Law Office of Douglas D. Rudolph

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Criminal Defense

The Law Office of Douglas D. Rudolph represents clients charged with felony and misdemeanor crimes.  Services include but are not limited to the following charges (click links to learn more about the charges under Connecticut law):

 


➤ dui/dwi

The law surrounding DUIs in Connecticut is surprisingly complex. Consequences involve both a criminal and civil component, which are separate from one another. This means that, for example, a person could still lose his/her license while the criminal charges are dismissed, or vice versa. The consequences of a criminal conviction, which are handled by Connecticut’s criminal courts, may include incarceration, probation, fines, chemical dependency treatment, and community service.  The civil (or administrative) consequences are intended to be immediate and are handled by Connecticut’s Department of Motor Vehicles, which include getting your license suspended or revoked.  In addition, a person’s vehicle may be forfeited upon arrest.  Importantly, a person may also be charged with a DUI for refusing to take a chemical test (e.g. breath, blood, or urine).

What are the criminal penalties for a DUI?

Criminal penalties for DWIs range in severity based on the number of factors, including a person’s prior DUI convictions, age, type of vehicle, and blood alcohol level.  A person who had been driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or more (.04 for commercial drivers) may be charged with a DWI.  Drivers under the age of 21 with blood alcohol concentrations of .02 are considered to be legally intoxicated, and may also be charged.  Additionally, a person may be charged with a DUI if he/she has been determined to be driving under the influence of a controlled substance (e.g. marijuana, heroin, cocaine, meth, etc.).

In general, criminal penalties are as follows:

First Conviction: 

  • Up to six months in jail (48 hours of which must be served in jail)
  • Fine between $500 and $1,000
  • Probation and up to 100 hours of community service

Second Conviction within 10 Years: 

  • Up to two years in prison (120 days of which must be served in prison)
  • Fine between $1,000 and $4,000
  • Probation, up to 100 hours of community service, and chemical dependency treatment may also be ordered by a judge

Third and Subsequent Convictions within 10 Years: 

  • Up to three years in prison (one year of which must be served in prison)
  • Fine between $2,000 and $8,000
  • Probation, up to 100 hours of community service, and chemical dependency treatment may be ordered by a judge

In addition, a person may be required to participate in an Alcohol Education Program and a Victim Impact Panel Program, in which victims of DWI offenses relate their experiences and the impact these crimes had on their lives. 

What are the civil penalties for a DUI?

Unlike criminal penalties, civil (or “Administrative Per Se” or “Implied Consent”) penalties are enforced by Connecticut’s Department of Motor Vehicles, not the criminal court system.  Connecticut law permits the Department to automatically take certain immediate administrative actions against drivers arrested for a DUI. This essentially includes suspending or revoking a person’s driver’s license.  The severity of civil penalties vary, depending on the number of prior impaired driving offenses, among other factors.  Under certain circumstances, a person may be eligible to drive to work or school if he/she has installed an Ignition Interlock Device in the car, which requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece before starting the vehicle.

In general, civil penalties are as follows:

First Arrest: 

  • 45 day license suspension
  • Followed by one year of driving only a vehicle with an Ignition Interlock Device
  • Upon arrest, vehicle impoundment for at least 48 hours

Second Arrest within 10 Years: 

  • 45 day license suspension
  • Followed by three years of driving only a vehicle with an Ignition Interlock Device (first year driving is restricted to work, school, probation, and ignition interlock service center)
  • Upon arrest, vehicle impoundment for at least 48 hours

Third and Subsequent Arrest within 10 Years: 

  • Permanent revocation of license
  • After two years from the date of revocation, a person may request a hearing for reconsideration to reinstate his/her license
  • Upon arrest, vehicle impoundment for at least 48 hours

To read the DWI statute, read Connecticut General Statute §14-227a(a)- (b) & (g). [back to top]


➤ drug crimes (possession or sale of controlled substances)

Connecticut classifies not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine as controlled substances, but also the compounds used to manufacture them. Possessing controlled substances for personal use carries different penalties than for the sale or manufacture of them. However, both possession and sale/manufacture convictions can incur heavy fines and long periods of incarceration, although recent amendments have made the law arguably less draconian than it once was. It’s important to note that possessing under a half ounce of marijuana or cannabis-like substance is not a crime, but is punishable by fines (and other penalties depending on the circumstances).

