Posts tagged with "Danbury"

“Intention Was Not to Summon Help, but Rather to Escape Detention”: Appellate Court Upholds Evading Responsibility Conviction

In a recent criminal law matter, the Appellate Court of Connecticut considered a defendant’s sufficiency of the evidence claim following his conviction for evasion of responsibility in the operation of a motor vehicle (evading responsibility) in violation of Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) § 14-224(b).

This case arose from an incident that occurred shortly before midnight on March 5, 2005 near the Bethel-Danbury town line. The defendant was driving with two passengers when he lost control of his car, struck a telephone pole, and landed sideways on an embankment. All three safely exited the vehicle, and despite the close proximity of houses from which to seek help, the defendant and Passenger One ran into a nearby wooded area, leaving Passenger Two behind. Police responded to the scene, where they observed that the pole was “leaning dangerously low to the ground in such a way that the wires could be brought down by a passing vehicle.” In addition, they found Passenger Two, who was disoriented, bleeding, and in need of medical attention. Soon thereafter, the defendant and Passenger One were located at the latter’s house, which was located fairly nearby. Along their route were at least ten houses, but neither the defendant nor Passenger One stopped at any of these so they could contact the police or seek help. Neither sought help once they arrived at Passenger One’s residence.

The defendant was charged with two counts of evading responsibility: one for Passenger Two’s injuries, the other for the downed telephone pole. After subsequent conviction, the defendant appealed, arguing that he rendered assistance in compliance with CGS § 14-224(b), because Passenger Two’s injuries were only minor and he left the scene to get help. In addition, he argued that “[t]here was no assistance that [he] could have safely provided” with respect to the downed telephone pole.

To convict a criminal defendant of evading responsibility, the State must first prove: “(1) the defendant was operating a motor vehicle, (2) the defendant was knowingly involved in an accident and (3) the accident caused physical injury to any other person or damage to property.” When these threshold elements are established beyond a reasonable doubt, the State must establish one or more of the following: failure to (4) immediately stop and render necessary assistance; (5) provide identifying information with the person injured or owner of damaged property; or (6) if unable to satisfy (5), call police and leave such identifying information with them. In this case, the defendant did not contest the threshold inquiries, but argued that the State did not provide sufficient evidence, for both counts, the existence of the fourth element.

The Appellate Court was not persuaded by the defendant’s claims that he offered the requisite assistance prescribed in CGS § 14-224(b)(4). Passenger Two was clearly in need of medical attention, yet the defendant attempted to minimize the injuries. “A defendant cannot avoid his obligations under § 14-224 by engaging in post hoc speculation as to whether his assistance would have been necessary.” In addition, the Appellate Court found the defendant could have provided assistance regarding the downed telephone pole. At the very least, he could have called police or “alerted other motorists, who might have passed by, of the unsafe roadway condition from a position on the side of the road.” The trial court was free to reject the defendant’s arguments, and could have “reasonably inferred that the defendant’s intention was not to summon help, but rather to escape detection.” Therefore, the Appellate Court affirmed the judgment.

When faced with a charge of evading responsibility, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Court Finds Sufficient Evidence to Convict Where Inebriated Defendant Drove on Public Highways to Get to Private Road

In a recent criminal law matter, the Appellate Court of Connecticut considered whether the State provided insufficient evidence to support the defendant’s conviction for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence (OMVUI) in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227a.

This case arose from an incident that occurred on February 1, 2005. The defendant spent the late afternoon and evening with friends at various restaurants in Brookfield and Danbury, where she consumed alcoholic beverages. The manager at the third restaurant asked the defendant to leave because “she was being loud and vulgar and was annoying other patrons.” Around 7:30pm, the defendant drove her car to a nearby dead-end street and parked it in the middle of the road, obstructing traffic in both directions.

A resident called police because the car was still there an hour and fifteen minutes later. When the officer arrived, he saw that the motor was running with the taillights illuminated and radio on. The defendant was sound asleep in the driver’s seat, but with significant effort, the officer was able to wake her up. The defendant had bloodshot eyes, smelled of alcohol, and was quite disoriented. She quickly became uncooperative and would not obey the officer’s orders. The officer was unable to administer the field sobriety tests because of the defendant’s “combative and aggressive behavior.” At the police station, the defendant refused to submit to the breathalyzer test.

The defendant was charged with OMVUI, among other crimes. At trial, defense counsel argued that the defendant was only seen operating her car on the dead-end street, which was not a public highway under § 14-227a. The State countered that she traveled on two public highways to get to the dead-end street, thus satisfying this element. The defendant was convicted on all counts and appealed, arguing, in part, that there was insufficient evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that she committed OMVUI.

