COVID-19: How We are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

We are facing a national and worldwide crisis.  Everyone has their own role to play in facing the challenges which we all must face to get through this crisis while trying to keep the loss of life at a minimum.  Make no mistake many lives will be lost and hundreds of people are dying every day.

Reckless Endangerment 

Recently, a man who was exposed to COVID-19 in Stamford left his place of self-quarantine and assaulted his girlfriend. By committing this act he placed his girlfriend, first responders, and court personnel at danger of contracting the virus.  The Stamford Police are considering charging the man with the crime of reckless endangerment.

We are seeing COVID-19 related domestic violence arrests from clients who are under a lot of stress and pressure and stuck at home in close quarters with each other. In this blog, I am going to examine this situation and give some suggestions on how to manage the problem.

COVID-19 is with us for the foreseeable future. It represents an existential threat to our health. It will likely lead to severe economic disruptions and perhaps the most significant financial crisis of our lifetimes. There is more than enough stress to go around. On top of this, people are getting fired and laid off from work left and right due to the orders to close down our state economies to slow down the transmission of the virus. There are a lot of changes here going on at once and a lot of worrying about external stress factors beyond our control. If you combine all of this stress with people being locked into their homes, it seems inevitable that tensions are going to rise to a boiling point.

Everyone is going through the same stressful situation. While you and your family members may have differing opinions about the level of social distancing needed to protect your family and other important matters, it is essential to resolve any disputes in a calm, peaceful and non-violent manner. If you feel like you are ready to explode because you can’t take the stress, I would suggest that you go out for a long walk and meditate about something else. Perhaps it will be a better time to discuss the issue the following day.

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In this blog, we are going to review five things that people should know about pretrial diversionary programs in Connecticut.

If you have been arrested for a serious motor vehicle offense or crime in Connecticut, one option is to plead not guilty and take your case to trial. Going to trial has many disadvantages as trials are very costly, and the results are never guaranteed no matter how strong a case you have. The other option is to accept a plea bargain, which many clients don’t want to do, especially if they are not guilty.

Diversionary programs are a way to resolve your case without going to trial and obtain a dismissal of the charges against you. In some situations, using a diversionary program is the ideal way to resolve your criminal charges. Diversionary programs are commonly used in Connecticut. We have a multitude of diversionary programs available for various circumstances. If you have been arrested for any crime or serious motor vehicle offense, you should consult with an experienced Connecticut criminal defense lawyer to review all of your options.

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A lot of clients think that a disorderly conduct arrest is not that serious.  In this blog, I am going to share five important things you should know if you have been arrested for disorderly conduct in Connecticut.

In Connecticut, disorderly conduct C.G.S. § 53a-182 is one of the most common arrests.   A lot of disorderly conduct arrests occur as a result of domestic violence cases because the police are required to make an arrest anytime someone calls 911 and they find probable cause that a crime has occurred.  Disorderly conduct is a catch-all statute that covers a wide range of behavior and gives the police officer a lot of discretion on when to apply the statute to make an arrest. Any arrest for domestic violence should be taken very seriously. While disorderly conduct is a relatively minor Class C misdemeanor a conviction can have serious ramifications for your future.

1. Even Though The Police Did Not Take You Down to the Police Station it is Still an “Arrest” 

Domestic-Violence-new-Photo-300x200-300x200In this blog, I am going to give you five things to do if you have been arrested for a domestic violence crime in Connecticut. Domestic violence arrests are more common than any other kind of arrest. This is because there is a mandatory arrest statute for all domestic violence crimes that require the police to make an arrest when they find probable cause that a domestic violence crime has occurred. There are a lot of very effective ways to defend domestic violence allegations. It is essential from the moment that you are arrested not to make the situation worse. Here are five things you can do to help improve your situation.

  1. Be Prepared For Your Next Day Arraignment in Court 

In every domestic violence case, there is a mandatory next day arrangement where orders of protection will issue against you. At this court date, you will have your first meeting with the office of family relations, and they will make a recommendation about the order of protection. The big question is what kind of order will be entered by the court. If you live in the same home with the victim or have minor children in common, these orders of protection can be of huge importance. It would be best if you never went into court without consulting with an attorney first. While sometimes it may be challenging to find an attorney on such short notice, you should at least have a consultation with an attorney and review your options for the arraignment. Too many domestic violence clients wind up getting arrested and then amble into court the next morning and hope for the best. This is not the best practice. It is advised that you seek legal counsel and prepare for your meeting with the office of family relations and arraignment.

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As everyone knows, for better or worse, the COVID-19 virus (coronavirus) is going to be a part of our lives for the foreseeable future. To help prevent hospital overcrowding and slow down the spread of the pandemic, our state and national government have implemented mandatory social distancing policies. The goal is to limit large gatherings of people where the virus can infect more people. By creating social distancing, society can slow down the spread of the virus.

