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

Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

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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:

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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.

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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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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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Lately, I have had a lot of really upset clients walking into my office who got caught up in relatively minor domestic violence matters in which no violence or physical injuries were reported, yet the clients were ordered by the Court to engage in fairly invasive “AIC” treatment for both anger management and substance abuse treatment.    These clients are really enraged that these “AIC” programs are interfering with their work, take place during the middle of the day and seem totally unnecessary.   It is a very common situation.  These last few weeks I have been drafting a lot of motions to terminate “AIC.”

It seems that the majority of domestic violence cases are now being referred for treatment during the pendency of the cases for therapy through “AIC.”  The purpose of this article is to examine what is the reason for these referrals to “AIC”; how they can actually help your case in some situations; and finally how your Stamford / Norwalk domestic violence crimes defense attorney can make a motion to modify the conditions of your release to get you out of “AIC” totally or perhaps  into a more accommodating program with a private therapist.

1. What is “AIC?” 

IN THE MEDIA