Compassionate Criminal Defense Attorney Serving the Fairfield County Area for Over 25 Years
Compassionate Criminal Defense Attorney Serving the Fairfield County Area for Over 25 Years
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police-line-1-300x225     Many of my clients are terrified for obvious reasons when they are contacted by the Police and then often try to “talk their way out” of the situation.  My objective in writing this blog post is to give some quick advice on what to do if you are the subject of a police investigation or a road side stop.   Often, the Police have no case they can prove against you, only suspicion and conjecture which is not going to make a case stick in Court.   They use manipulation, scare tactics and coercive methods to induce you to talk and give them admissions which will give them a solid case out of nothing.   DO NOT fall for this trick.    I am going to give you 3 easy to remember and simple rules to follow when dealing with the police that will help you avoid letting your own mouth seal the case against you.  After 27 years of criminal defense I can’t count how many times I have been contacted by someone who is the subject of a police investigation and after I told the police that my client would not cooperate that was the last thing we ever heard about that case.   The reason is because the police never had enough evidence to file for a warrant and were just hoping to bring my client in and get them to make an admission.

Rule #1 – I will not answer any questions.  I want to speak to my lawyer.

Always remember rule #1 – when ever you are confronted by the police no matter what they threaten you with always tell them you want to speak with a lawyer and that you refuse to answer any questions.  Of course you must give them your name and address and ID but that is the end of the conversation.  The 5th amendment provides that no person in a criminal case shall be complelled to be a witness against themselves.  This is a very powerful right.  USE IT!   You have the right to have a lawyer present before you answer any questions (of course we are not going to answer any questions when I get there either).   The police will normally get really stressed out and say stuff like “we can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way” when you assert the 5th amendment.  That’s right its going to be hard for the police because you are going to keep your mouth shut and not say anything until you speak with your lawyer first.   I don’t care if the police threaten to tow your car, raise your bond higher, go harder on you, take away your phone, etc. it does not matter.   No matter what they say do not answer any questions.  Just keep saying I want to speak to a lawyer.

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The Law with respect to family related, domestic violence issues. Book of law with a gavel and a Restraining Order.

As of January 1, 2019, Connecticut just passed a dramatic change in domestic violence enforcement which will have significant effects upon the rights and cases of people who get involved in domestic violence arrests.   The previous law required so called “dual arrests” which meant that Police were required by statute to arrest both or all parties in a domestic violence case if they found probable cause that they had committed a crime.   As probable cause is the lowest standard of proof in a criminal case this very often had the effect of victim’s of domestic violence being arrested after having called 911 for help when the attacker or abuser claimed that the victim “hit them first” or other similar allegations.  This resulted in a lot of needless cases filling our Courts and a lot of victims getting a bad taste in their mouths for calling the Police.

In some jurisdictions the rate of dual arrests is as high as 30% in domestic violence calls.

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I have been writing in my blogs and on my web page recently about the Local Police departments apparent resistance or push back against the Legislature’s efforts to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of Marijuana in 2011 and the lowering of the penalty of the possession of small quantities of cocaine and heroine from a felony to a misdemeanor in 2015.   As I have explained the Police has seemingly pushed back against these legislative initiatives by up-charging or adding charges under questionable circumstances such as the crime of operation of a drug factory  or possession with intent to sell.   In these cases the Police really tie your hands because they take what would have been a mere non criminal violation punishable by only a fine or a misdemeanor level possession offense and they turn it into a serious felony charge for which you can be facing up to 7 years in jail for marijuana and 15 years in jail for narcotics.

In many of these trumped up possession with intent to sell charges the allegations are simply totally without any basis in fact.  The bottom line is the drug dependent individuals who regularly consume drugs for their own personal use may carry a small scale to weigh the drugs they purchase to make sure that they are getting the correct amount they purchased.  Similarly, regular users normally buy their stash in larger quantities to last them a few days and them break it down into individual packages for daily use.  Regrettably, the local Police are going to take advantage of any of these situations to add the charge of possession with intent to sell when ever they can.

Man Charged with Possession with Intent to Sell for mere Possession of Non-Criminal Quantity of Marijuana 

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consitution-1-300x185I have had a lot of clients lately who have been arrested after getting involved in various disputes while they were legally carrying handguns. I do represent a lot of clients in weapons crimes cases but these were not weapons cases.  These were normal run of the mill breach of the peace or disorderly conduct cases that got escalated into much more serious charges due to the fact that the victim became aware that my client was carrying a weapon. No, they did not pull the handguns out and point them or brandish them at anyone.  However the fact that the alleged victim(s) were able to ascertain that they were in possession of a handgun was enough for the Police to add additional charges for reckless endangerment based upon the unfounded allegations that my clients were carrying a handgun and brandishing it in the middle of a altercation.

The law on open carry in Connecticut 

All pistol permit holders are entitled in Connecticut to either carry a handgun concealed or open carry.  In addition, you do not have to produce your pistol permit to a Police officer unless you want to if you are open carrying unless the officer has probable cause that a crime has been committed – such as the complaint of a citizen that you are openly carrying a handgun and that is resulting in disorderly conduct.   In 2017 The State Legislature debated a house measure which would have required that gun permit holders carrying a visible pistol or revolver to produce their carry permit at the request of a law enforcement officer.  That bill did not pass.

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20170616_162718_resized-225x300This week Governor Malloy for the third straight year signed into law legislation which he sponsored aimed at curbing the growing opioid crisis in Connecticut.   Although laws have been getting tougher on medical doctors and pharmacists in an attempt to stem the flow of new addicts getting hooked on prescription pain killers there seems to be a multitude of the population already hooked on these pills who responded to these new regulations and restrictions on obtaining their prescription pain pill fix by jumping to illegal opioids which have become more potent and less expensive.  Obviously, these legislative efforts and in addition all the arrests that Police are making on the streets are not working as the death rate is skyrocketing.  In 2012 there were approximately 250 drug overdose deaths in the State of Connecticut.  In 2017 despite all these efforts the death rate has increased 4 fold and we are on a track to break 1,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017.

