Recent blog posts

Connecticut distracted driving car accident attorneyDistracted driving is one of the most serious problems plaguing today’s roads. It is so easy, especially with the popularity and availability of cell phones and other handheld devices, for drivers to pay attention to something other than the road, putting themselves and everyone else around them in danger. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were nearly 3,200 people killed in car accidents involving a distracted driver in 2017. The NHTSA also estimates that more than 420,000 people are injured in accidents involving distracted drivers every year. These injuries can range from superficial scrapes or bruises to severe injuries, such as whiplash or traumatic brain injuries.

What Is Distracted Driving?

There are a couple of definitions people use when they talk about distracted driving. In general, the NHTSA defines distracted driving as something that diverts a driver’s attention from the task of safely operating their vehicle. This can be literally any type of distraction, from a child in the back seat to a cell phone.

Types of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is the collective term used for multiple types of activities that cause a driver to take their attention from the road. There are three different types of distractions that can affect drivers:

...

East Hartford criminal defense lawyer for juvenile chargesThe juvenile justice system has always functioned differently than the adult criminal justice system -- and for good reason. Since the creation of the first juvenile justice court in Illinois at the end of the 19th century, it has been known that youth who come into contact with the criminal justice system have different needs than adults who find themselves in trouble. All states have a separate criminal justice system for juveniles, though in recent years, an increased focus has been placed on reducing the number of juveniles who come into contact with the criminal justice system. In an effort to follow suit, Connecticut recently passed a law to make certain juvenile trials are more private.

Reduced Charges Can Be Transferred Back to Juvenile Court

The new law, Public Act 19-187, changes quite a few things concerning the juvenile justice system. Existing laws state that the juvenile court is required to automatically transfer a case involving a child who is at least 15 years old to adult court if the case involves murder, a Class A felony or certain Class B felonies. If a juvenile is charged with any other type of felony, it is up to the court’s discretion to transfer the case or not.

The Act allows a case that was transferred to adult court to be transferred back to juvenile court if the charges were reduced to charges that would have been discretionary. Before the transfer can take place, however, it must be proven that the transfer was done for a good reason, and the transfer must be completed before the defendant pleads guilty.

...

Connecticut criminal defense attorney for informant testimonyThe United States is a unique country in many ways. When it comes to the U.S. legal system, defendants are given quite a few inherent freedoms that many other countries do not provide. The way the legal system is set up here in our country, law enforcement officials can give individuals clemency for certain crimes in exchange for information. For example, police can choose to let a person walk free if they can offer up information about a crime committed by someone else. Prosecutors have the ability to recommend a lesser sentence or even drop criminal charges altogether if a defendant cooperates. One of the best examples of this is the practice of allowing prison inmates to testify against other inmates in exchange for various benefits.

The Issue With Jailhouse Informants

Recently, the use of jailhouse informants has become a hot topic. This has come in part because of the availability of new DNA testing technology that has helped quite a few people be declared innocent of the crimes they were accused of committing. Many of the people who have been exonerated were convicted because of testimony from jailhouse informants, whose intentions are not always the best. In many cases, informants are offered certain benefits for providing testimony, such as a reduction in their own sentences.

...

East Hartford criminal defense lawyer for state and federal chargesThe United States Constitution gives citizens dozens of rights that are indicative of the spirit and history of the country, such as the right to free speech, the right to peacefully protest, and the right to bear arms. These rights are contained in the first ten Amendments, called the Bill of Rights, and they are constantly being analyzed in different contexts by scholars, lawmakers, and the members of the U.S. Supreme Court. One of these rights is the protection against double jeopardy, or being tried for the same crime more than once. This has been an issue that has wedged its way into the Supreme Court more than once and that has held precedent for many years.

Understanding Dual Sovereignty and Double Jeopardy

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution contains a variety of protections and rights given to citizens concerning criminal trials. One of these protections is from what is known as “double jeopardy” or being tried for the same crime twice. Originally, the Fifth Amendment was only meant to apply to the federal government, but over the years, the Supreme Court has ruled that it also applies to state governments.

The issue that the Supreme Court has faced again and again is whether or not a person can be tried for the same instance of a crime in both state and federal courts. For many years, the Supreme Court has upheld that a person can, in fact, be tried in both state and federal courts for the same instance of a crime because the state government and federal government are technically two different jurisdictions or “sovereigns.” This is known as the dual sovereignty doctrine.

...

Connecticut criminal defense attorney for marijuana crimesIn recent years, the recreational and medical use of marijuana has become legal in several states across the country. Currently, 33 states, including Connecticut, permit the medicinal use of marijuana, and 11 states and the District of Columbia allow the recreational use of marijuana for adults. Even just 10 years ago, police could use the “smell of marijuana” as a legitimate reason to search a citizen’s vehicle or person for evidence which could be used to pursue charges for drug possession or DUI. However, times have changed, and some courts have found that this is not an adequate reason to conduct a search.

Is Marijuana Odor Considered Evidence?

Now that more than half of the states have legalized marijuana in some way, lawmakers and law enforcement officials have run into an issue of constitutionality when it comes to using the smell of marijuana as probable cause to search a vehicle or a person. In the minority of states that have not legalized marijuana, a police officer who believes they smell pot has probable cause to search a vehicle in most cases. In other states, however, the line has become blurred, because the smell of pot does not necessarily point to a crime.

“Pot Smell” and the Fourth Amendment

The “automobile exception” has long been recognized by the Supreme Court as an exception to the Fourth Amendment, which states that citizens have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures without a warrant. In many cases, a vehicle may be searched without the need to obtain a warrant if an officer has probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. Police have long used the smell of marijuana as an excuse to conduct vehicle searches, though it is now being reconsidered whether or not the supposed presence of this type of odor is enough to allow a warrantless search. Courts in many states, such as Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maryland, have ruled that marijuana odor no longer gives police the right to search a vehicle.

...
Logo Image 50 Founders Plaza
East Hartford, CT 06108
Phone: 860-290-8690
Fax: 860-290-8697
We are available by appointment during evening and weekend hours, if necessary.

Facebook   Twitter   Our Blog