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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1416718478.jpgDefendants in criminal cases often face an uphill battle as they respond to the charges against them. Law enforcement officials have significant resources that they may use as they investigate an alleged crime, gather evidence, and build a case against a person. However, defendants have certain rights, including protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Recently, the Connecticut Supreme Court issued a ruling that may affect the types of searches that may be performed and the evidence that may be allowed in cases involving drug crimes.

Court Rules on Search Warrants, Canine Sniffs, and Visual Sweeps

In the case of State of Connecticut v. Ricardo Correa, the defendant was charged with multiple drug-related offenses. During his initial trial, the defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence, claiming that the evidence was uncovered due to the use of a drug-sniffing dog and an officer’s visual observations that were performed prior to obtaining a search warrant. This motion was denied, and the defendant was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison. The defendant appealed the case, but the Appellate Court ruled against him. However, after a further appeal, the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed the Appellate Court’s decision and found that the search was unconstitutional.

The question of constitutionality in this case involved whether a canine sniff prior to receiving a search warrant is considered to be an illegal search. Officers had been conducting surveillance of the defendant at a motel room, and they performed a sweep on the walkway outside the motel room with a drug-sniffing dog. When the dog indicated that the defendant’s room contained narcotics, officers applied for a search warrant. The defendant claimed that conducting a canine sniff without a warrant was a violation of the Connecticut state constitution’s protections against unreasonable searches or seizures. 

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hartford criminal defense lawyerWhile the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to affect the people’s lives in many ways, one issue that has become a concern is the significant increase in the murder rate throughout the United States. Between 2019 and 2020, the U.S. saw the largest increase in number of murders committed since the 1990s, and the murder rate increased again in 2021. There are a number of possible reasons for this increase, and because so many people may be affected by this issue, it will be important for those involved in these cases to understand how to address potential criminal charges.

Murder Statistics and Potential Reasons for These Trends

In 2020, the total number of murders in the United States increased by nearly 30 percent, with a total of over 21,000 murders. This increase affected people throughout the country in both large cities and areas with lower populations. However, Black people were much more likely to be affected. Nearly half of murder victims in 2020 were Black, and during this time, Black people were eight times more likely to be murdered than white people. While complete data on murders for 2021 have not yet been released, some preliminary data indicate that murders may have increased as much as 15 percent since the previous year.

Even though the specific reasons for the increase in murders is not fully understood, experts believe that there are three primary issues that have led to an increase in violent crime:

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Hartford Criminal Defense Lawyers

People who are convicted of federal crimes often face harsh prison sentences. Fortunately, some programs are available to help these prisoners be released early while also encouraging them to re-enter society successfully and avoid criminal activity in the future. The First Step Act, which was passed in 2018, created a program that allows prisoners to earn time credits against their sentences. The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) recently implemented a new rule that will put this program into effect, and it may allow thousands of prisoners to be released in the near future.

Implementation of the Time Credits Program

The programs created under the First Step Act are meant to help convicts take steps to limit the likelihood that they will re-offend after being released, while also ensuring that they will be productive members of society. The law allows prisoners to earn time credits by participating in Evidence-Based Recidivism Reduction (EBRR) programs such as literacy programs or occupational education programs, as well as Productive Activities (PAs) such as Alcoholics Anonymous, drug abuse treatment programs, and programs that address physical and mental health and provide education and job training.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1549604996.jpgAs the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year, large numbers of people throughout the United States are still becoming ill. To protect public safety as much as possible, government institutions, including the court system, are continuing to take steps to minimize the potential spread of infections. These measures may affect both criminal and civil cases, and those who are involved in these matters will want to understand how they may be affected and how they can make sure their rights will be protected during legal proceedings.

Court Closures and Options for Remote Courtroom Technology in Connecticut

While state and federal courts in Connecticut have implemented measures meant to protect people’s safety, they have been required to make repeated changes to address potential risks. Most recently, the spread of the highly-infectious Omicron variant of Covid has led the U.S. District Court of Connecticut to pause all jury trials and jury selections until at least February 1, 2022. While this will affect cases heard in federal courts, state courts may be able to continue operating during this time.

As courts have continued to address the risks to people’s health and safety, they have implemented a variety of measures allowing for certain proceedings to be conducted remotely. The Connecticut Judicial Branch has made extensive use of remote technology, and it now has 145 Remote Justice Courtrooms that are used in criminal and civil cases. In some cases, this has improved efficiency, and it has allowed certain types of proceedings to be completed more quickly and easily. 

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connecticut criminal defense lawyerOne of the worst things a parent can face is the claim that they have committed child abuse or otherwise caused their child to suffer harm. In these situations, a parent may not only face criminal charges, but an investigation by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) may result in children being removed from a parent’s home and other issues that will affect a person’s relationship with their child and other family members. Unfortunately, false claims of child abuse or neglect are all too common, and parents who are accused of committing crimes against children will need to understand the best ways to approach these situations.

Increased Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect

Over the past decade in Connecticut, reports of suspected child abuse by teachers or other staff members at schools have increased by 150 percent. This increase is likely due to a change in the law that requires “mandated reporters” to notify the Commissioner of Children and Families or a law enforcement agency if they reasonably suspect that a child has been abused or neglected or is at risk of physical injury or other forms of harm. Mandated reporters include teachers and school employees, as well as coaches, social workers, or counselors.

Mandated reporters who fail to file a report if they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been the victim of abuse or neglect may face criminal charges. Failure to report child abuse or neglect is a class A misdemeanor. A person may be charged with a class E felony if they intentionally fail to report abuse or neglect, if they fail to make a report due to gross negligence, if they have actual knowledge of abuse or neglect and fail to make a report, or if they commit multiple violations of their reporting requirements. Because of these consequences, school officials have become more likely to report any suspicions that a child may be at risk of harm, and this has led to an increased number of false reports of child abuse or neglect. In 2019, 87 percent of reports made to DCF of suspected child abuse or neglect were determined to be unsubstantiated.

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