from the minor’s parent or guardian or a court order. The law was widely regarded as a response to allegations of the police in San Diego targeting young African-Americans for DNA collection. Advocates are pushing for similar laws in other states as well.

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stingray, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyAnother court has issued a ruling that effectively tells police, “Just because you are able to track people does not mean that you are allowed to do so.” The decision was handed down by an appeals court in Washington D.C.—the District’s equivalent of a state appellate court—and addressed the use of cell-site simulator devices. The devices are more commonly known by the brand name StingRay and allow law enforcement to locate a cell phone by sending and receiving signals that imitate the performance of a cell tower. The ruling is the latest in a string of similar court decisions that have held the use of StingRays without a warrant to be a violation of a suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights in most cases.

Great Power

Cell-site simulators give the police the ability to track a cell phone and, sometimes, intercept phone calls and text messages. The problem, however, is that the simulators collect the same information from any other phone in the vicinity. As a result, the police can, in effect, track any cell phone without a person’s knowledge or consent. Civil liberty advocates say that such capabilities must be limited by requiring a warrant, as tracking a person’s cell phone without approval from the court constitutes an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment.

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misconduct, Hartford criminal defense attorneySeemingly every other week or so, there is a new report of alleged misconduct of some type involving police officers. Over the last several years, we have heard countless stories of police shootings, overaggressive behavior by officers against criminal suspects, and allegations of blatant and systemic racism. Due in large part to these types of examples, many people are hesitant to trust law enforcement officers and such apprehension is understandable. Now, a federal lawsuit recently filed in Connecticut suggests that there is even a measure of distrust of certain officers and officials among other police officers.

Federal Action

Earlier this month a former member of the Rocky Hill police department filed suit in federal court in Bridgeport seeking damages for harassment and discrimination. The suit names four defendants, including the Rocky Hill police chief and another officer, as well as the current and former Town Managers of Rocky Hill.

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