Recent Blog Posts

Can Police Use Google Search History to Identify Suspects?

 Posted on May 16,2023 in Criminal Defense

Hartford Criminal LawyerSearch engines and other online tools have become essential in many people's lives. Being able to quickly and easily look up information or get directions allows people to complete multiple types of daily tasks while at home, at work, or anywhere else. However, this easy access to information comes with a cost. The searches people perform and the other ways they use websites and apps leave behind a digital trail that could be used to track their movements and activities. In some cases, this information may be accessed by law enforcement and used as evidence in a criminal case. Privacy and criminal justice advocates are challenging these practices, and a case that is currently being heard by the Colorado Supreme Court may play a significant role in how Google search information may be accessed and used by law enforcement.

Colorado Supreme Court Addresses Reverse Keyword Search Warrants

In August of 2020, five people were killed in a house fire in the Denver area that was allegedly started by three teenagers. As police officers investigated the incident, they were unable to identify the suspects until they issued a search warrant to Google. This warrant required Google to turn over information about anyone who searched for the street address of the home in question within 15 days before the fire. The search turned up several accounts and eventually led to the identification of the suspects, who were charged with first-degree murder, arson, and other offenses.

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The Fentanyl Epidemic May Lead to Changes in U.S. Drug Policies

 Posted on May 05,2023 in Criminal Defense

Harford Criminal LawyerThe United States is facing an unprecedented crisis due to the increased availability of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. Fentanyl has been linked to tens of thousands of overdose deaths across the country in recent years, making it one of the leading causes of drug-related fatalities. The rise in fentanyl overdoses has raised alarm bells among public health officials, who are calling for changes to U.S. drug policies that focus on harm reduction rather than pursuing drug charges for those who are accused of possessing or using this deadly substance.

What Is Fentanyl, and Why Is it So Dangerous?

Fentanyl is a synthetic drug that is classified as an opioid. While other types of opioids, including heroin and morphine, are made from poppy plants, fentanyl is synthesized using chemicals. While fentanyl was originally developed in the 1960s as a pain medication, it has seen increased use in recent years as an illegal drug. In many cases, those who have become addicted to prescription painkillers have turned to fentanyl.

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How Does Facial Recognition Technology Affect Criminal Cases?

 Posted on April 28,2023 in Criminal Defense

Connecticut Criminal Defense LawyerIn our modern world, people are constantly monitored throughout their daily lives, including by cameras in public locations, as well as their own smartphones and other electronic devices. Many people do not realize the extent of the information about them that is being collected, analyzed, and resold, including how photos or other data may be accessed by law enforcement and used to investigate and prosecute crimes. Facial recognition technology has come under fire in recent years, and privacy and criminal justice advocates have raised concerns about how police officers and other law enforcement officials may use these systems to identify suspects, make arrests, and prosecute people for criminal offenses.

Concerns About Facial Recognition and AI

The facial recognition system that is most commonly used by law enforcement is provided by Clearview AI. This company has built a database of billions of photos that were gathered from the internet and other sources, including photos people have posted to social media. Its systems use artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to compare images of criminal suspects with photos in the database. When a person is identified in this manner, police officers may investigate them further, arrest them, and pursue criminal charges.

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Policy Changes May Affect Commutations for Prisoners in Connecticut

 Posted on April 20,2023 in Criminal Defense

Hartford Criminal LawyerIn the United States, the criminal justice system often imposes harsh penalties on those who are convicted of crimes. Violent crimes and other serious offenses may result in prison sentences that last for multiple decades. Criminal justice reform advocates have argued that these types of sentences are overly harsh, especially for offenders who committed crimes at a young age. Prior to the age of 25, people's brains are still developing, and they may not fully understand the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, mistakes made during a person's youth can result in penalties that affect them for the rest of their lifetime.

As advocates look to make changes to how criminal offenses are prosecuted and how people are sentenced, they are also seeking to help people who have served long sentences and taken steps toward rehabilitation. Some public officials have taken action to provide relief for these prisoners and allow them to be released. In Connecticut, commutations have become available for more prisoners. However, these policies have been questioned by the state's lawmakers, and adjustments may be made to how these types of cases will be handled in the future.

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Will Congress Take Action to Limit Civil Asset Forfeiture?

 Posted on April 17,2023 in Criminal Defense

Hartford Criminal LawyerCivil asset forfeiture is a controversial practice in which police officers or other law enforcement officials seize money or other property from individuals suspected of criminal activity. In many cases, these forfeitures are performed without a court order or a criminal conviction. This form of forfeiture has been widely criticized for its lack of oversight and accountability. In recent years, there have been calls for reform to the ways civil asset forfeitures are conducted by law enforcement officials across the country. Now, Congress may be taking action to limit these practices and ensure greater transparency and fairness in how they are used.

Potential Reforms to Civil Forfeiture Laws

People who are convicted of crimes will often be required to turn over any money or property they earned through illegal activity. These criminal forfeitures require prosecutors to meet a certain burden of proof. Civil asset forfeitures, on the other hand, may be performed even if a person is never arrested or charged with a crime. Law enforcement officials may seize any money or property that they believe to be connected with criminal activity. To recover their property, the owner will have the burden of proof to show that they are innocent.