To convict a defendant of OMVUI, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he operated a motor vehicle on a public highway while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When a reviewing court adjudicates a sufficiency of the evidence claim, it construes the evidence so as to favor sustaining the verdict. It then determines whether, based on the facts and attendant inferences, a reasonable jury would have found that “the cumulative effect of the evidence established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” The jury is the “arbiter of credibility,” and it is not expected to leave common sense and knowledge “at the courtroom door.”

In this case, the Appellate Court found that a jury could reasonably conclude that the defendant was under the influence of the numerous alcoholic drinks she consumed before driving on various public highways to reach the dead-end street. The State met its burden of providing sufficient evidence satisfying the three elements of OMVUI, and after addressing an additional matter on appeal, the Appellate Court affirmed the judgment.

When faced with a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (a.k.a. driving under the influence) or license suspension, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Jury Instruction Relating to Defendant’s Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test Upheld by State Appellate Court

In a recent criminal law matter, the Appellate Court of Connecticut did not find that a trial court’s jury instruction on consciousness of guilt, as it related to a defendant’s refusal to submit to a breath test, was improper.

This case arose from an incident that occurred on August 7, 2005. The defendant and his friend spent approximately six hours fishing on Long Island Sound, during which the defendant drank four beers. Approximately an hour later, the defendant drove his friend to Danbury. While returning to his home in Norwalk, the defendant approached a well-marked construction zone that closed down one lane. The defendant swerved into this lane and crashed into a large orange sign, then continued toward the construction site. He nearly struck an off-duty Wilton police officer, who ordered the defendant into a nearby parking lot. The defendant was arrested after he failed multiple field sobriety tests administered by two officers, in conjunction with their observations of the smell of alcohol, glassy and glazed eyes, and disheveled clothing.

At the police station, the defendant was asked to submit to a breath test and advised of his right to counsel. He unsuccessfully attempted to contact an attorney, and then was asked once more to submit to the breath test. Because the defendant again insisted on speaking to an attorney, he was advised that his continued request would be deemed a refusal to take the test, but the defendant persisted. During trial, the judge instructed the jury that the defendant’s conduct may tend to show consciousness of guilt, and “if [the jury found] the defendant did refuse to submit to [the breath test, the jury] may make any reasonable inference that follows from that fact.” The defendant was convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence (OMVUI) in violation of State law. He appealed on multiple grounds, including, in part, the claim that the court improperly instructed the jury that refusing to submit to a breath test could be treated as evidence of consciousness of guilt.

When a court considers a charge of the court, it must determine “whether [the instruction] fairly presents the case to the jury in such a way that injustice is not done to either party.” The instructions are not dissected in a piecemeal fashion; rather, when the challenge to a jury instruction does not raise a constitutional question, the reviewing court will consider its total effect. General Statute § 14-227a, the State’s OMVUI law, includes a subsection that reads, “[T]he court shall instruct the jury as to any inference that may or may not be drawn from the defendant’s refusal to submit to a … breath … test.” In other words, the Connecticut legislature intended for courts to instruct juries on “permissive inferences.”

In this case, the Appellate Court reviewed the language of the jury instruction and determined it was “well within the parameters of § 14-227a.” The court repeatedly told the jury that consciousness of guilt was only a permissive inference; as such, the trial court did not abuse its discretion. The Appellate Court argued that even if the instruction was improper, the defendant failed to provide evidence that it was harmful. The Court noted the amount of evidence, other than the defendant’s refusal, that indicated he was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident.

When faced with a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (a.k.a. driving under the influence), an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Leading Divorce Law Firm in Fairfield County Connecticut: Maya Murphy

Maya Murphy’s Matrimonial Law Group consists of a dedicated team of lawyers committed to representing its clients through the most complex divorce proceedings. As a significant portion of our Matrimonial Law Group’s client base consists of high net worth individuals, we have experience dealing with the valuation and division of a variety of assets including businesses, residential and commercial real estate, high-end personal property, trusts, various retirement vehicles, as well as stocks, bonds and other securities. Our matrimonial lawyers also counsel the Firm’s clients through the formation and execution of pre-marital agreements, and often collaborate with our Trusts & Estates Group regarding issues involving trusts, testamentary instruments and estate planning. With attorneys licensed to practice in Connecticut and New York, we routinely handle cases originating in Fairfield County, Westchester County and New York City.

Our Matrimonial Law Group represents clients in dissolution and separation proceedings, custody and child support cases, as well as post-judgment custody and support modifications. Our matrimonial lawyers handle each and every case professionally and diligently. Though we aggressively litigate our more acrimonious cases when required, we always take into account the individual and unique needs, position and desires of each client, and recognize the importance of negotiating settlements when appropriate. Our matrimonial lawyers are well versed in the mediation process as well, and are often retained in a neutral capacity, providing our clients with an alternative to the traditional adversarial divorce model.

