Recent Blog Posts

How Often Is “Junk Science” Used During Criminal Prosecutions?

 Posted on February 13, 2023 in Criminal Defense

Hartford Criminal LawyerBased on how it is portrayed in TV and movies, forensic science can seem infallible. Police officers on TV shows seem to use amazing technology and deductive skills to determine exactly how a crime occurred, identify suspects, and prosecute those who are guilty. However, these fictional depictions of criminal investigations are very different from how cases are handled in the real world. In reality, forensic science is often unreliable, and in many cases, police must rely on guesswork, or they may approach a case with biases and use forensic investigation methods to confirm their suspicions. Far too often, “junk science” is used during the criminal prosecution of suspects, and evidence may be accepted as incontrovertible proof of guilt without questioning its flaws.

Reasons Why Junk Forensic Science Is Unreliable

There are a variety of investigation methods used by police officers, and in some cases, supposed "experts" will encourage the use of certain techniques that are questionable and unreliable. In many cases, these methods will be based on the subjective interpretations of investigators and oversimplifications of complex factors. "Experts" often have limited evidence or scientific research to support their claims, yet they will portray their methods as conclusive, without acknowledging the possibility of errors.

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Can a Criminal Sentence Be Increased Even After an Acquittal?

 Posted on February 03, 2023 in Criminal Defense

Hartford Criminal Defense LawyerThe criminal justice system in the United States is meant to be fair, ensuring that those who are accused of crimes can defend themselves and that those who are convicted of crimes will be sentenced appropriately. However, there are many injustices in this system, and defendants often struggle to protect their rights and ensure that they are treated fairly. One issue that has recently received attention is the fact that people who are convicted of crimes may sometimes face longer sentences based on offenses that a jury determined they were not guilty of committing. This practice is known as “acquitted-conduct sentencing,” and it may soon be addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

What Is Acquitted-Conduct Sentencing?

In many cases, people who are involved in criminal cases will face multiple charges. When a person is convicted on some charges but acquitted on others, they should only be sentenced based on the charges they were actually convicted for. However, in many cases, judges consider other factors that may warrant an increased sentence, including offenses that a person was acquitted of. This means that even when a person is acquitted of a crime, they may face a sentence similar to what they would have received if they had been convicted of that offense.

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Is There a Minimum Age for Prosecution in Criminal Cases?

 Posted on January 30, 2023 in Criminal Defense

East Hartford Juvenile Defense AttorneyRecently, people throughout the United States were shocked by a school shooting that took place in Virginia. The incident occurred when a six-year-old child brought a gun to school and shot and wounded his teacher. This case has raised questions about whether the child could potentially face criminal charges, and this has in turn led to an examination of the laws that determine when children can face criminal prosecution.

Age of Criminal Responsibility

Most countries have laws that set a minimum age at which a person can be prosecuted on criminal charges. The average age of criminal responsibility is 14, and most countries also prohibit prosecutors from pursuing charges against children under the age of 7. However, the United States has no federal law that sets a minimum age for criminal prosecution. These issues are addressed at the state level, and currently, 24 states, including Virginia have no minimum age of criminal responsibility. Other states have set minimum ages for prosecution ranging from 7 to 13 years old.

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Indiana Courts Question Validity of Sex Offender Registration Laws

 Posted on January 25, 2023 in Criminal Defense

East Hartford Crimes Against Children LawyerPeople who are arrested or convicted of sexual offenses, such as sexual assault or crimes against children, often face significant difficulties. In addition to criminal penalties that may include long periods of incarceration and large fines, those who are convicted of sex crimes will usually be required to register as sex offenders. This can impose limitations on where they can live, and it may make it difficult or impossible to find employment. Unfortunately, many people encounter confusion about which laws apply to them, including their requirements when moving to a different state. These issues have been illustrated in an ongoing court case in Indiana involving six defendants who have argued that the state's sex offender registration law treats them unfairly.

Issues Related to the Indiana Sex Offender Registration Act

The state of Indiana enacted the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) in 1994, and in addition to requiring people convicted of sex crimes in the state to register as sex offenders, it also requires people convicted of these offenses in other states to register in Indiana if they will live or work in the state. However, the law placed additional requirements on people from other states; namely, those who were convicted of sex offenses or required to register as sex offenders in other states are required to register as sex offenders in Indiana, even if they committed offenses prior to when SORA went into effect.

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Is Home Confinement a Good Alternative to Incarceration in Prison?

 Posted on January 20, 2023 in Criminal Defense

East Hartford Criminal Law AttorneyThe system of mass incarceration in the United States has led to large numbers of people being imprisoned. At any given time, around 500,000 people are being held in prisons throughout the United States, and more than 10 million people are admitted to prisons each year. As the prison system strains to house and provide care for all of these prisoners, criminal justice advocates are calling for other solutions, including alternatives to incarceration. Since 2020, the use of home confinement has increased, and it may provide a more cost-effective and humane solution that will improve public safety.

Home Confinement Under the CARES Act

In 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which allowed for the use of home confinement for federal prisoners who were at risk of serious illness due to the spread of COVID-19 in prisons. Home confinement was used for prisoners who were most vulnerable, including those who are elderly or who have significant health issues. This program has been very successful, giving many prisoners the opportunity to reintegrate into the community and remain safe from harm.