Connecticut Judicial Branch COVID-19 Policy for March 

I am wiring to inform my existing criminal clients how the judicial branch order of March 12, 2020, is going to impact your pending criminal matters. I had previously written a blog about the danger that attending court posed for the spread of the virus. Hartford has taken swift action to protect the public.

I am writing to urge that our state close all Courts for non-essential matters to encourage “social distancing.”

A member of our legal profession from New Rochelle has been in critical care with this illness for ten days now. He infected all of the members of his family and others in his community. It is a serious illness.

The coronavirus crisis is just starting in the United States, and I believe that we all need to do our part to pitch in and slow down the spread of this pandemic. Defendants who have routine criminal cases pending are required by law to attend court dates. Criminal courts are filled with up to 120 defendants and their family members, all of whom must interact with the court marshalls at security checkpoints. All of these areas are potential points of infection. People who are mildly sick may feel compelled to attend the court, or they may face a re-arrest order and thus expose others to the risk of infection. These individuals may not realize that they can contact the Clerk and request a continuance or even realize that they should self-quarantine when they are ill.

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Everyone in Connecticut including the author is outraged about the death of Jennifer Dulos.  For those who may have been living under a rock for the last year, Jennifer was in the midst of a “high conflict” divorce case in Stamford Superior Court last May when she disappeared.  Her estranged husband Fotis Dulos was later charged with her murder and he committed suicide while awaiting trial on bond.  I have written extensively on how the Dulos case has had a profound effect on pending domestic violence cases throughout Connecticut.

The Dulos family had no prior arrest history and apparently there was nothing to give the court any reliable indication that a violent murder would occur.  As a result, other courts have become more cautious about resolving pending domestic violence cases.

We live in a reactionary society.  Jennifer Dulus was the number one most searched term on google in the state of Connecticut in 2019. The circus is just getting started with the trial of the co-conspirators of Fotis Dulos still looming this case will be in the spotlight of the media for months to come.  People are upset and outraged that the court system let Jennifer down and they are looking for someone to blame.   It’s strange that they can’t just accept the fact that the family court divorce system is overloaded and that a homicidal maniac like Fotis Dulos just happened to snap under the financial pressure he was facing.

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Everyone thinks that Fotis Dolus killed his estranged wife. After all, that is what the state alleges he did in the arrest warrant charging him with her murder.  Why even bother with the trial?  Let’s face it the crime he was accused of was so horrible and unthinkable no one wants to forgive him or even consider that he may somehow “get away with it” like OJ Simpson did.  Should the presumption of innocence be reduced when the allegations are particularly egregious?  Is everyone entitled to the same presumption of innocence?  Shouldn’t we have to wait until the time of trial to have a determination of guilt or innocence?

Before I get any further in this blog, I know that there are strong passions involved in this case and I don’t condone anyone who commits a violent act against anyone, particularly the mother of their children.  I am not writing to support Fotis Dulos or condone his actions.   I am writing to question what has happened to the presumption of innocence and if the general public really understands what that concept means?

The Presumption of Innocence 

Lady-Justice--e1581224208144-225x300I am writing this blog article for two reasons. First, there is tremendous interest in the Jennifer Dulos case and I wanted to provide some useful information about the case.  Secondly, I wanted to use this case as a teaching example about how the crime of conspiracy is a powerful tool that the state uses to get convictions in situations where the state would otherwise never have enough evidence to get a conviction for the actual crime.  Often the state can get a conviction for conspiracy to commit a crime where it lacks the evidence to prove who actually committed the crime. Conspiracy is a powerful weapon that the state can employ to crack cases and get convictions and get co-defendants to start to cooperate with the state.  The threat of conspiracy charges is often used to get suspects to talk to investigators and provide useful information.  Anyone who is a subject in a conspiracy investigation should retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney and refuse to answer any questions.

The Dulos Case 

Everyone knows that Fotis Dolus was charged with the murder of his estranged wife Jennifer Dulos.  Fotis Dulos committed suicide and we will never see him brought to trial.  Many people have commented on social media that this may prevent the prosecution of the co-conspirators.  This is not accurate.  The State does not need to have Fotis Dulos in order to prosecute and convict the co-conspirators.  In fact, if Fotis Dulos remained alive it would have been entirely possible for him to have been acquitted of the murder of Jennifer Dulos and the co-defendant’s to be convicted of conspiracy to commit her murder.  In this blog, we are going to have a brief discussion of the law of conspiracy and why conspiracy is often a much easier case for the state to prove than the crime itself.

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