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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorneyThe coronavirus pandemic has forced everyone to take a step back and make temporary changes to how things are run, but some Connecticut officials suggest looking into making more permanent changes to the system. One of the most simple changes that has been proposed is simply granting all criminal defendants the right to waive all nonessential court appearances, as long as they are represented by an attorney. The current Practice Book provides for modified procedures if a defendant waives his or her right to a court appearance, although it is not an option for all defendants at all times.

Reasons to Allow Court Appearances to Be Waived

Criminal court cases are notoriously long and complicated processes that can take months, if not years to complete. During the length of the case, the defendant is required to appear at each and every court date. However, that practice is rather repetitive because one of the purposes of a defendant’s arraignment is to determine if that person poses a flight risk. Other ways this requirement impedes the system include:

  • Forcing all defendants to be present can really slow down the efficiency. You cannot just walk into a courthouse. Most courthouses have some sort of security or metal detectors that you must go through before you can gain entrance. Hundreds of people, such as defendants, their family members, lawyers, and others are processed through to wait until their case is called. It is not uncommon during a criminal case for you to be notified that a court date has been rescheduled after you have been waiting for hours.

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Connecticut custodial interference defense lawyerWhen you are a parent, your child’s health and well-being is always at the top of your list of concerns. You always want to be sure that your child is safe, but you cannot always be there for them, especially if you share your parenting time with your child’s other parent. Custodial disputes between parents do not always end with compliance. In some cases, a parent may try to flee with a child or keep the child from seeing their other parent. In these situations, that parent could be charged with parental kidnapping, which is called “custodial interference” in Connecticut.

Connecticut Custodial Interference Laws

While Connecticut laws do not specifically refer to parental kidnapping, there are, however, laws that are a bit more general, defining the offense of “custodial interference.” There are two degrees of custodial interference under Connecticut law, and these offenses may apply to all relatives of a child who is under the age of 16, rather than just the parents. If neither parent has custody of a child or children, a parent cannot be charged with custodial interference unless the other parent seeks an expedited sole custody order, and this order is granted by the court.

Custodial Interference in the Second Degree

For a parent to be guilty of custodial interference in the second degree, they must have either taken or enticed the child from his or her “lawful custodian” when they had no right to do so, with the intention of keeping the child permanently or for an unknown period of time, or they must have held, kept, or refused to return the child to his or her lawful custodian after the custodian has requested the child’s return.

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Hartford domestic violence defense attorneySince late March, the state of Connecticut, much like the rest of the country, has been in lockdown. The state’s stay-at-home order has prevented certain non-essential businesses from conducting in-person operations, and people may only leave their homes to perform essential tasks. For some families, this order has kept them safe. However, for families where domestic violence is a concern, this order may not have had the same effect. Connecticut domestic violence activists are concerned that victims are unable to receive the services they need, and those who are seeking protection or who need to defend against accusations of domestic violence may face difficulties in having their cases heard in court.

Has the Pandemic Increased Domestic Violence Calls?

According to the president and CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV), calls to police regarding domestic violence increased by around 52 percent in early April of this year when compared to a similar period of time in early March. However, some law enforcement reports show that family violence calls decreased in the first two weeks of April 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. Municipal and state police reported that there were 495 family violence calls placed in the first half of April, compared to 519 calls placed during the same period in 2019.

The pandemic has also affected the services available for victims. The state of Connecticut only has 227 licensed emergency beds for domestic violence victims, and these are now almost completely full. Thanks to a $15,000 grant from an anonymous donor, hotel rooms have been provided for an additional 29 victims.

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Connecticut sexual harassment defense lawyerIn 1972, the federal government of the United States passed what is known as the Educational Amendments Act, and one of the key provisions of this act is Title IX. This Act was quintessential in changing the landscape surrounding sexual misconduct in higher education in America. Title IX is a law that protects students from being discriminated against based on their sex when they are involved in educational programs that receive federal funding. Recently, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced a few new rules that will be included in Title IX, and these could potentially affect cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct at colleges and universities.

What Is Title IX?

Title IX is known for prohibiting discrimination based on sex. Specifically, Title IX states that no student is permitted to, “be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination…” solely based on their sex. Title IX applies to more than 16,500 local school districts and 7,000 colleges nationwide, in addition to various charter schools, libraries, and museums. Title IX is also known for prohibiting and punishing sexual harassment, which is considered a form of sex discrimination.

Changes to Title IX

Recently, some major changes to Title IX have been announced, and these will go into effect in August 2020. One of those changes includes moving away from the single-investigator model. Rather than having one person investigate an accusation of misconduct, decide what evidence to use, and produce a report recommending an outcome, the final decision-maker for a case must be a different person than the investigator.

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Hartford criminal defense lawyer illegal video recordingSince the beginning of March, many states across the United States have enacted closures for non-essential businesses and stay-at-home orders for residents. The number of people who are now working from home and students who are attending school through online classes has skyrocketed. Many of these people have been using online video conferencing services such as Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams. The use of these programs has been beneficial for people, but the legalities surrounding these services has been brought into question. Specifically, when is it legal to record someone in Connecticut, and could a person face criminal charges for making an illegal recording?

Who Must Be Aware of the Recording?

There are two stances that are common across the country when it comes to the legality of recording conversations. Some states are “two-party” consent states, which means that all parties involved in the conversation being recorded must be aware of the fact that the recording is taking place and must consent to it. The majority of states, however, are “one-party” consent states, meaning it is legal to record a conversation as long as one party consents to the recording.

In Connecticut, the legality of a recording depends on the circumstances of the situation. When recording an in-person conversation in which the parties are physically present in the same location, only one person needs to be aware of and consent to the recording. If none of the parties are aware of the recording, the person making the recording could be charged with eavesdropping, which is a Class D felony. Connecticut Class D felonies can result in up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

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