Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

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.

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.

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.

“The Police didn’t read me my rights!”

This is one of the most common comments Connecticut criminal lawyers hear from our clients who have been arrested by Police.  I hear this at least once a week.  So, I decided to write a blog about the topic so I can share it with my clients when they have this question.

My clients are really concerned because often the police never read them their Miranda rights. People think if the police did not read them their rights that means we can get the case against them tossed out.  The short answer is generally no but it depends on the specific circumstances of your case.  It is always best to consult with an experienced Stamford criminal attorney regarding your case, especially before you answer any police questions.

Domestic-Violence-new-Photo-300x200-300x200As we start the new year 2020 the top story of 2019 in domestic violence law has been the case of Jennifer Dulos.   I predict that the Dulos case is going to have profound and lasting effects on domestic violence cases in Connecticut for years to come.  On December 31, 2019 the lead story  in newspapers across the State reported that the term “Jennifer Dulos” was the number one most searched term in Google for the entire State of Connecticut in 2019 by a huge factor.  Simply put, the public is fascinated, outraged and shocked by the case and this kind of widespread attention is going to have a effect in the Judicial Branch on how domestic violence cases are handled.  I want my clients who have domestic violence cases pending in the local Courts to be aware of the Dulos case and what I call the “Dulos effect.” I made a companion video on YouTube which you can watch here.

>>     Brief Background of the Dulos Case 

Jennifer Dulos suddenly disappeared in May of 2019 from her home in New Canaan.  At the time she and her husband Fotis Dulos were embroiled in a highly contested and nasty divorce battle in Stamford Superior Court before Judge Heller.   Fotis Dulos has since been charged with tampering with evidence along with his girlfriend for driving to Hartford on the night of Jennifer’s disappearance and dumping garbage bags containing clothes with Jennifer’s blood on them in the garbage.  There are a lot of details about this case and I would encourage you to do a google search if you are interested in all the particulars.  For the purposes of this blog article all we need to focus on are the following important highlights:

consitution-1-300x185Over 28 years of practice in criminal law a lot of clients have told me that they don’t want to participate in a diversionary program because they “don’t want to admit guilt of a crime they didn’t do.” I’m writing this blog article to let people know that applying for a diversionary program is not an admission of guilt and does not mean that you are guilty.  In Connecticut there are a lot of diversionary programs for all sorts of things.  Over the years the main diversionary program – the Accelerated Rehabilitation Program has been joined by an ever expanding list of diversionary programs.  Top Connecticut criminal lawyers will tell you that in most cases it is usually a better idea to use a diversionary program than take your case to trial.  Over the years a lot of my clients have resisted the idea of participating in a diversioary program because they feel that applying for a program is an admission of guilt.  We are going to explore this in greater detail.

>    What is a Diversionary Program?          

The normal progression of a criminal case involves an arraignment, pre-trial negotiations, and a jury or bench trial where a determination of guilt or innocence is made.  This all assumes that a plea bargain is not made where the accused agrees to plead guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for a reduced charge or an favorable agreed upon disposition.  In practice 99% of criminal cases in Connecticut are resolved without trials either through diversionary programs or plea bargains. A diversionary program takes a crminal case off the trial path and diverts it into a special program that can result in a dismissal of all charges upon successuful completion of the program.  If you apply for a diversionary program you will never have a trial and no one will ever determine if the charges against you were valid or not.

police-line-1-300x225Everyone who gets a traffic ticket that does not require a court appearance in Connecticut is faced with the somewhat misleading language on the back of the ticket which states “If you are charged with a motor vehicle infraction or violation and you choose to pay the amount due to the Centralized Infractions Bureau, no points will be assessed against your operator’s license by the Connecticut Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.” This language is somewhat misleading as while the DMV may not impose points if you plead by mail or online the conviction will go on your permanent DMV driving history.  Most insurance companies regularly check the driving histories when it comes time to renew your auto instance policy and having a record for a moving violation can result in increased insurance rates.

Plead Guilty or (No Contest) to a Speeding or Traffic Ticket Can Increase your Insurance Rates and Lead to Administrative Sanctions 

No matter how tempting the offer of “no-points” sounds there are still consequences for pleading guilty or no contest.   The reason why is even though “no-points” will be assessed against you, the conviction will be noted on your permanent Connecticut driving history and insurance companies will be able to charge you increased premiums on the basis of your conviction for a moving violation for years to come. Obviously, the more violations you have the more the insurance company charges you through higher insurance premiums.

Stamford-Police-Station-300x225Recently Connecticut implemented an online ticket review program that allows you an opportunity to enter a not guilty plea to your traffic infraction and then apply to have a State’s Attorney review your case online. At first glance this seems like a great idea, it can save you a trip to Court and gives you an opportunity to give your side of the story. A lot of my clients are tempted to write in a big long explanation to the State’s Attorney without realizing that often what they are submitting is an admission of guilt and will not lead to the State’s Attorney dropping or nolling the charge. In fact, statistics show that since its inception the vast majority of cases submitted to the online review program have only resulted in offers of reduced fines and only a small fraction have resulted in offers to nolle or drop the case. Let’s drill down a little bit on how the program works and why I recommend that you should never use this new program.

How Does The Online Ticket Review Program Work?

The program is fairly simple and on its face makes perfect sense. The problem is that it is a program designed to help move the huge quantity of traffic ticket cases more efficiently for the State. When you plead not guilty to a traffic infraction or violation that does not require a Court appearance though the centralized infractions bureau you are automatically afforded an opportunity to participate in the online ticket review program. When you use the online program you can fill out an online dispute form and submit a written narrative explaining your side of the story and also upload any documents supporting your position. The State’s Attorney will review your submission along with the materials provided by the arresting police officer and then make an “offer” to resolve your case. In the vast majoriety of cases the offer be a reduction in the amount of the fine – not a reduction in the charge to a non-moving violation or a nolle or droppoing of the case.

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