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Flawed Forensic Science: Bite Mark Analysis Can Lead to Wrongful Convictions

 Posted on April 05,2023 in Criminal Defense

Hartford Criminal Law AttorneyThere are a variety of techniques that criminal investigators and prosecutors may use to identify suspects and attempt to prove their guilt. While these techniques are referred to as "forensic science," they are often very unscientific. Unfortunately, far too many criminal convictions are based on "junk science" that does not hold up to scrutiny and does not accurately prove that a person committed a crime. Bite mark analysis is one of the most thoroughly debunked forms of flawed forensic science, but some people who were wrongfully convicted based on this type of evidence are still struggling to protect their rights and receive fair treatment in the criminal justice system.

Problems With Bite Mark Evidence

The idea behind bite mark evidence may seem sound: if people have unique dental patterns, then it should be possible to identify a perpetrator based on the impressions left behind by their teeth on a victim's body. However, analysis of bite marks is unreliable due to multiple issues:

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Does Drug Use Invalidate a Person’s Second Amendment Rights?

 Posted on March 31,2023 in Criminal Defense

Hartford Weapon Crime LawyerThe Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to keep and bear arms. While there have been debates over the extent of this right, it generally allows people to possess and use firearms, as long as they do so within the bounds of the law. However, even though organizations such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) have fought to expand gun rights and prevent the government from limiting people's ability to own and carry firearms, they have failed to address one specific area in which these rights may not apply. People who have used certain types of drugs or who have allegedly committed drug crimes may be prohibited from possessing firearms, and this is an ongoing area of concern for many criminal defendants.

Police Shooting Highlights Issues With Gun Rights of Drug Users

While the NRA has sought to prevent restrictions on the ownership of guns by most people, it has notably failed to address prohibitions on firearm possession by people who have used drugs. Federal laws state that people who are "unlawful drug users" or who are addicted to controlled substances are prohibited from possessing or receiving firearms or ammunition. While this law has been on the books since 1968, it was updated by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022, which extended the prison sentence a person could face for committing this offense from 10 to 15 years.

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Should Youthful Offenders Receive a “Second Look” at Prison Sentences?

 Posted on March 23,2023 in Criminal Defense

Hartford Criminal LawyerCriminal justice reform has become a focal point in contemporary American society, with a growing consensus that the system is in dire need of an overhaul. At the heart of this conversation lies a pressing issue impacting the lives of thousands of individuals who were convicted of crimes at a young age and subsequently saddled with lengthy prison sentences. With advancements in neuroscience research shedding light on the cognitive development of adolescents and the role this can play in criminal behavior, there is a mounting call to re-examine sentences for youthful offenders and explore alternative paths toward rehabilitation.

Advocates Call for Limits on Sentences and Second Looks for Youthful Offenders

In many cases, young people who are convicted of crimes face harsh sentences that limit the possibility of rehabilitation and prevent them from being able to be released and re-integrate into society. In recognition of the fact that young people's brains are still developing, which can limit their ability to understand the consequences of their actions, advocates are seeking to place limits on sentences for youthful offenders, such as by prohibiting life sentences without the possibility of parole for people under a certain age. They are also advocating for laws that allow sentences to be reviewed after a certain period of time to determine whether parole or other options may be available.

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Should Prison Sentences in the United States Be Limited to 20 Years?

 Posted on March 20,2023 in Criminal Defense

"ConnecticutMass incarceration is a major concern that has affected our criminal justice system. The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, and over two million people are currently serving prison sentences. More than 50 percent of the people in American prisons are serving sentences of 10 years or more, and one out of every seven people who are incarcerated have been sentenced to life in prison. As part of their ongoing calls for criminal justice reform, advocates have stated that prison reform measures should be put in place, including a 20-year cap on sentences, reduced sentences for all criminal offenses, and other reforms that would reduce the prison population and improve rehabilitation rates.

Reports Show the Benefits of Limiting Prison Sentences

Recently, multiple organizations that advocate for criminal justice reform have released reports detailing the benefits of reducing prison sentences and outlining changes that would benefit communities in the United States. A report by the Sentencing Project noted that mass incarceration has not improved safety or living conditions for people in the U.S., but has instead increased inequality and caused significant problems for many families. One out of every 14 children under the age of 14 have a parent who has been incarcerated, and this can affect parents' ability to provide for their children and ensure that they are raised in a safe and healthy environment. People with lower incomes and minorities are disproportionately affected by these issues, with Black children being twice as likely as white children to have a parent who is in prison.

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Supreme Court to Address Stalking and Online Harassment

 Posted on March 09,2023 in Criminal Defense

East Hartford Harassment Defense LawyerThere are numerous situations where people may face criminal charges due to stalking or harassment. Due to the ever-increasing use of digital technology and social media, many of these cases involve claims that a person posted messages online that caused others to fear for their safety. These cases sometimes involve issues that are difficult to resolve, since people may claim that they are exercising their right to free speech. The ways these matters are addressed can differ depending on state laws, and whether messages may be considered harassment is not always clear. However, the Supreme Court may soon offer some clarity on this issue, as it is scheduled to hear a case involving online harassment.

When Are Threatening Messages Considered to Be Harassment?

The case in question, Counterman v. Colorado, involved a man who was convicted under a Colorado law that prohibits sending repeated communication to a person in a manner that would cause them to experience emotional distress. The defendant in this case was accused of stalking a singer-songwriter over a period of several years. Even after being blocked repeatedly, he created new social media accounts and continued to communicate with the alleged victim, with many messages seeming to convey threats. The defendant was convicted of stalking and sentenced to 4.5 years in prison.

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