Posts tagged with "investigation"

Sentence Imposed Following Voluntarily Plea Agreement in Larceny Case Was Proper, Modification Unwarranted

In a criminal law matter, the Sentence Review Division (Division) of the Superior Court of Connecticut declined to modify a petitioner’s sentence because it was neither inappropriate nor disproportionate.

Case Details

In this case, the petitioner had three minor children and received $48,300 over the course of three years from the Department of Social Services (DSS) to pay for daycare. However, a subsequent DSS investigation revealed that she instead gave the money to a friend, who could not have provided such services because she was otherwise employed.

The petitioner was charged with larceny in the first degree by defrauding a public community, which violated Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-122(a)(4). She accepted a plea agreement, but first had the opportunity to make restitution payments; she failed to do so. During the pre-sentencing investigation (PSI), the petitioner “minimized her larcenous conduct and suggested the DSS had failed to fully inform her about its rules regarding the use of the child care funds.” She was sentenced to ten years’ incarceration, execution suspended after four years, with five years of probation, and subsequently sought a reduction.

The Outcome of the Case

The Division is severely restricted regarding criminal sentence modification to instances where it is either inappropriate or disproportionate. In this case, it noted that the petitioner’s sentence was “within the parameters of an agreement that she accepted pursuant to her voluntarily plea of guilty.” In conjunction with the nature of her crime, PSI comments, and failure to make any restitution payments, the Division determined the sentence was proper, and affirmed.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport, CT office at 203-221-3100 or at

Teacher Placed on DCF’s Child Abuse and Neglect Registry

Case Background

Twelve-year-old Kyle G., while attending MicroSociety Magnet School in New Haven, Connecticut, was subjected to repeated harassment and bullying, amounting to child abuse and neglect.  However, Kyle’s bully was not another student, but rather his teacher Nicholas Frank.  The witnesses, Kyle’s classmates.

Mr. Frank subjected Kyle to constant ridicule in front of Kyle’s classmates, calling Kyle “cheeks,” “birthing mother,” and “fish out of water.” Mr. Frank even resorted to physical harassment, by pinching Kyle’s cheeks.  Mr. Frank limited Kyle to asking only ten (10) questions a day, and if Kyle went over, Kyle could choose his punishment: have his cheeks pinched or lunch detention.  As a result, Kyle became terrified in class, as he was afraid of how Mr. Frank was going to make fun of him next. Kyle’s grades started slipping from A’s to C’s. He had trouble sleeping and started wetting his bed.

Kyle’s mother became alarmed and reported her concerns to the school administrators. Upon learning of Mr. Frank’s actions, the school advised him to stop calling Kyle names, stop pinching his cheeks, and to minimize contact with Kyle.  When questioned, other students confirmed Kyle’s story. Students reported that Mr. Frank called Kyle “pregnant” due to his weight.  As a result of the investigation, Mr. Frank was suspended for eight days without pay.

The Charges

Connecticut Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) learned of the incident and charged Mr. Frank with emotional neglect. A hearing officer substantiated the finding, holding that Mr. Frank “subjected Kyle to ‘acts, statements, or threats’ that would have an adverse impact on Kyle, including referring to his facial appearance and his weight.” After substantiating the findings, DCF had a separate hearing as to whether Mr. Frank should be placed on DCF’s central registry of child abuse and neglect.

In deciding to place Mr. Frank on the central registry, the hearing officer determinate that Mr. Frank “in light of the attention given to anti-bullying in the school context, should have been aware of the implications of his statements. Kyle suffered an adverse emotional impact from the plaintiff’s [Mr. Frank’s] behavior as his grades dropped and his fear of school increased.” The hearing officer found that Mr. Frank had a pattern of abuse.

On Mr. Frank’s appeal of the DCF’s findings, the Superior Court rejected Mr. Frank’s arguments that the decision was not based on substantial evidence. The Court stated, “the court defers to the conclusion of the hearing officer who noted that teachers through the schools districts are on notice that poking fun at students is inappropriate behavior.”