Maya Murphy’s Matrimonial Law Group is dedicated to providing its clients with high quality representation, including a thorough knowledge of the law, unsurpassed attention to detail, unwavering client support and constant preparedness. We understand that our clients are often in the worst situations they will ever personally encounter, and seek, at every turn, to alleviate their fears while protecting and advancing their interests in a court of law.

To discuss a case please contact Joseph C. Maya or H. Daniel Murphy at (203) 221-3100 in Connecticut or (212) 682-5700 in New York. Mr. Maya can be reached via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com and Mr. Murphy can be reached via e-mail at HDMurphy@Mayalaw.com.
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Our family law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best divorce attorneys and family attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut divorce or New York divorce today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce law attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free divorce consultation as well as free consultation on all other familial matters. Divorce in CT and divorce in NYC is difficult, but education is power. Call our family law office in CT today.

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Fairfield County Divorce Guidebook: A Roadmap to Matrimonial Law in Connecticut

The matrimonial law group at Maya Murphy PC has published a 66-page publication devoted exclusively to the subject of matrimonial law in Connecticut. Intended as a guide for divorcing spouses, the publication covers the major areas, concerns, and focal points of family law cases in our court system. Husbands and wives confronted with the difficult prospect of divorce are encouraged to read the guidebook in order to demystify the process and to enable them to better communicate with their attorney of choice.

The publication may be viewed by following this link: Fairfield County Divorce Guidebook.

Should you have any questions regarding family law representation in Fairfield County, Connecticut, or New York, please contact Attorney H. Daniel Murphy at the firm’s Westport office, at (203) 221-3100 or hdmurphy@mayalaw.com.

Copyright © 2012 · Maya Murphy, P.C.
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Our firm in Westport serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100 for a free consultation. Divorce is difficult, education is power. Call today.

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Though Defendant’s Statement Was Not A “Model of English Grammar and Spelling,” It Was Voluntarily Made

In a recent criminal law matter, the Appellate Court of Connecticut found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the defendant’s motion to suppress a written statement, claiming his Miranda waiver was not properly made.

This case arose from an incident that occurred on August 4, 2004 in Danbury, Connecticut. Following a roadway altercation, two victims were subject to a brutal beating inflicted by the defendant and his friends. One victim was repeatedly punched and kicked in the head, resulting in very significant head-related injuries, the need for an abdominal feeding tube for two months, and extensive physical, speech, and occupational therapy. The defendant was later apprehended in Rhode Island by federal authorities. En route to Connecticut, Danbury officers transporting the defendant stopped at a McDonald’s restaurant to get him food. There, the defendant wished to give a statement, which was taken after he was given his Miranda warnings and signed a waiver of rights form.

Prior to trial, the defendant moved to suppress his statement. He claimed that he drank roughly one gallon of Hennessy cognac with a codefendant twenty hours before being arrested. The defendant argued he was still intoxicated at the time he gave the written statement, so his waiver was not voluntary. To bolster his position, he cited the statement, “which was replete with typographical and grammatical errors, evincing that he merely wrote what the police instructed him to write.”

The State countered that due to the passage of time, the defendant was not under the influence at the time he gave his statement. One Danbury officer testified that the defendant did not appear as such at the McDonald’s, and that he had eaten two meals while in custody prior to giving the statement. The trial court denied the motion, agreeing with the State’s argument. It noted the defendant’s express interest in giving the statement and that he voluntarily signed the form, among other findings. In addition, the court stated that the statement was “clear and not reflective of someone who was under the influence of alcohol.” Though it was not a “model of English grammar and spelling,” the statement was comprehensible.

The defendant was subsequently convicted of assault in the first degree, conspiracy to commit assault in the first degree, and two counts assault in the first degree as an accessory. Post-sentencing he appealed, arguing in part that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the motion to suppress. The defendant reiterated his previous arguments that the statement was not voluntarily made.

A waiver of Miranda rights must be made voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently. It is the burden of the State to prove a valid waiver by the preponderance of the evidence, and a reviewing court will look at the totality of the circumstances to determine whether the waiver is valid. In this case, the Appellate Court determined that there was substantial evidence supporting the trial court’s findings that the statement was voluntary and the waiver valid. As such, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the defendant’s motion to suppress the written statement.

When faced with a charge of assault or conspiracy, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

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Jury Reasonably Concluded Threat of Force Was Made During Course of Robbery; Absence of Firearm Immaterial

In a recent criminal law matter, the Appellate Court of Connecticut rejected a defendant’s claims that the State provided insufficient evidence to convict her of robbery and conspiracy.