The root cause of this phenomena is that the new legislation and pressure on doctors has made it more difficult for individuals who were hooked on prescription opioids such as oxycodone to get refills or maintain a supply through conventional means.   The price on the street for oxycodone has skyrocketed.  At the same time prices for heroine have decreased  dramatically and the purity has increased significantly.  These trends have combined to create a perfect storm wherein an entire generation of opioid users are shifting from abuse of prescription pills to use of illegally obtained heroin on the street.

A new Monster – Fentanyl

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consitution-1-300x185A recent New York Times article on July 31, 2017 “Prosecutors’ Dilemma: Will Conviction lead to ‘Life Sentence of Deportation’?” exposed the new phenomena in which many prosecuting authorities throughout the United States are taking into account the immigration status of defendants accused of crimes and often lowering charges and creating plea bargains to keep them out of trouble with ICE and avoid a unintended consequence of deportation as an outcome of the disposition of their criminal case.

This is known as a “immigration-consequences” policy in which the prosecuting authority will consider immigration ramifications of a resolution of a criminal case to work to avoid exposing the defendant to the possibility of deportation.  This kind of policy is employed in Seattle and in many jurisdictions throughout California and has been gaining in popularity in response to the Trump Administrations increasingly aggressive deportation of undocumented aliens who are convicted of even minor criminal offenses.

Pros 

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On July 1, 2017 the Legislature passed Public Act 17-31 (effective October 1, 2017) which had some significant changes for domestic violence laws in Connecticut.  The most interesting was the modification to the stalking statute to significantly relax the threshold for a criminal prosecution and at the same time expand the means by which stalking crimes could occur to include stalking by electronic communication and social media such as facebook, instagram, etc.

The old Stalking Statute – Under the old Connecticut stalking statutes in order to be found guilty of stalking you must have taken some overt conduct consisting or two or more acts, by which the actor either directly or through a 3rd person, “follows, lies in wait for, monitors, observes, surviels. threatens, harasses, communicates with or sends unwanted gifts to” the victim.   Also the the actor must have knowingly engaged in such conduct directed at the victim that would “cause a reasonable person to fear for such person’s physical safety.’

The new Stalking Statute 

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According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention there are about 25 incidents of domestic violence every minute in the United States.  While nationwide trends have shown that the rates of domestic violence have dropped significantly since their peak levels in the early 1980’s after many States including Connecticut began implementation of radical changes of how domestic violence Police investigations were handled and how the cases were prosecuted in Court.

In the early 1980’s Police often responded to domestic violence 911 calls in a “peace keeping” capacity.  They would come out to the home, calm everyone down and then leave without arresting anyone.  After the watershed 1983 case of Tracey Thurman in which she sued the Torrington Police Department alleging that they failed to protect her because she was a woman and a domestic violence victim. As a result of this break though litigation, the Connecticut Legislature responded with a sweeping series of radical changes to Connecticut law to protect domestic violence victims. These reforms included the requirement that Police make arrests when they respond to 911 calls if they find probable cause that a crime has occurred; the definition of family violence crimes as separate offenses; establishing a separate domestic violence docket and unit at each Court House to handle domestic violence matters and requiring that all domestic violence offenders be brought before the Court within 24 hours for an arraignment so the Court can issue orders of protection as needed to safeguard the victim.

1. MANDATORY ARREST LAW 

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Stamford-Police-Station-300x225A recent article in the New York Post described the story of a top executive at a billion dollar investment bank, Jordan Lupu, 42, co-head of global prime brokerage at BMO (Bank of Montreal) Capital Markets who was arrested for shoplifting $210 of  grocery items from a Whole Foods store in Manhattan.  I guess this story made headlines in New York tabloid media because so many people were shocked that multi millionaire with a $3,000,000 home in Manhattan and a $1,400,000 home in Westchester (a wealthy suburb of New York City) would risk everything to try and steal $210 worth of merchandise which he could clearly afford to pay for.

The alleged facts (according to the reporting of the New York Post)

Lupu was pushing a double stroller through the Whole Foods with his two minor children, while shopping he placed a total of 31 items valued at $210 underneath the stroller and then according to security officers at Whole Foods he then attempted to leave the store without paying for the items.

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Picking up today’s local newspaper I saw another high profile arrest of a New Canaan family who had hosted a High School graduation party in which an under aged teen guest had fallen backwards after drinking and sustained a head injury.  In this case the incident involved Jim Vos the CEO of a huge hedge fund advisory fund firm Aksia.  Vos was arrested after a party celebrating his daughter’s graduation from the ulta posh private school St. George’s in Newport Rhode Island where yearly tuition runs over $65,000.  Police responding to the injury report found extensive evidence of the consumption of alcohol by minors including empty beer and liquor bottles and “multiple areas on the patio and the lawn covered in vomit.”   One thing that Vos did properly in this incident was when the New Canaan police arrived to investigate he “remained uncooperative” telling the investigating police officers that he was going to refuse to answer any questions. This is always my advice for anyone under Police investigation.  Remain silent unless your lawyer is present.

This is the second case in which a teen was injured at an under aged drinking party in a New Canaan home this summer.  In both cases, the parents were arrested along with the children who had hosted the party.  What lessons can we learn from these  incidents and how can you protect yourself from being arrested or facing a civil lawsuit from a teen gathering at your home?

The Dilemma Facing Today’s Parents 

IN THE MEDIA