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East Hartford Harassment Defense LawyerThere are numerous situations where people may face criminal charges due to stalking or harassment. Due to the ever-increasing use of digital technology and social media, many of these cases involve claims that a person posted messages online that caused others to fear for their safety. These cases sometimes involve issues that are difficult to resolve, since people may claim that they are exercising their right to free speech. The ways these matters are addressed can differ depending on state laws, and whether messages may be considered harassment is not always clear. However, the Supreme Court may soon offer some clarity on this issue, as it is scheduled to hear a case involving online harassment.

When Are Threatening Messages Considered to Be Harassment?

The case in question, Counterman v. Colorado, involved a man who was convicted under a Colorado law that prohibits sending repeated communication to a person in a manner that would cause them to experience emotional distress. The defendant in this case was accused of stalking a singer-songwriter over a period of several years. Even after being blocked repeatedly, he created new social media accounts and continued to communicate with the alleged victim, with many messages seeming to convey threats. The defendant was convicted of stalking and sentenced to 4.5 years in prison.

Notably, the applicable law in Colorado does not require proof that a person intended to cause distress or harm. If a person's actions or the messages they sent would cause someone to reasonably fear for their safety, the person may be convicted of stalking. Even if no direct threats were expressed, the totality of the person's conduct, such as multiple messages sent over a long period of time, may be considered to determine whether this conduct would reasonably cause an alleged victim to fear that they could suffer harm.


Hartford Drug Crime LawyerOver the past decade, the use of marijuana has become more and more accepted throughout the United States. Several states, including Connecticut, have made marijuana legal for both recreational use and medical purposes. However, marijuana is still considered to be an illegal controlled substance at the federal level. Because of this, the possession or use of marijuana can affect certain types of criminal cases. For example, federal law states that it is illegal for a person to possess a firearm if they are addicted to drugs or if they are an "unlawful user" of controlled substances. While this has led some marijuana users to face weapons charges, a federal judge recently ruled that this law is unconstitutional.

Law Prohibiting Gun Possession by Marijuana Users Violates Second Amendment

In the case of United States of America v. Jared Michael Harrison, an Oklahoma man was pulled over by a police officer, and during the traffic stop, the officer noticed the smell of marijuana in the vehicle. When the man's vehicle was searched, officers found a loaded handgun and several marijuana products, including joints, THC gummies, and vape cartridges. The man was charged with possession of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia, and he also was indicted on federal charges for possessing a firearm as an unlawful user of marijuana.

While marijuana has been approved for medical use in Oklahoma, the defendant in this case did not have a medical marijuana card. Because he was in violation of the state's marijuana laws, he was eligible for prosecution under the federal law prohibiting weapon possession by people who have violated drug laws. However, a federal judge dismissed the indictment, and in his ruling, he stated that the law in question is unconstitutional. Specifically, he ruled that the law violated the right to bear arms as defined in the Second Amendment.


East Hartford Criminal Defense LawyerData privacy is an issue that has become increasingly important in recent years. As people have become more aware of the types of information collected by companies such as cell phone providers, social media platforms, and government organizations, laws are beginning to be put in place to ensure that sensitive information can be protected. As more attention is being paid to how technology firms and other companies use people's data, the ways this type of information is accessed and used by law enforcement have also received greater scrutiny. However, many people are unaware of what types of data police officers or other law enforcement officials can access and how this information may be used in criminal cases.

Questions About the Use of Personal Data in Police Investigations

There are numerous ways that police officers may use data collected from multiple sources to investigate crimes. In some cases, searches involving data may be performed as police investigate a particular suspect or review information related to a specific event. However, they may often conduct much broader and more sweeping investigations, collecting and storing personal information and other data that could potentially be used to prosecute future crimes.

One area of concern involves "predictive policing," in which data collected from a variety of sources is used by algorithms and artificial intelligence programs to supposedly predict when and where crimes are more likely to occur or to identify people who may engage in criminal activity. Because these programs use existing data related to police records and offenses that have been prosecuted in the past, they are likely to increase inequities in the justice system. For example, one key source of data for these programs is previous arrest records. Because Black people and other minorities are more likely to be stopped and questioned by police, arrested, and prosecuted for criminal offenses, systems that use data about these arrests are more likely to identify Black suspects as potential criminals instead of white people.


Hartford Criminal LawyerBased on how it is portrayed in TV and movies, forensic science can seem infallible. Police officers on TV shows seem to use amazing technology and deductive skills to determine exactly how a crime occurred, identify suspects, and prosecute those who are guilty. However, these fictional depictions of criminal investigations are very different from how cases are handled in the real world. In reality, forensic science is often unreliable, and in many cases, police must rely on guesswork, or they may approach a case with biases and use forensic investigation methods to confirm their suspicions. Far too often, “junk science” is used during the criminal prosecution of suspects, and evidence may be accepted as incontrovertible proof of guilt without questioning its flaws.

Reasons Why Junk Forensic Science Is Unreliable

There are a variety of investigation methods used by police officers, and in some cases, supposed "experts" will encourage the use of certain techniques that are questionable and unreliable. In many cases, these methods will be based on the subjective interpretations of investigators and oversimplifications of complex factors. "Experts" often have limited evidence or scientific research to support their claims, yet they will portray their methods as conclusive, without acknowledging the possibility of errors.

Unfortunately, junk forensic science is accepted as valid evidence in criminal cases all too often. Judges may allow "experts" to testify without questioning whether their methods are valid or reliable. Defendants may be convicted based on claims that a person's interpretation of evidence is absolutely correct, even when they have been found to be incorrect in the past.


Hartford Criminal Defense LawyerThe criminal justice system in the United States is meant to be fair, ensuring that those who are accused of crimes can defend themselves and that those who are convicted of crimes will be sentenced appropriately. However, there are many injustices in this system, and defendants often struggle to protect their rights and ensure that they are treated fairly. One issue that has recently received attention is the fact that people who are convicted of crimes may sometimes face longer sentences based on offenses that a jury determined they were not guilty of committing. This practice is known as “acquitted-conduct sentencing,” and it may soon be addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

What Is Acquitted-Conduct Sentencing?

In many cases, people who are involved in criminal cases will face multiple charges. When a person is convicted on some charges but acquitted on others, they should only be sentenced based on the charges they were actually convicted for. However, in many cases, judges consider other factors that may warrant an increased sentence, including offenses that a person was acquitted of. This means that even when a person is acquitted of a crime, they may face a sentence similar to what they would have received if they had been convicted of that offense.

The case that the Supreme Court has been asked to review, McClinton v. United States, provides an example of how acquitted-conduct sentencing often works. In this case, the defendant was accused of robbing a pharmacy along with several other people. After the robbery, one of the people involved in the robbery was shot and killed, and the defendant was accused of committing the murder. He faced charges of both robbery and homicide. However, the homicide charge was based solely on statements made by three other defendants involved in the robbery, who pleaded guilty and provided testimony in exchange for reduced sentences.

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