By: Leigh H. Ryan, Esq.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of bullying or harassment, please contact a knowledgeable attorney.  At Maya Murphy, P.C., we have decades of experience dealing with Education Law, harassment or bullying, Special Education Law, and discrimination– often in situations where they run concurrently.  We handle all types of issues, in a broad geographic area, which includes Westport, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, and the entire Fairfield County area.

If you have any questions regarding bullying, or any education law matter, contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at

Because New Information Warranted Additional Investigation, Traffic Stop Was Not Unduly Prolonged

In a criminal law matter, the Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Fairfield at Bridgeport denied a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence which he argued, in part, was illegally obtained because the traffic stop was “unduly prolonged.”

Case Background

This case arose from an incident that occurred at 10:50pm on June 30, 2007. A police officer was on patrol when she observed a dark-colored sport utility vehicle (SUV) swerving and crossing over the double yellow lines in the opposite lane. Less than one minute later, the officer came upon a fresh accident and witnesses stated they were struck by a dark-colored SUV. Within five to ten minutes, the scene was secured and the officer radioed for assistance, describing the SUV and noting it may have front-end damage.

Approximately ten to fifteen minutes later, a sergeant on patrol spotted a dark-colored SUV a mile and a half from the accident scene. He conducted an investigatory stop of this vehicle, whose driver was later identified as the defendant. The sergeant quickly assessed the vehicle and found no damage, then approached the driver to explain the purpose of the stop, thank him for his cooperation, and inform him he was free to leave.

This followed standard procedure and lasted no more than one and a half minutes. During this conversation, the sergeant observed the defendant’s slurred speech and glassy eyes, as well as the smell of alcohol, and the defendant admitted he was drinking at a party. The sergeant radioed for the assistance of a specialized DUI unit, which promptly arrived, and three field sobriety tests were conducted.

Prolonged Investigation Stops

The defendant was arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence, which violated General Statutes § 14-227a. The defendant moved to suppress evidence, arguing, in part, that even if the stop was lawful, it was “unduly prolonged” because he should have been let go once the sergeant found that no damage was done to the defendant’s vehicle.

An officer may temporarily detain an individual for investigative purposes if he has a reasonable and articulable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot. The scope of an investigatory stop must be “carefully tailored to its underlying justification.” In addition, though it may be initially proper, the stop may become unconstitutional “if unduly prolonged or intrusive beyond what would be necessary to complete the investigation for which the stop was initiated.” To determine whether a stop was unduly prolonged, the reviewing court will consider whether officers “diligently pursued a means of investigation that was likely to confirm or dispel their suspicions.”

The Court’s Decision

In this case, the Superior Court determined that the officer’s actions did not unduly prolong the stop. If the sergeant had not made new observations that led him to suspect the driver was driving under the influence, the entire counter would have lasted less than ninety seconds. The sergeant acquired new suspicion, based on the smell of alcohol and the defendant’s slurred speech and glassy eyes, which justified an expanded scope of investigation to either confirm or dispel it.

The Court did not view the sergeant’s personal interaction with the defendant as improper, stating: “It is not intrusive or unreasonable for an officer to terminate a stop in the same manner in which it was initiated, by approaching the driver and engaging him or her in conversation.” Therefore, with respect to this aspect of the defendant’s motion to suppress, the court denied the motion.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

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

What Is the Purpose of Interrogatories?

Interrogatories are part of the discovery process.  This process is an investigation conducted by the parties and their attorneys into the facts of the case.  Interrogatories are an important method to conduct this discovery, as they are responses to questions made under oath that may be used at trial.  If a question asked in an interrogatory has already been asked in a deposition, you may not file a motion to quash.  The rules of litigation may be complicated as they are governed by the Connecticut Practice Book. 

If you have not already done so, you should consult a practicing attorney in Connecticut who is familiar with these rules and can assist you during litigation. If you have any questions related to the discovery process in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at