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hartford defense lawyerChild pornography and other forms of child sexual abuse are a major concern in today’s society, and law enforcement officials have many tools at their disposal that they use to identify potential sexual predators and prosecute them for crimes against children. However, the increasing use of these tools has raised concerns about privacy and the violation of people’s Constitutional rights. Apple recently announced that it will be implementing a new feature that will search people’s iPhones to identify photos that may be considered child pornography. Multiple privacy and security advocates have argued that this feature is a troubling invasion of people’s privacy, and it could potentially be misused by law enforcement or other parties.

Problems With Apple’s Anti-CSAM Features

In an upcoming update to the iPhone operating system, Apple will be implementing new features meant to identify child sexual abuse material (CSAM). These features will scan users’ photos and compare their “digital fingerprints” with images in public databases of known child pornography images. If a match is found, an image will be reviewed by an Apple employee, and confirmed matches may result in law enforcement being notified and provided with a user’s information.

Other technology companies, such as Facebook, have used similar methods to scan photos uploaded by users. However, Apple’s new feature is different in that it will not just scan photos that have been uploaded to iCloud, but it will also scan photos stored on people’s individual devices. Security researchers have raised concerns that this opens the door to increased surveillance of users by law enforcement, as well as potential abuse by government officials who wish to track the activities of protestors, activists, or journalists. 

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hartford criminal defense lawyerMost people are aware of the potential consequences that they may face if they are accused of violating the law. A conviction on criminal charges can result in significant fines, jail time, probation, or other penalties, depending on the severity of the offense and the circumstances surrounding a case. However, many people do not realize that law enforcement officials may also seize people’s money or property, and this is sometimes done without a person ever being accused of or charged with a crime.

Understanding Civil Asset Forfeiture

Federal and state laws allow police officers or other law enforcement officials to seize assets that they believe are connected to a crime, including cash, vehicles, homes, or other property. If police officers have a “reasonable” belief that these assets were obtained through the proceeds of a crime, were used to further criminal activity, or were otherwise related to an alleged violation of the law, these assets can be confiscated. However, in many cases, these forfeitures occur even when a person is never officially charged with a criminal offense.

While officials often claim that civil asset forfeiture is used against drug dealers or others who are involved in serious crimes, they are much more likely to target low-income people and those who do not have the financial resources to challenge this type of seizure. One investigation found that the average amount seized by law enforcement is $1,276. In many cases, police departments keep the money or property seized through civil asset forfeiture for their own use, giving officers the incentive to confiscate cash or other valuable property whenever possible. 

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Connecticut Criminal Defense LawyerHigh-speed car chases can be exciting in movies or TV shows, but when they take place in the real world, they are likely to cause serious injuries or deaths. When police officers choose to chase a vehicle, they often put multiple people at risk, including innocent bystanders such as pedestrians and people in other vehicles. While officers may pursue a person for a variety of reasons, often claiming that doing so is necessary to protect public safety, most police chases involve minor traffic violations rather than serious criminal charges

Injuries and Deaths in Police Chases

Determining the actual number of people who have been injured or killed because of police chases is somewhat difficult. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the primary source of data regarding traffic-related deaths. However, reports to the NHTSA by police departments do not always state that deaths occurred in a police chase, and records may not indicate whether a person who was killed was a participant in a chase or an innocent bystander. Determining the number of people injured is even more difficult since the NHTSA only tracks fatal accidents.

By analyzing data from the past several decades, researchers have estimated that an average of 323 people are killed each year in police chases, and innocent bystanders account for 27 percent of these deaths. While the actual number of injuries suffered in police chases is unknown, it is estimated that as many as 7,400 people per year are injured. Minorities are disproportionately affected, with Black people being three times more likely to be killed in police chases as either suspects or bystanders.

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hartford defense lawyerThe “war on drugs” has led law enforcement officials to crack down on anyone who is suspected of illegally possessing, selling, distributing, or manufacturing controlled substances. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there has been an increase in the number of drug overdoses related to fentanyl. Because of this, authorities may be looking to pursue drug charges against those who are accused of possessing this substance. Anyone who has been arrested for drug possession or distribution will need to secure representation from a criminal defense lawyer.

Increased Concerns About Fentanyl and Cocaine

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that has become more available in recent years, since it is fairly easy and inexpensive to manufacture. It is highly addictive, and it is often more potent than other opioid drugs. Recently, officials have raised concerns about an increased number of overdoses involving the combination of fentanyl and cocaine. These overdoses may have occurred because the drugs were unintentionally mixed together or because drug users attempted to use multiple substances at the same time. Those who have not built up a tolerance for fentanyl are more likely to experience dangerous or fatal overdoses.

Fentanyl-Related Drug Charges in Connecticut

Under Connecticut law, illegal possession of a controlled substance may be charged as a Class A misdemeanor, and a conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to one year, as well as a maximum fine of $2,000. However, law enforcement officials may pursue charges for possession of controlled substances with the intent to sell, distribute, give, or administer these substances to someone else. The specific charges will usually be based on the amount of drugs that are found in a person’s possession, and even seemingly small amounts of fentanyl or other drugs could lead to charges of illegally manufacturing, distributing, or selling controlled substances.

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hartford defense lawyerImmigrants to the United States may run afoul of a variety of laws that could affect their immigration status. There are multiple issues that could potentially lead to deportation, including being convicted of certain types of crimes. In some cases, law enforcement officials may ask a person to cooperate with an investigation, telling them that by doing so, they can receive an S visa that will allow them to remain in the United States. However, criminal justice and immigration advocates have found that these types of visas are rarely granted, and in many cases, immigrants will still face deportation even if they cooperate with law enforcement and meet all of their legal requirements.

Problems With S Visas

S visas, which are commonly known as “snitch visas,” are available for those who have provided assistance to a law enforcement agency as a witness or informant in a criminal investigation. Up to 200 S visas can be issued each year for people who assist with criminal cases, and an additional 50 visas can be issued in cases related to terrorism investigations. Initially, a person will be allowed to stay in the U.S. with a nonimmigrant status, and if they meet all requirements during the investigation where they are serving as an informant or witness, they will be allowed to apply for a Green Card and become a Lawful Permanent Resident.

Unfortunately, the S visa system has not functioned in practice the way that it is meant to, and very few of these visas are actually issued. In 2018, only 16 S visas were approved in criminal cases, and since 1995, only six visas have ever been approved in cases related to terrorism. In many cases, S visas take between 5 to 10 years to be processed, and they can be denied at any point, resulting in a person losing their immigration status and being deported, even if they have complied with all government requests and fulfilled all of their obligations during an investigation.

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