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Connecticut DUI defense attorneyIn all 50 states, it is illegal to drive while you are under the influence of alcohol. If you have a blood alcohol content of more than .08 percent, you can be charged with DUI. If you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, you may be asked to complete a chemical test to determine your BAC. This type of roadside breathalyzer test is used during a traffic stop to establish probable cause. After an arrest, you will be taken to the police station, where there is more accurate equipment that can establish a BAC that will hold up in court. In certain cases, however, a breath test may not always be feasible. In these cases, a urine or blood test may be used. Most of the time, a warrant must be issued before an officer can take a blood sample, though the Supreme Court recently upheld a decision which found that a warrant may not be necessary in some cases.

Supreme Court Rules 5-4 in Favor of Warrantless Blood Tests

Warrantless BAC tests have been the subject of two Supreme Court decisions in recent years. It has been established that officers can conduct warrantless BAC tests if the case has exigent circumstances and that an officer can conduct a warrantless breath test as long as there is probable cause to arrest the driver. In the most recent decision, the Supreme Court examined what to do when a driver is unconscious and cannot submit to a breath test. The supreme court ruled 5-4 that in certain specific situations, it is permissible to administer a blood test without a warrant.

Supreme Court Rules Warrantless Blood Tests Are Not a Violation of the Fourth Amendment

The Justices in favor of this ruling stated that it is not unreasonable for a police officer to administer a blood test to determine a driver’s BAC in cases where the driver is unconscious. If the driver is unconscious and unable to submit to a breath test, the only other way to enforce DUI laws is to administer a blood test. The Justices also stated that an unconscious driver is almost always taken to a hospital, where his or her blood would typically be drawn for other purposes anyways. In addition, they stated that if the unconscious person is part of an accident, the officer’s other duties would prevent him or her from going through the steps needed to obtain a warrant in a timely manner.

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Hartford criminal defense lawyer for teen sex offensesAdvances in technology are constantly happening. Every day, it seems as if there is a new device, app, or way of digitally communicating with one another. While technological advancement and evolving behaviors can be beneficial for society, they often pose legal problems. A relatively new act called “sexting” is one of the latest challenges that has been posed to lawmakers across the country, and both parents and children should be aware of the potential sex crime charges that could result from this type of activity.

What Is “Sexting?”

Sexting is a type of sexual behavior that occurs when two people consensually share explicit photos, videos, or messages through an electronic device. According to a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, around 27 percent of teenagers say that they have received such a text message, while 15 percent of teens admitted that they have sent such a message.

Sending, receiving, or possessing sexually explicit depictions of minors is illegal. But how are cases handled when those depictions are sent, received, or possessed by minors themselves? Often, cases like these are treated in a similar manner as other child pornography cases, and the person who was found in possession of the material is charged with a sex crime and required to register as a sex offender.

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Connecticut DUI attorney for chemical testsIn Connecticut, you may face charges of driving under the influence (DUI) if you operate a vehicle while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol or if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or higher. If you are arrested for DUI, you will be asked to perform a chemical test to determine your BAC, and this may be either a blood, breath, or urine test. Though chemical breath tests are most commonly used to determine BAC, other methods may be more accurate, and it is not unheard of to be asked to provide a blood sample.

Requirements for Using Chemical Tests as Evidence

The point of collecting a sample of a suspect’s blood, breath or urine is to have hard evidence of the amount of alcohol or drugs in the person’s system at the time of the arrest. This evidence may be used to demonstrate that a driver was intoxicated, but in order for the evidence to be admissible in Connecticut courts, there are six requirements that must be met:

  1. The defendant consented to the chemical test and was permitted to call an attorney before the test was administered;
  2. The results of the test were given to the defendant within 24 hours after the results were known;
  3. The test was administered according to regulations set forth by the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection;
  4. The device used for the test was checked to ensure its accuracy prior to the test;
  5. Another chemical test of the same type was conducted at least 30 minutes after the first test, or a chemical test of a different type was conducted at the direction of a police officer to check for a drug other than or in addition to alcohol; and
  6. Evidence shows that the test was started within two hours of the defendant’s operation of the vehicle.

