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The perpetration of violent crimes in Connecticut falls below the national rate (2.81 v. 4.0 per 1,000 residents), and an aggregator of crime statistics has listed ten Connecticut towns in the top 100 safest cities in the United States. Despite these statistics, violent crimes such as assault, homicide, and robbery frequently occur and typically constitute felonies that carry lengthy prison sentences in the event of conviction. Therefore, it is all the more important to obtain counsel who has experience and know-how to provide an effective legal defense against the charges faced. The criminal defense attorneys at Maya Murphy will protect your rights and seek a reduction or dismissal of these serious charges against you. Please do not hesitate to call our office at 203-221-3100 today to schedule a consultation. With violent crimes, your livelihood is at stake.
Generally, an assault is committed when a victim is placed in apprehension of violence, whereas a battery involves physical contact. Connecticut assault statutes are unique in that they instead require the intentional cause of serious physical injury to another person. Meanwhile, the threatening is a crime that assumes the traditional definition of assault and involves fear of imminent serious physical injury.
The degree of assault charged widely varies, as with other crimes, based on the circumstances surrounding its commission. For example, if the injury is caused by the use of a deadly weapon or discharged firearm, the defendant will face assault in the first degree. There are also specific statutes that impose non-suspendable portions of the sentence where the victim is elderly, blind, disabled, pregnant, or mentally retarded.
At its most basic level, homicide occurs when one person kills another. It is the attendant circumstances of the killing that dictate which homicide crime will be charged by prosecutors:
- Murder: The person simply intended to cause the death.
- Capital Felony: This is murder “plus more.” It involves special circumstances specifically listed in the statute, such as the victim was one of the enumerated State officials or employees, or under the age of sixteen (16); or the killing involved murder for hire, or took place during a kidnapping or first-degree sexual assault.
- Felony Murder: This is a murder that occurs during the commission of specified felonies: burglary, escape, kidnapping, robbery, and sexual assault (several to varying degrees).
- Arson Murder: Simply put, this is a death that occurs during the commission of arson.
- Manslaughter: This occurs when an individual intends to cause serious physical injury to another person, but death results nonetheless. Our statutes enumerate several manslaughter crimes, which are based on whether the conduct created a “grave risk of death to another person” or was reckless; if the individual suffered from extreme emotional disturbance, or was operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol; or if the individual uses, threatens to use, displays, or implies possession of a firearm.
Criminal defendants may assert defenses to these crimes. For example, a person charged with felony murder may assert that he or she was not armed, did not intend for death to occur, and had no reasonable ground to believe that other participants were armed and intended to engage in behavior that would likely result in death or serious physical injury
At its roots, the act of kidnapping involves an individual abducting another person against his or her will. It occurs either confining the victim to a secret location where discovery is unlikely, or using or threatening to use physical force or intimidation. The more serious charge of first-degree will be pursued if any of the following circumstances is present:
- The defendant intends to compel a third party to pay a ransom or engage or refrain from engaging in specific conduct.
- The defendant restrains the victim with the intent to cause physical injury to or sexually abuse the victim, perpetrate a felony, terrorize the victim or a third party, or interfere with the daily performance of government functions.
- There is a less serious offense called unlawful restraint, in which an individual restricts the victim’s movements so as to interfere substantially with his or her liberty.
If, while committing a larceny, an individual uses or threatens to use physical force to either prevent resistance against the taking of property or compel its owner to deliver it, he or she has committed a robbery. When prosecutors weigh what charge to bring, they will consider serious physical injury to a nonparticipant, the actual or implied presence of a deadly weapon, dangerous instrument, or firearm, and whether the individual received aid from another present person. In the context of first-degree robbery, a defendant may assert, as an affirmative defense, that the purported firearm was not actually a weapon capable of discharging a shot.
Sexual Assault and Other Sex Crimes
Sexual assault essentially involves an individual compelling another into committing a sexual act (including intercourse) by using or threatening to use force, resulting in fear of physical injury. Connecticut’s sexual assault laws are particularly comprehensive. For example, they consider several factors, including: the various characteristics of the victim and defendant; whether the defendant was aided by other individuals or used a deadly weapon or firearm; and whether the victim was stalked or kidnapped prior to the assault.
Interestingly, Connecticut also has a law prohibiting sexual assault in spousal or cohabiting relationships. Historically, many jurisdictions did not address the concept of spousal assault in domestic violence matters, including forced sexual intercourse. Our State legislature has recognized the need for prohibiting conduct that would otherwise constitute sexual assault but for the particular status of the parties involved.
If you are in need of experienced and aggressive criminal defense, contact us at the law offices of Maya Murphy. We have three regional offices in New York City and Westport, serving both New York State and Connecticut State clients.