Posts tagged with "jail"

Parental Consequences for Chronically Truant Schoolchildren

Recent studies[1]highlight the issue of chronic truancy in recent years: as one journalist quipped, “In order for young people to do better in school, it helps if they actually are in school.”[2]School districts are particularly divergent in how to reduce truancy rates. Some have elected to give away gift cards (Dallas, Cincinatti), iPads (DeSoto, Texas), major league baseball tickets (Kansas City, Houston), and even cars (Dallas-Fort Worth area).[3]Other school districts, however, seek to hit parents and students where it really hurts: their wallets and through court involvement.

Punishments for Chronic Truancy

One of my previous posts highlighted the prevalence of chronic truancy in the New Britain public school system. The newly-hired superintendent of schools, Kelt Cooper, has proposed “monetary penalties to get the job [of ending high truancy rates] done. A plan to fine students to the tune of $75 per skipped school day is now being considered by New Britain council members.”[4]This practice is used both nationwide, such as in Los Angeles ($20 per offense)[5]and the State of Ohio (up to $500, seventy hours community service, or both).[6]

One school district had such a severe fine – $300 per violation – which led to $27,000 owed by one parent alone (and $17,000 by his child), prompting a federal lawsuit.[7]Other school districts have implemented even more drastic measures. One California mother was recently sentenced to 180 days in jail, after repeated warnings from the school district about her children’s combined absence rate in excess of 10% of the school year.[8]Earlier this year, a Texas honor roll student “spent 24 hours in jail… for missing too much school.”[9]

Parental Obligation in Connecticut

In Connecticut, parents have the legal obligation to make sure that their children either attend a public school or receive comparable instruction elsewhere. In addition, it is the parent’s responsibility “to contact the school office when their child is absent from school and provide a reason for the absence if they want the absence to be excused.”[10]

However, once a child is identified as being truant, the school district will attempt to meet with the parent to determine the cause of the truancy. However, if the parent either fails to attend this meeting or is otherwise uncooperative, the school district has the statutory authority to seek Superior Court involvement and refer the family as one with service needs.[11]In addition, the school district may impose a $25 fine for each school day missed by the student.[12]

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Taking an active role in ensuring your child’s regular school attendance is not only required by law, but also necessary to maximize your child’s educational and occupational opportunities. If you have any questions regarding truancy, school discipline, or other education law matters, it is imperative that you seek counsel with an experienced school law practitioner. Please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at Maya Murphy, P.C.’s Westport office located in Fairfield County at (203) 221-3100 or at


[1]See, e.g., “New Britain Schools Targeting Kindergarten Truants,” by the Associated Press. September 10, 2012:,0,6088612.story; and “‘Chronically Absent’ Students Skew School Data, Study Finds, Citing Parents’ Role,” by Richard Pérez-Peña. May 17, 2012:

[2]“Should Kids Be Fined If They Skip School?” by Brad Tuttle. August 23, 2012:

[3]“Students Snag Free Sneakers, iPads, Gift Cards, Cars – Just for Showing Up at School,” by Brad Tuttle. August 20, 2012:

[4]See Footnote 2.

[5]“Los Angeles ends big fines, limits enforcement of truancy law,” by Susan Ferriss. February 22, 2012:

[6]“Parents Must Take Responsibility for Truant Students” Q&A, by the Ohio State Bar Association. [7]“PA School District Sued Over Truancy Fines,” by Marc Levy. January 20, 2011:,0,4679930.story

[8]“California mom Lorraine Cuevas gets 180 days in jail for not sending kids to school,” by Michael Walsh. October 3, 2012:

[9]“Texas honor student thrown in jail for missing school,” by the New York Daily News. May 26, 2012:

[11]Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-149(a).

[12]Connecticut General Statutes § 10-185.

Attorney Did Not Ineffectively Represent Her Non-Citizen Client, Despite Failing to Seek Plea Agreement That Would Avoid Deportation

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

In a criminal law matter, a Superior Court of Connecticut denied a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, because the petitioner’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were unpersuasive.

