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

Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

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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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.

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.

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.

We Have Many People Calling Us About Internet Arrest Articles 

Lately we have been receiving a large number of inquiries from people who have had their Stamford, Darien, Greenwich, Norwalk, Westport, Fairfield and New Canaan criminal cases dismissed but still are finding the old arrest articles are on the internet and causing them problems with job searches and ruining their reputation.   Yes we can help you to get these nasty articles removed and manage the situation.

Technology is constantly changing and the world of media is rapidly moving.  Just a few years ago most arrest reports were published in print in the so called “Police Blotter” section which only a few local people would read who are hungry for gossip and then they would throw away the newspaper and forget about it.   The problem is that with shifts in trends towards the internet and digital media the old fashioned newspaper is quickly becoming unprofitable.

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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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