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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorneyIn recent weeks, tensions have been escalating in the United States between the country’s police force and its citizens, specifically among minority groups. There has always been a backlash against the tactics used by police, with many stating that the weapons and procedures used are too harsh and acts of brutality are too often aimed toward minorities and people of color. A recent instance where an Atlanta police officer fatally shot a black man, Rayshard Brooks, after the man grabbed a taser from the officer has reignited public concern over tasers and stun guns and their effectiveness as law enforcement tools.

In Connecticut, stun guns and tasers are referred to as electronic defense weapons and are actually classified as “dangerous weapons.” This also means that they are subject to certain rules and restrictions, as well as Connecticut residents who choose to own them. Similar to gun regulations, permits are required for anyone seeking to legally own a taser or stun gun. Anyone who does not comply with the state’s dangerous weapons laws faces criminal charges and consequences.

What Is an Electronic Defense Weapon?

A stun gun or electronic defense weapon is a device that was created to temporarily immobilize its targets. Stun guns have been used by law enforcement officers for decades, especially in situations in which suspects have been difficult or uncooperative. A stun gun has the ability to deliver 50,000 volts of electricity to a person, which courses through his or her body. When the weapon is used directly on a person, it typically only causes pain, similar to a shock. When the weapon is used and the probes are discharged, the voltage causes temporary paralysis, pain, and in some cases, death.

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East Hartford criminal defense attorney jury trialRacism is not an issue that is new to our country -- this has been a very problematic issue in the United States for the entirety of the country’s 244-year existence. Even before the country was established, the slave trade was alive and well. By 1865, however, slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and made owning a human being illegal. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s brought about the next biggest racial change in the country -- segregation was ended. Now, in recent years, we have seen a new movement emerging, one that was ignited by multiple unjustified killings of black men by police officers. This new movement has been dubbed the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and is a call for racial equality, especially within our criminal justice system.

Understanding Systemic Racism

When you use the term systemic racism, people often incorrectly interpret that as meaning that all of the people involved in the criminal justice system are racist. In actuality, systemic racism refers to the policies and procedures that produce results that seem to disproportionately punish people of color more often than people who are white. Many of the elements contained within modern-day law enforcement were introduced and kept on permanently during the Jim Crow era.

Over the years, hundreds of studies have been conducted on the outcomes of the current criminal justice system to determine if the system really is punishing people of color more frequently. Many, if not most, studies have produced data that is hard to argue with. In nearly all areas, such as arrests, traffic violations, prison populations, and even the death penalty, people of color are disproportionally affected.

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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorneyThe coronavirus pandemic has forced everyone to take a step back and make temporary changes to how things are run, but some Connecticut officials suggest looking into making more permanent changes to the system. One of the most simple changes that has been proposed is simply granting all criminal defendants the right to waive all nonessential court appearances, as long as they are represented by an attorney. The current Practice Book provides for modified procedures if a defendant waives his or her right to a court appearance, although it is not an option for all defendants at all times.

Reasons to Allow Court Appearances to Be Waived

Criminal court cases are notoriously long and complicated processes that can take months, if not years to complete. During the length of the case, the defendant is required to appear at each and every court date. However, that practice is rather repetitive because one of the purposes of a defendant’s arraignment is to determine if that person poses a flight risk. Other ways this requirement impedes the system include:

  • Forcing all defendants to be present can really slow down the efficiency. You cannot just walk into a courthouse. Most courthouses have some sort of security or metal detectors that you must go through before you can gain entrance. Hundreds of people, such as defendants, their family members, lawyers, and others are processed through to wait until their case is called. It is not uncommon during a criminal case for you to be notified that a court date has been rescheduled after you have been waiting for hours.

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email, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyAttorney-client privilege is an important part of the American criminal justice system. Under this privilege, a defendant is supposed to be able to communicate freely with his or her lawyer without the attorney being forced to share what was said with prosecutors or law enforcement. The concept works, essentially as an extension of the Fifth Amendment’s right to be free from self-incrimination and the guarantee of due process, the Sixth Amendment’s right to an attorney, and the right to privacy promised by the Fourth and Ninth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

In most situations, maintaining confidentiality under the attorney-client privilege is fairly straightforward. Prosecutors, law enforcement, and the government at large do not have the authority or the ability to record or request records of communications between criminal defendants and their lawyers. The situation changes dramatically, however, for those who are already in correctional facilities, including jails and prisons.

Emails Are Convenient but Monitored

A person who is incarcerated can communicate with his or her attorney in four basic ways. The prisoner can schedule an in-person visit or a phone call that is not monitored. Either of these two options could take several weeks to make happen, not to mention travel costs for the attorney. Traditional postal mail is a choice as well, but again, time may be a factor. Finally, the prisoner could send his or her attorney an email.

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injuries, Hartford personal injury lawyerWhen you are injured in a car crash, slip and fall accident, or any other type of accident caused by the actions or negligence of another party, you are generally entitled to collect compensation for your injuries. This means that determining the severity of your injuries is an important part of the process.

If you sustained injuries to a part of your body that has never been seriously hurt before, it is reasonable to assume that any damage was the result of the accident. If, however, you sustained injuries to a part of your body that had been hurt before, it can be difficult to know for sure what damage was caused by the accident and what damage had been done previously. Pre-existing injuries can present serious complications in your pursuit of full compensation, but it is possible to collect in spite of them.

Jury Awards $228,000 Despite Prior Injuries

Earlier this month, a Hartford Superior Court jury deliberated for just an hour before finding in favor of a 48-year-old man who had been injured in a 2016 accident in Bristol. The man was hurt when he was rear-ended by another vehicle, and he suffered injuries to his left shoulder, lower back, and neck, reports indicate. According to court records, liability for the crash was not at issue, as the driver of the second vehicle was cited for following too closely. Instead, the main concern was the victim’s injuries.

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