Posts tagged with "reversed"

Defendant’s Refusal to Provide Identification and Flight From Scene Constituted Interference With An Officer

In a recent criminal law matter, the Supreme Court of Connecticut reversed an Appellate Court’s conclusion that the State provided insufficient evidence that the defendant interfered with an officer in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-167a.

This case arose from an incident that occurred on June 22, 2003. The defendant’s brother was involved in an automobile accident in Bridgeport. As the defendant drove by, she operated her vehicle in an erratic manner and pulled into a nearby parking lot. Officers told the defendant they were issuing her an infraction ticket and repeatedly asked for her license, registration, and insurance. The defendant refused and began swearing at the officers, stating they would not stop her from bring her brother to the hospital.

Because the defendant was becoming loud and belligerent, officers decided to arrest her. However, the defendant’s mother was present and interrupted, stating her daughter did nothing wrong. With the officers’ attention drawn away, the defendant ran into the road, got into a vehicle, and drove away, despite orders not to leave the scene. The defendant’s mother spoke to the defendant via cell phone, who indicated she would return after bringing her brother to the hospital. However, the defendant did not return, so officers proceeded to the hospital, where they located and arrested her.

The defendant was charged with two counts of interfering with a peace officer, among other charges. One count involved her statements and refusal to provide identification when asked, and the second count was for leaving the scene despite an order to remain. Following conviction, the Appellate Court reversed, citing insufficient evidence to convict under either count. It reasoned that because another statute, § 14-217, specifically punished a driver’s refusal to provide identification to an officer upon request, the legislature must not have intended to punish such conduct under § 53a-167a because it was not expressly prohibited. The Appellate Court also found that the defendant did not “intentionally [seek] to delay the officer’s efforts to issue her an infraction” when she left the scene to bring her brother to the hospital.

On appeal, the State argued there was sufficient evidence to convict the defendant on the first count because she refused to provide identification. The Supreme Court agreed, citing a recent decision in which it ruled that “the legislature intended to prohibit any act which would amount to meddling in or hampering the activities of the police in the performance of their duties.” Because the statute was intentionally broad in scope, it was unreasonable to argue that § 53a-167a did not include the defendant’s refusal just because it was not listed. Therefore, it was improper for the Appellate Court to rule that there was insufficient evidence to support conviction.

The State also argued that there was sufficient evidence to convict the defendant under the second count because she left the scene against officer instructions to remain, and the Supreme Court agreed. The defendant knew officers were attempting to issue an infraction ticket; she refused to provide requested documents; when officers turned their attention to the other, she fled the scene; and officers specifically ordered her not to leave, which she ignored. As such, officers were unable to immediately effectuate an arrest. Based on this evidence, a jury could reasonably conclude that “the defendant intended to hinder and obstruct the police in the performance of their duties.” Therefore, the Appellate Court erred in its reversal, and the Supreme Court reversed the decision.

When faced with a charge of interfering with an officer, 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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Larceny Convictions Reversed Where State Provided Insufficient Evidence of Property’s Value

In a recent criminal law matter, the Appellate Court of Connecticut reversed a defendant’s larceny-related convictions, agreeing that the State did not provide sufficient evidence to convict.

This case first arose from an incident that occurred on January 26, 2004. Police responded to a Cumberland Farms store that was broken into. They located a hole cut into the roof, as well as the store safe partially broken into: $446 was taken from the bottom drawer, but the top drawer was undisturbed. In addition, an ATM with $7,500 showed signs of an unsuccessful break-in. Police found burglar’s tools, a piece of paper with the defendant’s shoe print on it, as well as knit caps and a bandana.

On February 29, 2004, police in a neighboring town responded to an alarm at a liquor store. When they arrived, they spotted a Nissan Altima speeding away. However, an officer permitted the vehicle to leave because his partner did not confirm whether or not a crime had been committed. An investigation revealed a tampered alarm box as well as a hole cut through the roof, burglar’s tools, and a red knit cap. The suspected burglary was immediately reported, and officers pursued the Nissan Altima, which crossed into Massachusetts. Nonetheless, the vehicle was stopped and four men, including the defendant, were brought to state police barracks. There, a Connecticut state trooper seized the men’s clothing, including the sneakers the defendant was wearing.