Penalties for drug crimes range in severity based on a number of factors, such as type of drug, amount, age, mental capacity, prior convictions, intended use (i.e. sell or consume), and whether the offense took place within 1500 feet of a school.  Recent changes to the law aim to differentiate between dealers and people with substance use disorder, assigning harsher penalties for the sale of drugs than for possession. The law recognizes addiction and the opioid epidemic has a public health issue, and aims to treat addiction like a medical issue as opposed to strictly a criminal matter.  Below are is the general framework for the criminal penalties involving the illegal possession/sale of drugs.

What are the penalties for the illegal possession of drugs?

  • 1st Offense — may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to one year and/or payment of a fine up to $2,000
  • 2nd Offense — the court will order an evaluation of the defendant, and if the court determines the defendant is a “drug dependent person”, prosecution may be suspended while the defendant undergoes substance use treatment
  • Any Subsequent Offense — For a second offense and beyond, if the defendant is determined not to be a “drug dependent person”, the court may deem the defendant to be persistent offender, which is a felony, and carries a sentence of imprisonment up to three years and/or payment of a fine up to $3,500

What are the penalties for the illegal sale of drugs?

  • 1st Offense (involving heroin, cocaine, and hallucinogenics other than marijuana) — may be sentenced to imprisonment up to 15 years and/or payment of a fine up to $50,000
  • 2nd Offense (involving ounce or more of heroin, half ounce or more of cocaine, and hallucinogenics other than marijuana) — may be sentenced to imprisonment up to 30 years and/or payment of a fine up to $100,000
  • 3rd and Subsequent Offenses (involving heroin, cocaine, and hallucinogenics other than marijuana) — may be sentenced to imprisonment up to 30 years and/or payment of a fine up to $250,000
  • 1st Offense (involving other controlled substances) — may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to seven years and/or payment of a fine up to $25,000
  • 2nd and Subsequent Offenses (involving other controlled substances) — may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 15 years and/or payment of a fine up to $100,000 [back to top]

➤ domestic violence/assault

Connecticut law generally defines assault, which includes domestic violence, as an intent to cause serious physical injury – with or without a weapon - to another person; or engaging in reckless behavior which causes harm to another person.  Criminal penalties for assault range in severity from 1st to 3th degree, which carry potential imprisonment sentences ranging from up to 20 years for felonies (and up to $15,000 in fines) to one year for misdemeanors (and up to $2,000 in fines). Related crimes include: strangulation, threatening, and reckless endangerment; the penalties and fines for which also vary based on severity. [back to top]


➤ larceny

Larceny is an umbrella term that essentially means “theft without physical force”, and is committed when a person “intends 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”.  In other words, a person may be charged with larceny regardless of whether he/she takes the property from another with force, unlike robbery. Larceny includes but is not limited to embezzlement, extortion, shoplifting, receiving stolen property, theft of services, among others. Depending on the value of stolen property, criminal penalties range from an imprisonment sentence of up to 20 years and/or a fine up to $15,000. [back to top]


➤ robbery

Unlike larceny, robbery occurs when a person uses the threat of immediate physical force to wrongfully take property from another.  However, robbery and larceny are similar in that when a person commits a robbery, he/she is also simultaneously committing a larceny, just with an added element: the threat of immediate physical force.  Criminal penalties for robbery range in severity from 1st to 3th degree, all of which are felonies, and carry potential imprisonment sentences ranging from up to 20 years for 1st degree offenses (and up to $15,000 in fines) to up to five years for 3rd degree offenses (and up to $5,000 in fines). [back to top]


➤ burglary

Unlike larceny and robbery, a burglary is committed when a person unlawfully enters or remains in another’s “dwelling” or a building with the “intent to commit a crime” while inside – not necessarily steal something.  Criminal penalties for burglary vary based on several factors, such as but not limited to: whether a weapon was used, whether someone other than the suspect was present in the dwelling at the time of the alleged crime, the severity of the alleged crime committed (or attempted) while inside the dwelling or building, and the time of day. Penalties range in severity from 1st to 3th degree, all of which are felonies, and carry potential imprisonment sentences ranging from up to 20 years for 1st degree offenses (and up to $15,000 in fines) to up to five years for 3rd degree offenses (and up to $5,000 in fines).  [back to top]


