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Hartford criminal defense lawyer for pardons and deportationIn the United States, immigration has always been a topic of interest, especially in recent years. For many years, immigration requirements have stated that an immigrant who commits certain crimes can lose their citizenship or residency status, and they may be deported by immigration enforcement officials. Immigration laws are complex, and there are many provisions relating to what happens when a non-citizen commits a crime, which is why help from a skilled criminal defense attorney is important in these types of cases.

English Immigrant Receives Pardon for Crimes

In a recent case, an English immigrant who was previously convicted of crimes is still being held in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Boston. ICE is still attempting to deport her, even though she received a full pardon for her crimes. The woman, who is currently a lawful permanent resident of the United States, was four years old when she came to the U.S. with her mother. The crimes that ICE is attempting to deport her for include misdemeanor retail theft charges and a felony larceny charge.

Hartford Woman Still Faces Deportation

Connecticut’s Attorney General has been fighting to stop the deportation that ICE is insisting on. ICE has been trying to deport the woman since 2012. In March of 2019, ICE detained the woman, and one day later, the state of Connecticut issued a full and unconditional pardon for her crimes. ICE is arguing that Connecticut’s pardon does not absolve the woman of her crimes, because the pardon was not granted by the state’s governor, but rather by the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles.

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Connecticut criminal defense attorney for digital evidenceThe Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that all citizens have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government without a warrant. This provides protection against unfair tactics by prosecutors when a person is facing criminal charges. However, in the 21st century, the increased use of digital media has resulted in a slew of complexities in criminal cases. The Fourth Amendment was written to protect the privacy of American citizens, but what happens when your private digital files are no longer private to only you? In some cases, the “private search doctrine” may apply.

What Is the Private Search Doctrine?

Using the private search doctrine, once a private party (who is not involved with the government) has already done an initial search, the government can repeat that search without infringing upon the property owner’s individual Fourth Amendment rights. Basically, the private search doctrine allows the government to perform a search that is not technically a search in the Constitutional sense.

A Recent North Carolina Case Sparks Controversy

In 2014, a North Carolina woman was looking for a photograph on her boyfriend’s USB thumb drive. While she was clicking through folders and subfolders on the drive, she came across a partially-nude photo of her nine-year-old granddaughter. Upset, she stopped her search and informed her daughter of the photo. The pair took the thumb drive to the police station, where a detective began to look through the folders to find the photo the woman was referring to. While the detective was looking, he saw other photos that he thought might be child pornography. Once he found the photo of the woman’s granddaughter, he stopped his search and obtained a warrant to search the thumb drive for photos of child pornography.

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Hartford criminal lawyer for cell phone evidenceIn today’s world, there are many technological advances that previous generations could not even dream of being possible. As the world of technology has advanced, so has the world of forensics. Advancements in technology have also allowed advancements in gathering evidence and processing that evidence for use in criminal cases. Cell phones are one such piece of technology that is used all over the world as a source of criminal evidence.

What Kind of Data Is Used as Evidence?

Cell phones -- especially smartphones -- gather, process, and store all kinds of data. From the text messages you send and receive, the photos you share, or the websites you visit, almost everything you do on your phone is stored and can be retrieved, even if you have deleted it. Some common types of data that can be retrieved from cell phones include:

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 Connecticut criminal law attorney for facial recognition evidenceSince the 1990s, facial recognition technology has become more and more common. What was once just wishful and futuristic thinking is now present in our everyday lives in the United States. Home security devices use facial recognition to identify whether or not a visitor is someone you know. Some airports have implemented facial recognition software at check-in terminals to confirm your identity when you fly. Perhaps the most disturbing use of facial recognition technology is when it is used by law enforcement officials in criminal cases.

Federal Agencies Use Facial Recognition Technology

According to The Washington Post, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been using various states’ driver’s license databases to access photos of millions of Americans without their knowledge or permission. The FBI has long had access to biometric data such as DNA and fingerprints -- but that data was taken from criminal suspects. The majority of the estimated 640 million photos the FBI has access to are of Americans who have never been charged with a crime. Facial recognition searches have become a routine investigative tool by the FBI, but many have argued against the effectiveness of this relatively new technology.

Many Claim Facial Recognition Is Too Inaccurate to Be Used in Law Enforcement

Aside from the privacy concerns that many Americans and lawmakers have, there have also been concerns about the accuracy of facial recognition software in correctly identifying a person. The California American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conducted a study in which photos of the 120 members of the state legislature were run through facial recognition software marketed to law enforcement agencies. Results from the study concluded that one out of every five lawmakers (26 people) were incorrectly matched with people in a database of arrest photos. Even more concerning was the fact that nearly half of those who were incorrectly identified were people of color.

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Hartford assault charges defense lawyerCrimes committed against members of the LGBTQ community have risen slightly over the past three years. According to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), most hate crimes are based on bias toward race and religion, but the number of hate crimes (which may include assault or other violent crimes) based on sexual orientation has risen each year between 2014 and 2017. In 2017, there were 1,130 hate crime incidents reported to the FBI that were based on sexual orientation. In some cases, when the alleged offenders are prosecuted, their defense attorneys use what is called the “gay panic” defense. In recent years, this defense has been outlawed in many states, and Connecticut recently joined the group of states who do not consider the gay panic defense as a legitimate defense strategy.

What Is the “Gay Panic” Defense?

A person who allegedly committed assault or murder against a person may claim that they did so because of the alleged victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This type of strategy may involve claims of insanity or diminished capacity that occurred due to an interaction with a person who is gay or transgender. An alleged offender may also claim that they were provoked to commit a violent offense because of sexual advances made by the alleged victim. The gay panic defense is often seen as blaming the alleged victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity for the alleged offender’s actions. Those who oppose the use of this defense have stated that it may be used to justify and excuse the assault or murder of LGBTQ victims.

Lawmakers Seek to Ban the Gay Panic Defense

Currently, eight states have passed legislation to effectively ban the use of the gay panic defense, with five of those states passing the legislation in 2019. Connecticut’s governor signed a bill banning the use of this defense in June of 2019. He stated that this legislation was necessary because the use of this defense strategy implies that the lives of gay and transgender individuals are less important than the lives of others. Members of the U.S. Congress are currently attempting to introduce legislation that would ban this defense in federal court. Legislation banning the gay panic defense has also been introduced in seven other states and the District of Columbia.

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