The defendant was subsequently arrested and faced numerous charges, including attempt to commit larceny in the first degree and conspiracy to commit larceny in the first degree. At trial, the State presented evidence showing the amounts of money within the ATM and bottom drawer of the safe, totaling $7,946. In addition, a Cumberland Farms employee testified that the top draw had “a fair amount” of money within. However, the State did not present evidence that this “fair amount” exceeded $2,054, or that any other potential source of money was accessible to the defendant. Nonetheless, the defendant was convicted following a jury trial and he appealed. He argued that the State presented insufficient evidence of the larceny charges because they did not prove that he “attempted to take, or conspired to take, property in excess of $10,000.” Therefore, he sought acquittal on these charges. The State countered that the proper course of action is conviction for second-degree larceny, which they argued was a lesser included offense.

Under Connecticut General Statute (CGS) § 53a-119, larceny is defined in the following manner: “A person commits larceny when, with the intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or a third person, he wrongfully takes, obtains, or withholds such property from an owner.” First-degree larceny is committed when the value of the property exceeds $10,000, while second-degree has a lower threshold value of $5,000. Conspiracy to commit larceny requires a showing of intent to deprive another’s property, plus wrongful conspired or attempted taking of such property. The Appellate Court of Connecticut has authority to simultaneously reverse convictions order entries of judgment for lesser-included offenses.

In this case, the Appellate Court was persuaded by the defendant’s sufficiency of the evidence claim. It disagreed with the State that the jury reasonably inferred that a “fair amount” of money located in the top drawer exceeded $2,054, thus bringing the total value to $10,000 as required for first-degree larceny. The Court further held that acquittal was the proper remedy. It explained, “Although it is true that there was evidence from which the jury might have concluded that the value of the property exceeded $5000, we do not know what evidence the jury accepted and what it rejected or how it reached the conclusion it did reach.” The Court would not speculate, and therefore reversed conviction on these counts with the direction to the lower court to enter findings of not guilty.

When faced with a charge of larceny or conspiracy to commit 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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Court Considers Whether Reckless Driving Conviction Was Proper Under Revised Charge

In “Whether Driver Intended to Hit Victim or Not, It Was Still an Accident Under Connecticut’s Evading Responsibility Statute,” we learned that the intent of the defendant was not relevant to the meaning of “accident” for purposes of the evading responsibility statute. Regardless of which story the jury chose to believe, there was sufficient evidence that the defendant unintentionally struck the victim with his car.

This article focuses on whether or not the defendant succeeded on his claim that the trial court erred in denying his post-conviction motion on the charge of reckless driving. For an individual to be convicted of reckless driving in violation of General Statutes § 14-222(a), the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant drove in a reckless manner on highways, roads, school properties, and parking areas. However, in its substitute information, the State charged the defendant with reckless driving on a municipal road. As a result, the judge specifically instructed the jury, “In order for you to find the defendant guilty of reckless driving, the state must prove that… the defendant operated a motor vehicle on a municipal road…”

During the trial, the State offered an aerial map of the city in which the accident occurred, but this map did not indicate “what entity owned or maintained the streets it depicted, or whether the streets are private or open to the public.” In addition, there was no information on the map that would assist the jury with inferring such facts. Additional officer testimony left in question who maintained the road on which the accident occurred.

On appeal, the defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence to convict him on the revised charge of reckless driving, and the Appellate Court agreed. “The record… does not contain any evidence from which the jury, without resorting to speculation and conjecture, could infer that [the one-way street] was a municipal road.” Therefore, the Court found the trial court improperly denied the defendant’s motion for a judgment of acquittal and reversed the reckless driving conviction.

When faced with a charge of evading responsibility or reckless driving, 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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