➤ prostitution

Under Connecticut law, prostitution is defined from the perspective of both the “prostitute” and the “patron”, and also from the perspective of a third party “advancing prostitution”. Prostitution charges may be brought for persons alleged to have exchanged “sexual conduct” for money. Criminal penalties can range from misdemeanor to felony-level offenses, and carry imprisonment sentences of up to 20 years and/or up to $15,000 in fines. [back to top]


➤ sexual assault

Sexual assault is committed when a person, generally, unlawfully compels another to engage in sexual intercourse or sexual contact. Criminal penalties for sexual assault vary based on several factors, such as but not limited to: the age of the alleged victim, whether a weapon or threat of violence was used, whether multiple suspects were engaged in the sexual act, whether “sexual intercourse” versus “sexual contact” allegedly occurred, and whether the suspect was in a perceived position of authority, among others. Penalties range in severity from 1st to 4th degree, and carry potential imprisonment sentences ranging from up to 50 years for 1st degree offenses (and up to $20,000 in fines) to up to five years for 4rd degree offenses (and up to $5,000 in fines). [back to top]


➤ criminal mischief

Criminal mischief occurs when a person intentionally or recklessly damages or destroys another’s private or public property.  Criminal penalties for criminal mischief vary based on several factors, such as but not limited to: the severity of damage caused in terms of dollar amount, whether the damaged property was privately owned or government owned, and the type of property damaged or destroyed (e.g. fire hydrant, car, telephone lines, bus seat), among others. Penalties range in severity from 1st to 4th degree, and carry potential imprisonment sentences ranging from up to five years for 1st degree offenses (and up to $5,000 in fines) to up to three months for 4th degree offenses (and up to $250 in fines). [back to top]


➤ disorderly conduct

Disorderly conduct comes in many forms under Connecticut law, including but not limited to fighting, threatening, trespassing, obstructing traffic, making unreasonable noise, and interfering with or annoying another person, and congregating “with other persons in a public place” and refusing “to comply with a reasonable official request or order to disperse”. As a Class C misdemeanor, the criminal penalty for disorderly conduct is a sentence of up to three months in jail and $500 in fines (or both). [back to top]


➤ weapons charges

Under Connecticut law, weapons charges may result from illegal possession, transfer, or use of weapons, which may endanger the safety of others.  Criminal penalties range in severity based on several factors, such as but not limited to: the type of weapon, whether the weapon was being used in the commission of a crime versus merely possessed, prior convictions of weapon charges, age of suspect, whether the firearm was loaded, among others. Penalties carry potential imprisonment sentences ranging from up to 10 years (and up to $10,000 in fines) to up to five years (and up to $5,000 in fines). [back to top]


➤ probation violations

Probation violations can occur in many ways under Connecticut law, including failing a drug test, not completing court-ordered treatment, not holding a job or complying with house arrest, being charged with another crime, or failing to stay in regular contact with the probation officer.

Once an alleged probation violation occurs, an arrest warrant is typically issued.  Upon arrest, the defendant is then arraigned, at which a judge may increase or decrease the bond for release.  At the arraignment, the date is set for the probation revocation hearing, which must occur within 120 days of the arraignment (unless the defendant waives this time frame).  The defendant is allowed an attorney at these hearings (and one can be appointed if you so choose).  The State’s burden on probation violation cases is to prove a violation by “preponderance of the evidence” (less than “beyond on a reasonable doubt”).

If the defendant admits to the violation or the State proves the defendant violated his/her probation, consequences may include continuing the sentence of probation, modifying or enlarging the conditions of probation, extending the period of probation, and/or revoking the sentence of probation or conditional discharge and ordering jail time. [back to top]


Note: Connecticut criminal laws are much more nuanced than presented here, which is why contacting an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney is important to fighting these charges.