Posts tagged with "inappropriate and disproportionate"

Assault Convict “A Danger to Society;” Sentence Modification Not Warranted

In a recent criminal law matter, the Sentence Revision Division of the Superior Court of Connecticut (Division) declined to modify a defendant’s lengthy sentence, as it was neither inappropriate nor disproportionate.

In this case, the petitioner was operating a car, with a sawed off shotgun in plain view, when a marked police cruiser initiated a valid traffic stop. Two foot patrol officers were nearby and provided backup, but the petitioner sped away to a nearby, confined property. As the petitioner attempted to escape the area, he “struck one of the officers on foot with the car [causing a serious physical injury] and drove it at the other without hitting him.”

The petitioner was subsequently arrested and charged with attempted assault in the first degree, assault on a peace officer, attempted assault on a peace officer, and possession of a sawed off shotgun. He was convicted on all counts and sentenced to a total effective sentence of forty years incarceration. The petitioner sought downward modification of his sentence, arguing it was inappropriate and disproportionate: “he claim[ed] that had no intent to hurt anyone, that he was raised in a crime ridden neighborhood and that he was under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident.”

In opposing modification, the State argued that the jury convicted the petitioner of assault in the first degree, which requires “the specific intent to do serious physical injury to the victim by use of a dangerous instrument.” It further pointed out that at the time of the incident, the petitioner was participating in a gang initiation, had multiple felony convictions as well as a limited work history, and had been involved with illegal drug activity since he was in his teens.

When the Division reviews a sentence, it is without authority to modify unless the sentence is “inappropriate or disproportionate” in light of such factors as the nature of the offense and the character of the offender. Taking into account the State’s arguments, the Division found no merit to the petitioner’s claim, and characterized him as “a danger to society.” Therefore, it affirmed the sentence as both appropriate and proportionate.

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’s “Dastardly Overall Scheme of Personal Greed” Did Not Warrant Sentence Modification

In a previous article, the petitioner was convicted of arson in the first degree, larceny in the first degree, insurance fraud, and conspiracy after burning down his home and receiving nearly $400,000 from insurance payouts. For his crimes, he was sentenced to a total effective sentence of thirteen years of incarceration (upwards up thirty-three years if he violated probation). Approximately one year after conviction, the petitioner sought downward modification of his sentence, claiming it was inappropriate and disproportionate.

In front of the Sentence Review Division (Division), counsel for the petitioner argued that his client was of good moral character. He highlighted the petitioner’s substantial consecutive work history and lack of a criminal history prior to this incident. Therefore, counsel stated that a ten-year sentence was proper. The State, however, objected to modification, noting “both the seriousness of the offense and the ample evidence to convict.” In addition, the State argued that emergency personnel could have been injured as a result of the fire intentionally set by the defendant.

Pursuant to the Connecticut Practice Book § 43-23 et seq., the Division has authority to modify sentences only upon a showing that they are:

[I]nappropriate or disproportionate in light of the nature of the offense, the character of the offender, the protection of the public interest and the deterrent, rehabilitative, isolative and denunciatory purposes for which the sentence was intended.

The court that originally sentenced the defendant characterized the defendant’s actions as a “two-part crime; the torching of the home and the bilking of the insurance company.” Such conduct was “part of a dastardly overall scheme of personal greed.” The Division credited the defendant’s fortune that no one was injured during this incident, but nonetheless agreed that the sentence was neither inappropriate nor disproportionate.

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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In Case Where Employee Abused Her Position to Embezzle Substantial Funds, Modification of Sentence Was Denied

In a recent criminal law matter, the Sentence Review Division (Division) of the Superior Court of Connecticut affirmed the sentence of a petitioner who stole money from her employer.

In this case, the petitioner had a criminal history involving embezzlement, larceny, forgery, and substance abuse. Despite knowledge of this past, the director of a non-profit organization hired the petitioner as its bookkeeper and office manager to give her a chance at an honest living. In this position, the petitioner had “unfettered access” to financial accounts belonging to the organization and director. Subsequently, various employees at the organization complained they were not being timely paid, and the director discovered not just an IRS tax lien on the organization’s assets, but a $20,000 unauthorized withdrawal from her personal account. Police investigated these financial irregularities and questioned the petitioner, and found that she had stolen at least $134,000.

At trial for larceny in the first degree, the defendant entered into a guilty plea. She asked that her sentence be fully suspended and she be allowed to participate in an alternative to incarceration plan, but the court instead imposed twelve years of incarceration. The petitioner sought downward modification, arguing that her sentence was inappropriate and disproportionate compared to those who committed similar crimes. She asserted that she “cooperated with the police investigation, [was] contrite, willing to make restitution and was employed at the time of sentencing.”

The State opposed modification due to the defendant’s history of committing similar crimes. It noted how the defendant embezzled funds from a former employer, for which she received a five-year suspended sentence, and then violated her probation. The organization’s director also objected, stating that the sentence was proper because the petitioner “abused her position of trust, is unrepentant, and has caused a great deal of suffering.” The Division declined to reduce the sentence, finding that under applicable statutes, it was neither inappropriate nor disproportionate. Indeed, the twelve-year sentence was within the parameters of the guilty plea, and the Division agreed with the trial court that “[i]t would stand justice on its head if I were to give you another suspended sentence after you already had one.”

When faced with a charge of larceny, 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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