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hartford criminal defense lawyerFingerprints are generally considered to be unique identifying factors. The patterns in the skin on a person’s fingertips are distinctive, and the latent prints left behind at a crime scene may be used to identify an alleged perpetrator. Because of this, fingerprint evidence can be a crucial factor in a criminal case. However, in recent years, the reliability of this type of evidence has been called into question, and criminal justice advocates have raised concerns about the possibility of false convictions based on fingerprints.

Studies Show Fingerprint Analysis Is Not 100 Percent Accurate

While people may believe that everyone has a unique fingerprint, this has never been proven, and statistical analyses have not been able to determine the probability that multiple people may have the same fingerprints. Even though fingerprints are commonly used as tools in the investigation of crimes by law enforcement, the identification of a person through fingerprint analysis is not completely reliable, and the use of fingerprints without any other forms of corroborating evidence may result in wrongful convictions.

The testimony of fingerprint analysis “experts” is often relied upon in criminal trials. Even if an analyst does not claim that the identification of a suspect through a fingerprint is 100 percent accurate, they will often imply that this evidence is infallible or state that they are certain about a person’s identity based on the latent fingerprints at a crime scene. This will often give juries the idea that the testimony of a fingerprint analyst is completely reliable without considering the potential for errors.


hartford criminal defense lawyerMost people are aware that they may face consequences if they are convicted of a crime. However, they may not realize that there are a number of situations in which police officers or other law enforcement officials may take money or property that they own. These forfeitures may be ordered as a sentence following a conviction, but many people are also subject to civil asset forfeitures in which money or property is taken because officers believe that it was related to criminal activity. Some recent court decisions involving federal crimes may play a role in cases where law enforcement attempts to seize people’s money.

Forfeiture Order Determined to be “Constitutionally Excessive”

In the case of United States v. Akhavan, which took place in a federal court in New York, a judge overturned a forfeiture order against a man who was convicted of bank fraud. The defendant had operated payment processors that tricked banks and credit card companies into accepting payments related to marijuana, even though their policies prohibited these types of transactions. More than $156 million in payments were processed, and the man accepted over $17 million in commissions. The government attempted to seize the entire $17 million, since it had been obtained through fraud.

The judge in this case determined that the forfeiture order was excessive. Since the financial institutions involved in the case did not suffer any losses, the amount would not be seized for remedial purposes, but solely as a punitive measure. In most cases involving these types of white collar crimes, fines range from $250,000 to $1 million. The forfeiture order in this case would have been 17 times the maximum fine for the offense and 170 times the amount of the actual fine that was imposed on the defendant. The judge reduced the forfeiture order to the value of the defendant’s stock options in the business used to commit the offense, which was around $100,000.


hartford criminal defense lawyerFor nearly two years, people throughout the United States have been taking precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19, protect against infections, and stay as safe as possible. During the pandemic, people have become used to certain protective measures, such as wearing face masks when indoors and maintaining social distancing. However, these precautions have had some unexpected effects, including in courts that have resumed in-person trials while taking steps to protect the safety of everyone in the courtroom. Some legal analysts have raised concerns about how face masks worn by people involved in trials will affect the rights of criminal defendants. 

Balancing Public Safety and the Right to a Fair Trial

During a criminal trial, the ability to see and read people’s facial expressions can be crucial. However, this has become more difficult due to the requirements that people involved in trials wear masks. In Connecticut, an executive order issued by Governor Ned Lamont requires everyone entering state Judicial Branch facilities to wear facial coverings over their mouth and nose. Depending on the procedures followed in different courts, witnesses may provide testimony without wearing masks, and attorneys may be able to go unmasked when questioning witnesses or making arguments before a jury. However, other people in the courtroom will usually wear masks during a trial.

When defendants are required to wear masks, this may affect jurors’ perceptions of them throughout a trial. Seeing how a person reacts to statements by witnesses, evidence that is presented, or arguments made by attorneys can provide a great deal of insight for jurors. However, this may not be possible when a defendant’s facial expressions cannot be fully seen. Instead, jurors may need to rely on body language or other cues as they attempt to gauge a defendant’s responses to the issues being addressed.


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1048197574-min.jpgRideshare apps such as Uber and Lyft are used regularly by people throughout the United States. These services can make transportation easy and convenient. However, people may not be aware of the risks that they may face when using rideshare apps. In a troubling trend, thousands of people have reported sexual assaults by rideshare drivers. Those who have been assaulted or otherwise harmed by drivers for Uber or Lyft will want to understand their options for pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against these companies.

Reports of Rideshare Driver Sexual Assaults

Due to ongoing concern about the safety of rideshare passengers, Uber and Lyft have released reports detailing the number of incidents that occurred in recent years. Lyft’s most recent report showed that there were 4,158 reports of sexual assault from its customers between 2017 and 2019. These incidents included 360 reports of rape, with other cases involving nonconsensual touching of body parts or attempted sexual penetration. Reports involving Uber drivers have been even more troubling. Between 2017 and 2018, the company logged around 6,000 reports of sexual assault, including 235 rapes. 

While rideshare companies have noted that the vast majority of rides provided by their drivers do not involve harm to passengers, this does not excuse the fact that drivers have assaulted people while working for these companies. Uber and Lyft have come under fire due to the practices they follow when verifying drivers’ records and allowing them to provide transportation for passengers. While the companies do perform background checks, some people with criminal histories or unsafe driving records have been verified as drivers, potentially putting passengers at risk.


hartford federal crimes defense lawyerFor nearly two years, people throughout the United States have been forced to deal with drastic changes to their lives due to the threat of COVID-19. People in prison are among the most seriously affected, and many have struggled to maintain their safety when being confined in close quarters alongside others and with limited access to medical care. While some recent changes to laws and policies have provided prisoners with benefits that have helped them remain safe, many prisoners who have been convicted of federal crimes are in a state of legal limbo due to ineffective implementation of policies and potential changes once the pandemic ends. 

Issues With Time Credits and Home Detention

The FIRST STEP Act, which was passed by Congress in 2018, provided many benefits for federal prisoners, and one key policy change involved the ability for prisoners to earn time credits and reduce their sentences by participating in rehabilitation programs. The law also included provisions encouraging prisoners to participate in these programs by offering incentives such as increased phone privileges, more visitation time with family members, and transfers to prisons that are closer to their homes and families.

Unfortunately, many of these policies have not been put in place due to negotiations between the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the labor union that represents prison workers. Any changes in prison policies must be negotiated with the union, but these negotiations have not been held for more than 20 months because the BOP has stated that they must be completed remotely, while the union is insisting on in-person meetings. Due to this delay, around 60,000 federal inmates who would able to earn time credits have not been able to participate in these programs.

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