Blood Test Requirements

In addition to specific requirements for any chemical test to be admissible, there are also certain rules and regulations that must be followed when performing a blood test to be used as evidence in court. Police officers are not permitted to draw blood from a defendant; for results to be admissible in court, blood must be drawn by a person who is licensed to practice medicine, a phlebotomist, a laboratory technician, an emergency medical technician, or a registered nurse. A sterile syringe and hypodermic needle must be used during the blood collection, and the defendant’s skin must not be cleaned using anything containing ethyl alcohol. The containers and equipment used for the collection must be able to preserve the integrity and suitability of the blood samples, and each container must be properly sealed and labeled immediately after collection.

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Hartford CT criminal defense lawyer bail reformFor the past couple of years, increased focus has been placed on the criminal justice system and making it more fair for everyone. One of the facets of the system that has received increased scrutiny lately is the bail and bond system. Proponents of change say the current bail system is unfairly biased in favor of wealthier individuals, since they have the ability to post bail or bond without issue. Because of this, a committee of Connecticut Superior Court judges has been considering whether or not to implement new rules and criteria for posting bond, which would make it easier for low-income individuals to remain outside of jail during their criminal trials. The committee recently voted unanimously to implement new rules for posting bond.

Low-Income Defendants are Permitted to Post Only a Percentage of Bond

A new rule was recently approved by the committee of Superior Court judges that would allow defendants who are considered to be low income to post 10 percent of their bond in cash, as long as the bond amount is $20,000 or less. This amount would then be returned to the defendant at the conclusion of the case. The committee stated that this new rule would allow low-income defendants to keep their money, rather than using a bail bondsman, who typically charges a 10 percent fee. The 10 percent cash bond would be given to the court or the police department in exchange for letting the defendant out of jail during the course of the case. The cash bond is a promise that the defendant will show up at future court proceedings; if the defendant skips out on future proceedings, the bond is forfeited, and the defendant will be responsible for paying the remaining 90 percent.

Opposition to the New Rule

In 2017, a law was passed that allowed defendants to post 10 percent of a bond that was less than $20,000 -- as long as a judge allowed it. Because of the requirement for judge approval, the 10 percent cash option was used in very few cases. Under the new rule, the 10 percent cash option will be more widely available. Opponents to the new rule say the state’s bond industry will lose around half of their business because of the changes. Bondsmen not only put up the amount needed, but they also ensure the person returns to court and will go looking for the defendant if they do try to skip out on court hearings.

A Connecticut Criminal Defense Attorney Can Answer Your Questions

If you have been charged with a crime, you know how much of a financial strain it can put on you and your family. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we can provide you with quality legal representation and help you understand your best options for defense against criminal charges. Let our skilled Hartford, CT criminal defense lawyer work with you to achieve a positive outcome. Call our office today at 860-290-8690 to schedule a free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.middletownpress.com/middletown/article/Bail-reform-would-help-poor-CT-defendants-hurt-13850682.php

https://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/20190618_superior_court_judges_change_bond_criteria/

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shutterstock_557897101Most people are familiar with the term “double jeopardy,” or they have probably at least heard of the concept. Protection against double jeopardy is written into the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that “no person shall...be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…” Basically, this provides U.S. citizens with protection against being tried more than once for the same crime. This issue typically arises when a person allegedly commits a criminal offense in more than one state or jurisdiction. Recently, the Supreme Court dealt with this issue by looking at whether or not those facing criminal charges could be tried for the same crime in both state and federal courts.

Recent Supreme Court Case Upholds Precedent

The case that made it to the Supreme Court dealt with a man who is currently a federal prison inmate. The Alabama man appealed to the Supreme Court after he was charged on both the state and federal level for possessing a gun after a previous felony robbery conviction. On the state level, he was sentenced to one year in prison. When tried for the same crime on the federal level, he was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison, a sentence that was to run concurrently with the other sentence.

The man appealed to courts until the case found its way to the Supreme Court. In a vote of 7 to 2, the Supreme Court voted to uphold the exception to the double jeopardy rule, citing the dual sovereignty doctrine. Only two justices opposed the ruling, stating that the exception should be reconsidered.

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