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Federal Prisoners Struggle to Receive Relief Under the First Step Act

 Posted on January 04, 2023 in Criminal Defense

East Hartford Crime Law AttorneyThe First Step Act (FSA) is a federal law that was passed in 2018, and it was meant to help federal prisoners re-enter society successfully after being released. Unfortunately, there have been problems with the implementation of the FSA, and many prisoners have been unable to fully make use of the programs that should be available to them and earn credits that allow them to be released early. Those who are facing criminal charges and those who have been convicted of federal offenses will need to understand how this law affects them and how they can take steps to demonstrate that they are eligible for early release. 

Issues Affecting Minimum Security Prisoners Under the FSA

Of the 150,000 people incarcerated in federal prisons in the United States, around 24,000, or 15 percent, are classified as minimum security prisoners. These prisoners should have been afforded rights under the FSA that would allow them to earn credits against their incarceration time and be released to home confinement or other forms of less restrictive custody. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many minimum security prisoners' ability to be released early.

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Appeals Court Addresses Sentencing for Child Pornography Offenses

 Posted on December 30, 2022 in Criminal Defense

Hartford Criminal Defense LawyerWhile there are numerous situations where people may face criminal charges, some of the most serious cases involve crimes against children. Possession or distribution of child pornography is taken very seriously by law enforcement, and these cases often result in federal charges. However, these cases can also result in confusion about the penalties that may apply following a conviction. Recently, a ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals addressed how sentencing is handled when considering possession of video depictions of child pornography as opposed to still images.

Child Pornography Sentencing Guidelines Upheld

In the case in question, United States v. Phillips, a man was convicted of possessing 172 images and 92 videos that depicted child pornography. Under the United States Sentencing Guidelines, the sentences in these cases are based on the number of images that a person possessed. However, this leads to some ambiguity, since videos are different than still images. To address this issue, the Sentencing Guidelines include commentary stating that a 75-to-1 ratio should be used for videos. That is, one video should be considered to be equivalent to 75 images. Based on this rule, the defendant in this case was given the maximum sentence enhancement, and he was ultimately sentenced to 151 months in prison.

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How Can Blood Alcohol Concentration Affect DUI Arrests and Charges?

 Posted on December 22, 2022 in Criminal Defense

East Hartford Drunk Driving LawyerDrunk or intoxicated driving is illegal. The use of alcohol or other intoxicating substances can significantly affect a person's ability to operate a vehicle safely. A person who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol is much more likely to be involved in a car accident that could result in the injury or death of others. Because of these risks, police officers may pull over drivers who appear to be intoxicated, and if they have probable cause to believe that a person has violated the law, they may perform an arrest, and the person may be charged with driving under the influence (DUI)

However, many people are unsure about how much alcohol they will need to drink to be considered legally intoxicated. An understanding of the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels that people are likely to experience after consuming alcohol and the effects that this can have on them can help people know when they are intoxicated and when they may face DUI charges if they drive after drinking.

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Advocates Seek to Limit Cases Where Juveniles Are Tried as Adults

 Posted on December 09, 2022 in Criminal Defense

Hartford Juvenile Crimes LawyerMinors who are accused of committing criminal offenses often struggle to be treated fairly as they navigate the justice system. Juvenile justice cases typically focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment, and minors are often able to participate in programs meant to help them avoid future criminal activity and ensure that they can have a positive impact on their communities. Juvenile offenders may receive counseling or drug treatment, and they may be sentenced to community service or probation that will allow them to continue living in their homes and attending school. Incarceration in a juvenile detention facility may be appropriate in some cases, but minors will often be given opportunities that will allow them to return to their homes and reintegrate into society. 

However, there are some situations where minors’ cases may be transferred to adult court, leading to incarceration in adult prisons and other harsh punishments. Juvenile offenders who are tried as adults often face significant difficulties that limit their opportunities and lead them to re-offend. Because of this, criminal justice advocates are calling for new laws to be passed that will put an end to automatic transfers of juvenile offenders to adult courts and ensure that minors can be treated fairly in the justice system.

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Director of Federal Bureau of Prisons Seeks to Implement Reforms

 Posted on December 07, 2022 in Criminal Defense

East Hartford Criminal Defense LawyerThe United States has the highest incarceration rates of any country in the world. There are nearly two million people who are held in jails and prisons at any given time, and in many cases, these prisoners are subject to abuse and inhumane treatment. Criminal justice advocates have been calling attention to the conditions in U.S. prisons for years, and they have sought to put reforms in place to protect the rights of prisoners and focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment. In a positive sign, the person who was recently appointed as the director of the federal Bureau of Prisons is looking to implement some of these reforms.

Reforming the Bureau of Prisons

Collette Peters was named the director of the Bureau of Prisons in July of 2022. She had previously served as the director of the prison system in Oregon, where she sought to ensure that prisons were "normal and humane" while also reducing the overall prison population. She plans to implement some of these same policies in the federal prison system and focus on the rehabilitation of prisoners so that they can reintegrate into their communities after being released.

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