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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney juvenile crime

Nearly every jurisdiction in the United States has a special court system for minors designed to rehabilitate them rather than punishing them. This is based on the knowledge that juveniles have a greater capacity for change than adults, which is why Connecticut’s Juvenile Transfer Act was created. The act was intended to close courtrooms and seal the records of juveniles charged with the most serious felonies and whose cases were transferred to adult court. This act went into effect in October 2019, but a federal judge recently ruled that the Juvenile Transfer Act violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Connecticut Constitution.

Federal Judge Orders Records to Be Unsealed

A federal judge in Hartford, CT recently ordered the Connecticut judiciary to open courtrooms and unseal court records related to cases involving juveniles charged with the most serious felonies that were transferred from juvenile to adult court. Under the state’s Juvenile Transfer Act, cases involving minors who commit the most serious felonies, such as murder or sexual assault, which are transferred to adult court are closed to the public, and records are sealed, unless a conviction is reached. The judge ordered all juvenile cases transferred to adult court going forward must be open to the public and all case records, past and future, must be unsealed.

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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney cell phone evidence

In today’s world, our cell phones have become a normal and natural part of our lives. Even just 20 years ago, most people did not own a mobile phone, and the ones who did own them had phones that were nowhere near as powerful as the ones we have today. Smartphones are convenient for many everyday tasks, but they also pose valid privacy concerns for users because of data collection from nearly every app on your device. In some cases, this data may even be used to arrest, charge, or even convict you of a crime in Connecticut.

How Is My Data Being Collected?

Many cell phone users’ personal data is being collected, stored, and sold off without their knowledge. You may wonder how this might happen -- the apps on your phone, in fact, are responsible for most of this data collection. Data trackers are hidden and embedded into many apps that are readily available on the App Store and Google Play. These trackers collect all kinds of information and personal data about you, sell it, and transmit it to various third parties, who are often advertisers. However, advertisers are not the only ones interested in personal data. Recently, it was discovered that location data was being sold to law enforcement to help detain undocumented immigrants. 

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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney

Since March, states across the country have implemented varying degrees of protective measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. In Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont issued various executive orders shutting down many businesses across the state, including government operations, such as judicial matters. Connecticut courts have only been conducting what they consider to be Priority 1 business, such as certain criminal arraignments and emergency child custody matters.

Recently, a handbook was published on the guidelines and procedures to be followed for remote hearings conducted within the Connecticut judicial system. The goal of the courts is to gradually increase the amount of work that is taken on by court staff and attorneys through virtual means for the foreseeable future. While utilizing the technology that exists to conduct court business will help get through a backlog of cases, there have been concerns about issues that remote court hearings may pose.

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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney

The entire country has seen changes like never before due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly every aspect of life has been affected by this public health crisis -- even the criminal justice system. Across the country, court systems have been operating with the bare minimum staff in only a handful of open courthouses. However, even with a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, some municipalities are planning to or have already begun to reopen. The state of Connecticut is one such municipality that has begun to reopen courthouses.

Barriers to Reopening

Reopening courthouses in the midst of a pandemic pose a challenge for the criminal justice system. COVID-19 is a virus that is mainly spread through respiratory droplets that are produced when you talk, sneeze, and cough. Being in close contact with people, which is closer than six feet apart from another person, increases the chances of transmitting the COVID-19 virus. In criminal matters, close contact with other people is often unavoidable. The accused are often subject to pre-trial detention in close quarters. Judges, lawyers, jury members, and other court staff, in addition to the accused, are subject to confined rooms with poor ventilation for most of the day, during which many people speak for extended periods of time.

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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorneyIn recent weeks, tensions have been escalating in the United States between the country’s police force and its citizens, specifically among minority groups. There has always been a backlash against the tactics used by police, with many stating that the weapons and procedures used are too harsh and acts of brutality are too often aimed toward minorities and people of color. A recent instance where an Atlanta police officer fatally shot a black man, Rayshard Brooks, after the man grabbed a taser from the officer has reignited public concern over tasers and stun guns and their effectiveness as law enforcement tools.

In Connecticut, stun guns and tasers are referred to as electronic defense weapons and are actually classified as “dangerous weapons.” This also means that they are subject to certain rules and restrictions, as well as Connecticut residents who choose to own them. Similar to gun regulations, permits are required for anyone seeking to legally own a taser or stun gun. Anyone who does not comply with the state’s dangerous weapons laws faces criminal charges and consequences.

What Is an Electronic Defense Weapon?

A stun gun or electronic defense weapon is a device that was created to temporarily immobilize its targets. Stun guns have been used by law enforcement officers for decades, especially in situations in which suspects have been difficult or uncooperative. A stun gun has the ability to deliver 50,000 volts of electricity to a person, which courses through his or her body. When the weapon is used directly on a person, it typically only causes pain, similar to a shock. When the weapon is used and the probes are discharged, the voltage causes temporary paralysis, pain, and in some cases, death.

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