Recent Blog Posts

How Can Marijuana Possession or Use Affect Weapons Charges?

 Posted on February 28,2023 in Criminal Defense

Hartford Drug Crime LawyerOver the past decade, the use of marijuana has become more and more accepted throughout the United States. Several states, including Connecticut, have made marijuana legal for both recreational use and medical purposes. However, marijuana is still considered to be an illegal controlled substance at the federal level. Because of this, the possession or use of marijuana can affect certain types of criminal cases. For example, federal law states that it is illegal for a person to possess a firearm if they are addicted to drugs or if they are an "unlawful user" of controlled substances. While this has led some marijuana users to face weapons charges, a federal judge recently ruled that this law is unconstitutional.

Law Prohibiting Gun Possession by Marijuana Users Violates Second Amendment

In the case of United States of America v. Jared Michael Harrison, an Oklahoma man was pulled over by a police officer, and during the traffic stop, the officer noticed the smell of marijuana in the vehicle. When the man's vehicle was searched, officers found a loaded handgun and several marijuana products, including joints, THC gummies, and vape cartridges. The man was charged with possession of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia, and he also was indicted on federal charges for possessing a firearm as an unlawful user of marijuana.

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How Can Data Collected by Law Enforcement Affect Criminal Cases?

 Posted on February 23,2023 in Criminal Defense

East Hartford Criminal Defense LawyerData privacy is an issue that has become increasingly important in recent years. As people have become more aware of the types of information collected by companies such as cell phone providers, social media platforms, and government organizations, laws are beginning to be put in place to ensure that sensitive information can be protected. As more attention is being paid to how technology firms and other companies use people's data, the ways this type of information is accessed and used by law enforcement have also received greater scrutiny. However, many people are unaware of what types of data police officers or other law enforcement officials can access and how this information may be used in criminal cases.

Questions About the Use of Personal Data in Police Investigations

There are numerous ways that police officers may use data collected from multiple sources to investigate crimes. In some cases, searches involving data may be performed as police investigate a particular suspect or review information related to a specific event. However, they may often conduct much broader and more sweeping investigations, collecting and storing personal information and other data that could potentially be used to prosecute future crimes.

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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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