This case arose from an incident that occurred on February 29, 2004. A loss prevention supervisor at the J.C. Penney in Danbury observed the defendant and her friend taking a foot massager from the store without paying for it. He pursued them into the mall and requested that they return with him; both refused and claimed they purchased the item. The defendant then threatened that she would blow the supervisor’s brains out if he touched the friend, who was presently holding the massager. The friend dropped the item as they walked away.

The defendant was subsequently convicted on numerous counts, including robbery in the third degree and conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree. Following sentencing, she appealed and argued in part that there was insufficient evidence to convict. She claimed that the statement was not made for the purpose of retaining possession of the foot massager. The defendant further stated that at the time the threat was made, she made no action indicating she actually had a firearm in her possession.

Under Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-133, a person commits a robbery:

[W]hen, in the course of committing a larceny, he uses or threatens to use immediate use of physical force upon another person for the purpose of: (1) Preventing or overcoming resistance to the taking of the property or to the retention thereof immediately after the taking; or (2) compelling the owner of such property or another person to deliver up the property or to engage in other conduct which aids in the commission of the larceny.

A jury must consider whether the use or threatened use of force takes place “during the continuous sequence of events surrounding the taking or attempted taking.” If the jury answers in the affirmative, the use in question “is considered to be in the course of the robbery or attempted robbery within the meaning of the statute.” In this case, the Appellate Court determined that the jury had authority to conclude that the threat made by the defendant – blowing the supervisor’s brains out – was made “during the continuous sequence of events surrounding the taking of the foot massager.” Indeed, it was stated while the friend was holding onto the massager after they had only just left the store.

The Appellate Court rejected the defendant’s argument regarding the significance of an absent firearm. Third degree robbery requires mere physical force, while robbery in the first degree includes “[threatened] use of what he represents by his words or actions to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm.” In other words, the State need not prove that the defendant in question actually had a gun at the time he made the threat. Therefore, with respect to this aspect of the appeal, the Court agreed that the State provided sufficient evidence to convict on both counts.

When faced with a charge of larceny, burglary, conspiracy, or attempt, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

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Defendant Properly Convicted of Accessory to Criminal Impersonation Where She Asked Friend to Assume Her Identity at Court

In a recent criminal law matter, the Appellate Court of Connecticut upheld a defendant’s conviction for accessory to criminal impersonation, citing sufficient evidence for all of the essential elements.

This case arose from an incident that occurred on September 4, 2003. The defendant was caught attempting to steal a telephone and its components from Costco in Brookfield, and provided a false name upon her arrest. She was a bail bondsperson at Danbury courthouse and wished to conceal the arrest from her coworkers, so she enlisted the aid of a close friend to meet with defense counsel in her stead. The defendant arranged a meeting and provided the friend the misdemeanor summons as well as $300 to retain the attorney.

At the meeting with defense counsel, the friend identified herself as the defendant using the false name. She stated she was arrested for shoplifting, and provided her upcoming court date. Defense counsel filed an appearance in court and the case was continued, but while meeting with an assistant state’s attorney, defense counsel discovered the true identities of the defendant and her friend. Subsequently, the defendant was arrested for, charged with, and convicted of numerous crimes, including accessory to criminal impersonation. On appeal, the defendant argued, in part, that the friend providing defense counsel a false name “was insufficient evidence that she was impersonating a real person.”

Under Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-130(a), a person commits criminal impersonation if he or she “impersonates another and does an act in such assumed character with intent to obtain a benefit or to injure or defraud another.” Accessory to this crime requires that the State show that the defendant, acting under the above requisite intent, “solicited, requested, commanded, importuned, or intentionally aided another person… to engage in criminal impersonation.”

In this case, the Appellate Court agreed that there would be insufficient evidence of criminal impersonation if the friend only provided defense counsel with a false name. However, the friend went further than this: she provided information to defense counsel “such that she specifically identified herself as the defendant in this case, at the defendant’s request.” The friend was impersonating the defendant, a real person, and use of a false name was immaterial under the relevant statute.

The defendant additionally argued that she did not have the requisite intent to defraud, but the Appellate Court disagreed. The relevant intent may be to secure a benefit, or to injure or defraud another person – any one of these three aims satisfies the statute. In this case, the defendant would intended to benefit by concealing the arrest from her coworkers, and the possibility of avoiding prosecution altogether. Therefore, with respect to this aspect of the defendant’s appeal, the Court affirmed judgment.

When faced with a charge of larceny, burglary, conspiracy, or accessory, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

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