Case Background

In this case, the petitioner, a legal resident of the U.S., was charged with larceny in the first degree and possession of narcotics. Trial counsel discussed the possibility of participation in the Connecticut Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (CADAC) program, which upon successful completion would result both in dropped charges and avoiding deportation. However, the petitioner did not want to undergo drug addiction treatment, so this option was not pursued.

Defendant Unable to Escape Deportation

Trial counsel was extremely knowledgeable about the immigration consequences of non-citizen defendant convictions. As such, she made it a part of her regular practice to thoroughly discuss such with her clients. The State presented the petitioner with a plea agreement that would result in no jail time.

While trial counsel told her client that the deal was good for that reason, because of the petitioner’s legal status and the nature of the charges, accepting the plea would subject the defendant to mandatory deportation. She did not attempt to provide an alternative agreement or counteroffer that would avoid deportation, nor did she discuss such possibilities with the petitioner. Thus, the petitioner accepted the State’s terms, and during the plea canvass, he responded that he understood the possible immigration consequences of the plea.

The petitioner was given a suspended sentence, but violated his probation with another drug offense. New defense counsel unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate terms that would avoid deportation, and the petitioner came to the attention of immigration authorities once he was incarcerated. He filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus claiming ineffective assistance of trial counsel because counsel did not properly investigate the petitioner’s legal status and risk of deportation; he was not properly advised regarding the risk of deportation; and counsel did not include his immigration status and deportation risk as part of the plea bargaining process.

The Court’s Verdict

When a court considers an ineffective assistance claim, it applies a two-part test from Strickland v. Washington: deficient performance and prejudice to the outcome of the case. A habeas petition can be denied on either ground. In this case, the Superior Court did not believe that trial counsel’s conduct was deficient. It credited the extent of her background and training in immigration matters, and found that she properly advised her client on the consequences of accepting the plea agreement.

The Court further noted the petitioner’s unwillingness to participate in the CADAC program, which “demonstrates that the petitioner was not concerned with the possible immigration consequences of his situation.” Further evidence of the petitioner’s understanding is found in the plea canvass, where the trial court specifically asked whether he knew the consequences of pleading guilty, to which he responded “yes.” Finally, that trial counsel did not present an alternative plea or counteroffer is not a duty imposed on attorneys in this State in the context of ineffective assistance of counsel. Therefore, the Superior Court denied the habeas petition.

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

Sentence Imposed was “Fully Merited, Appropriate, and Proportionate,” Division Denies Modification

In a recent criminal law matter, the Sentencing Review Division (Division) of the Superior Court of Connecticut declined to reduce the sentence of a petitioner because the sentence was not inappropriate or disproportionate.

This case arose from an incident that occurred on June 27, 2007. The victim was arriving at her home when she saw the petitioner, who she did not know, run out of her house and promptly drive away. Police located the petitioner, but he would not stop and led them on a high-speed chase before escaping. However, he was tracked down and arrested the next day.

The petitioner was charged and convicted, following a jury trial, of the following counts:

  1. Burglary (Third Degree): maximum of five years of incarceration. If Persistent Serious Felony Offender, then maximum of ten years of incarceration.
  2. Criminal Mischief (Third Degree): maximum of six months in jail.
  3. Engaging Police in Pursuit: maximum one year in jail.
  4. Evading Responsibility: minimum of one year in jail, maximum of five years of incarceration.
  5. Reckless Driving: maximum of thirty days in jail.

Because of his lengthy criminal record and lack of remorse or acceptance of responsibility, the petitioner was sentenced to a total of twelve years of incarceration. He sought a reduced sentence, arguing that he should “not be penalized for exercising his right to a jury trial” and that he deserved a credit for admitting to being a Persistent Serious Felony Offender.

The Division is very limited statutorily in their modification authority to sentences that are “inappropriate” or “disproportionate.” Upon review of this case, the Division believed that the trial court imposed a proper sentence, and noted that there was nothing in the record indicating the petitioner was penalized for going to trial. Rather, “[t]he sentence imposed is fully merited, appropriate and proportionate.” Therefore, the sentence was affirmed.

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

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.