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Hartford weapons charges defense lawyerIn recent years, the use of deadly force by police officers has become a major concern for people throughout the United States. Police shootings occur regularly, and they often result in the deaths of suspects, including people who were unarmed or those who potentially could have been subdued by other means. In some cases, police are authorized to use deadly force against those who are wielding knives or other weapons. To avoid becoming a victim in these types of situations, those who could be arrested on criminal charges related to knives or other weapons will want to understand when police officers are permitted to use deadly force.

Recent Appeals Court Decision Illustrates When Deadly Force May Be Used

A case that was recently heard in the 9th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals involved an incident in which police officers killed a man who was armed with a knife. The man committed “suicide by cop” in which he called 911 and falsely reported an assault by a man with a knife. When two officers arrived at the scene, he ran toward them while carrying a knife, and the officers opened fire. He was fatally wounded after being shot 10 times.

The man’s survivors pursued a civil rights lawsuit against the officers, but their case was dismissed by a district judge, who ruled that the officers’ use of deadly force was justified. The appeals court reviewed the case and looked at some of the key facts of the issue, including whether officers followed what is known as the “21-foot rule.” This is not an actual rule followed by police departments, but more of a guideline that states that a person carrying a knife or a similar deadly weapon may present a threat if they are within 21 feet of an officer, and this may justify the use of deadly force.

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Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney for false confessionsThose who are accused of committing crimes will often be unsure about their rights and the procedures followed when they are arrested and questioned by police officers. Unfortunately, this puts many people at a serious disadvantage, and they may say or do things that could be used against them in a criminal case. In far too many cases, police officers manipulate suspects into confessing to crimes that they did not commit, leading to convictions and lengthy prison sentences for those who are innocent. 

It is impossible to know how many people throughout the United States have been convicted based on false confessions. However, The Innocence Project, which has used DNA evidence to exonerate hundreds of people who have been wrongfully convicted, reports that false confessions were a factor in 29% of these cases. Those who are facing criminal charges or accusations will want to be sure to understand their rights and the ways they can avoid incriminating themselves.

Police Officers Are Allowed to Lie to Suspects

In most cases, false confessions occur because police officers mislead suspects or tell outright lies. The “Miranda rights” that protect suspects in the United States allow a person to decline to speak to police officers, while also giving them the right to have an attorney present during an interrogation. However, while police officers are required to inform suspects of these rights, they are not restricted from making misleading or false statements during an interrogation.

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Connecticut criminal law attorney for jury trialsDue to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, federal and state courts in Connecticut have once again delayed the date when jury trials can resume. State trials had previously been scheduled to resume in November of 2020, but they were rescheduled to December 31, and following another delay, the dates for when they can resume are currently uncertain. Federal trials had been scheduled to resume on February 1, 2021, but that date has been delayed to May 3. These delays mean that those who are awaiting a trial on criminal charges will be forced to wait longer until their cases can be resolved. 

To address these delays, courts in some states have taken steps to conduct trials virtually using video conferencing software and other online tools. However, many criminal defense attorneys and criminal justice advocates have raised concerns about these types of trials, since they present a number of issues that may affect a person’s right to receive a fair trial.

Problems With Online Trials

To avoid the risks of conducting trials in person, video conferencing apps such as Zoom may be used, allowing attorneys, defendants, jurors, and other personnel to participate in a trial from a remote location. However, this presents a number of concerns related to the procedures that are followed during a trial and the ability of all parties to participate.

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Hartford criminal law attorney for Fourth Amendment rightsPeople in the United States have the expectation that their Constitutional rights will be protected in encounters with law enforcement officials. The Fourth Amendment provides protection against unreasonable searches, and this typically means that before police officers or other officials can search a person’s home, vehicle, or electronic devices, they must either receive consent from the person, or they must obtain a search warrant that is based on probable cause that the person has committed a crime. While these rights apply to people within the United States, many people do not realize that when traveling internationally, their phones, laptop computers, or other electronic devices may be subject to searches by customs agents, and in many cases, these searches are performed without obtaining warrants or receiving consent from a device’s owner.

Appeals Court Considers Legality of Border Searches

Concerns about the increasing use of warrantless searches by customs agents have been raised by advocates for privacy and civil liberties. In 2017, the Customs and Border Patrol (CPB) conducted more than 30,000 searches of electronic devices at U.S. borders, which was a massive increase from about 8,500 searches in 2015. Current CBP policies allow agents to open a person’s device and search through its contents, and agents can confiscate a device for up to five days without providing a reason for doing so. 

A number of lawsuits have been filed against the Department of Homeland Security by people who have been subject to these types of searches. In one case that is currently being heard by the First Circuit Court of Appeals, a group of 11 people are challenging the CBP’s policies, claiming that their First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated by border searches. The plaintiffs are all either U.S. Citizens or lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders), and customs officers conducted searches of their devices without obtaining warrants or accusing them of any crimes. In some cases, devices were confiscated and kept for multiple weeks or months.

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East Hartford criminal defense lawyer for collateral consequencesMost people understand that breaking the law can result in a variety of penalties. A conviction on criminal charges can result in large fines, a prison sentence, and other punishments. However, what many people may not realize is that criminal offenders will often face a lifetime of additional consequences, even after they have fully completed their sentences. A criminal record can place a number of restrictions on a person, and because of this, many convicts struggle to maintain stability in their lives and avoid additional criminal activities. Criminal justice advocates are working to bring people’s attention to this issue and help those who have paid their debt to society successfully reintegrate into their communities.

Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction

There are penalties associated with different types of criminal convictions, and these can range in severity depending on whether a person is charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, the circumstances of their alleged crime, and whether they have any previous convictions. In addition to these penalties, offenders may face a variety of “collateral consequences” after serving their sentence and being released. 

Advocates have identified more than 45,000 different types of collateral consequences that affect convicts throughout the United States. In Connecticut, these consequences include:

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