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Connecticut criminal defense lawyer for eyewitness testimonyWhen a person faces criminal charges, a prosecutor will present evidence that is meant to show that they are guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. This would seem to be a high standard that ensures that a person will only be convicted if there is no uncertainty about whether they actually committed the crime they are accused of. Unfortunately, the reality in many criminal cases is much different, and people are often convicted based solely on the testimony of eyewitnesses. While people’s observations may seem to be reliable, studies have shown that there are many factors that can affect what a witness sees and remembers, and as a result, many people have been wrongfully convicted.

The Problems With Eyewitness Testimony

“You don’t remember what happened. What you remember becomes what happened.” -John Green

Most people trust what they see, and because of this, they will believe witnesses who report that they observed a crime and can identify a suspect. However, many people do not realize how unreliable witnesses’ memories actually are. Scientists who have studied these issues report that there are many reasons why people may fail to properly recall what they believe they saw, and they often involve uncertainty and bias.

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Hartford, CT criminal defense lawyer for clearing criminal recordsIt is well-understood that committing a crime can lead to multiple types of consequences. However, many people are not fully aware of the long-term effects of being convicted on criminal charges. Even after a person has served their sentence, they will have a criminal record that will show up in background checks, which can affect their ability to obtain employment, secure housing, or pursue education. To address this issue and help people convicted of crimes better reintegrate into society, the Connecticut state Senate recently passed a “Clean Slate” bill.

Potential Changes in the Clean Slate Bill

The bill passed by the Senate would automatically erase certain types of criminal convictions from a person’s record after they have successfully completed their sentence and have not committed any crimes for a certain number of years. Misdemeanor convictions may be erased seven years after the date of conviction, and Class D or Class E felony convictions may be erased after 10 to 15 years.

Supporters of the bill believe that it strikes a balance between ensuring that criminals are punished for their crimes and allowing people who have served their debt to society to avoid ongoing collateral consequences. For far too many people, a criminal conviction can function as a life sentence, even for relatively minor offenses. Those who are unable to find employment because of a criminal record are likely to commit further crimes. Clearing criminal records after the proper amount of time has passed will ultimately increase public safety.

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Connecticut criminal law attorney for probation violationsThe issue of mass incarceration has received a great deal of attention in recent years. However, probation is another aspect of the criminal justice system that affects even more people than incarceration, and advocates for criminal justice reform believe that it is used far too often and imposes unnecessary restrictions that affect people’s rights. Because of this, many are calling for changes to laws and policies that would increase protections for people who are involved in criminal cases and help them receive the treatment and rehabilitation they need.

Problems With Probation

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has reported that in 2018, 3.54 million people in the United States were serving a sentence of probation, while 1.6 million people were incarcerated in jails and prisons. This illustrates how often sentences of probation are issued in criminal cases. In fact, probation is often the default sentence imposed when defendants make plea bargains with prosecutors and agree to plead guilty in order to receive lesser charges.

While probation is often seen as an alternative to prison that allows a defendant to receive rehabilitation while remaining integrated into the community, it can impose a number of restrictions that affect people’s rights. Those on probation are subject to supervision, monitoring, and other forms of control, and they are often required to follow multiple types of arbitrary conditions that are unrelated to their criminal charges. 

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Hartford criminal law attorney for electronic evidenceElectronic data is a factor that plays an important role in an increasing number of criminal cases. Law enforcement officials use multiple different methods to collect data about suspects, including where they have traveled and the people they have contacted or associated with. While people are becoming more aware of the risks that their personal information may be accessed through their cell phones, they may not realize that the vehicles they drive may also be collecting information that could be accessed by law enforcement. 

The extent of this issue was recently made clear when The Intercept obtained a contract between U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and a Swedish firm that provided “vehicle forensics kits.” This contract described the ways that CBP could use the firm’s technology to obtain evidence about how a vehicle was used, as well as data from cell phones or mobile devices that paired with a vehicle. While this specific contract only applied to CBP, other law enforcement agencies such as local police departments may have access to similar technology that will allow them to obtain vehicle data during criminal investigations.

Types of Data Collected by Vehicles

The computer systems on modern vehicles store a great deal of information that could be used to track a person’s movements and activities. A car’s telematics system can track the speed at which a vehicle has traveled, when headlights were switched on and off, when doors were opened, when seat belts were used, and much more. When combined with information from a vehicle’s navigation system, this may allow law enforcement to determine the locations a person has visited, whether they were carrying passengers, and when they stopped or exited their vehicle.

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Connecticut criminal defense lawyer for traffic stopsTraffic stops have been a topic of discussion recently due to multiple incidents in which people were killed by police officers after being pulled over for minor traffic violations. The most recent high-profile case, which took place in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, involved Daunte Wright, a Black man, being killed after being pulled over for an expired vehicle registration. In that case, the officer claimed that she meant to use a Taser, but accidentally drew her firearm instead and fired a fatal shot. 

Unfortunately, these types of situations occur all too frequently. Many drivers, especially those who are minorities or people of color, worry that they will do the wrong thing after being pulled over, leading police officers to take violent action and injure or kill them. By understanding the right steps to take during a traffic stop, drivers and passengers can avoid being harmed and protect their rights if they end up facing criminal charges.

What You Should Do During a Traffic Stop

Police officers may pull drivers over for a variety of reasons, including speeding or other traffic violations, as well as issues such as expired license plates, broken headlights or tail lights, or because a vehicle matched the description of one that was involved in an alleged crime. In many cases, officers use these types of stops as a pretext to make a criminal arrest for drug charges or motor vehicle theft. If you are stopped by police, you will want to do the following:

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