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

Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

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On April 17, 2020, Governor Lamont signed Executive Order 7BB which required the use of cloth face coverings in public when close contact is unavoidable starting April 20, 2020.  The order remains in effect as of this writing.  Anyone watching the news or venturing out into the public will note that the mask issue is highly divisive.  People are gathering in state capitals all over the nation to protest stay at home orders and similar mask restrictions.

There are been many violent confrontations in retail stores when shoppers attempted to enter without maks throughout the United States, including one case where a security guard was shot by someone who was not wearing a mask and who refused to leave.  The issue of having to wear a mask is a highly emotional and volatile issue.

People Should Wear a Mask to Protect Others 

Handcuffs-orange-GMB-geo-tagged--300x225Covid-19 has resulted in significant shifts in mobility.  People are working at home, bars and restaurants are closed and social gatherings are canceled for the time being.   Law enforcement has also focused on having minimal contact with the general public and prioritized important cases involving violence. As a result, traffic enforcement stops are down 95% and DUI arrests are also down significantly across the state. Domestic violence reports are up significantly as well as residential and commercial burglary and theft.

Although our courts remain closed, our office remains open and we are here to help you if you have any legal questions.   We expect that the criminal courts will reopen sometime in June although, perhaps using virtual technology if we are lucky.

Arrests for Violation of Public Health Emergency – C.G.S. § 19a-131a 

court-300x225As the criminal court closure has extended now for over 6 weeks, and with no end in sight many clients who have pending diversionary programs are being adversely impacted.  Given the tight job market, having a pending criminal case could make finding a new job more difficult or impossible.  Also, many clients may have to renew green cards or have other immigration situations which may be adversely affected. In this blog, I am going to give some guidance for what our clients and others can do about the situation.

Courts Have Been Closed Since March 20 

Connecticut criminal courts have been closed since March 20 with no firm date or plan to re-open the Courts yet confirmed. (Courts have been handling only arrangements).  Clients who have pending cases and are enrolled in diversionary programs which as the accelerated rehabilitation program, family violence education program, and pretrial alcohol education program and others may have already passed their originally assigned termination dates for these programs when the charges could have been dismissed.  Because the courts are closed there is no one to verify that you have successfully completed the requirements of the program and no judge to enter an order dismissing your charges.

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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