As an experienced Westport criminal defense lawyer, I know how confusing and frightening being arrested and charged can be. I am here to help walk you through the process and help you evaluate all of your options.
Please contact me today for a free consultation with an experienced Westport criminal defense lawyer before making any statements to the prosecution, or making any deal. If you don't, you'll never know if you got a fair offer, or if your case really should have been dismissed on legal, constitutional, or procedural grounds.
Please remember, once you make a deal – that's it. It's over. You can't go back if you decide you didn't make the right decision.
I Fight Westport Criminal Charges
Any Westport criminal charge can be serious. Felony offenses frequently have mandatory jail time attached if you are convicted. Even misdemeanor offenses can carry jail time, driver's license suspensions, and will have other costly and difficult restrictions on your life and your future.
I have successfully represented people facing a wide variety of criminal charges. Some of the charges I defend include:
- Drug Possession Charges – Possession of marijuana, heroin, cocaine, meth, amphetamines, ecstasy/MMDA, GHB, LSD, mushrooms, prescription drugs, steroids, and any other narcotic or controlled substance
- Serious Drug Offenses – Distribution, sale, manufacture, cultivation, trafficking, and school zone violations
- Traffic Crimes – DUI, Suspended license violations, moving violations, careless/reckless driving, leaving the scene of property damage or injury, operating without insurance
- Violent Crimes – Assault, murder, manslaughter
- Sexual Crimes – Rape, statutory rape, sexual assault, child sex crimes and abuse, public indecency and patronizing a prostitute.
- Property Crimes – Theft, shoplifting, larceny, criminal mischief, arson, burglary
- Family Crimes – Domestic violence, domestic abuse, restraining order and protective order violations
- White Collar Crimes – Embezzlement, bad checks, credit card theft, computer crimes, fraud, conspiracy, identity theft
- Weapons Charges – Illegal possession of a weapon, unlawful discharge of a firearm, commission of a felony with a gun
- Juvenile Crimes – Any crime committed by a minor is handled in juvenile court, where the rules of criminal procedure can be quite different.
- And More – Breach of peace, disorderly conduct, harassment, stalking, threatening, trespass, outstanding warrants (failure to appear in court) and many other offenses that are considered criminal charges under Connecticut laws.
Penalties for Criminal Charges in Westport
Westport, CT Felonies
Felony charges are those that have a minimum jail sentence if found guilty, typically a year or more.
|CAPITAL FELONY||Specific types of Murder||Life in prison||N/A|
|CLASS A FELONY (MURDER)||Murder||25 to 60 years in prison||Up to $20,000|
|CLASS A FELONY||Aggravated Sexual Assault under 16, Sexual Assault w/younger victims, Kidnapping 1st degree, Arson 1st degree||10 to 25 years in prison||Up to $20,000|
|CLASS B FELONY||Manslaughter 1st degree, Assault 1st degree, Sexual Assault, Larceny 1st degree||1 to 20 years in prison||Up to $15,000|
|CLASS C FELONY||Manslaughter 2nd degree, Sexual Assault 2nd degree, Robbery 2nd degree, Arson 3rd degree||1 to 10 years in prison||Up to $10,000|
|CLASS D FELONY||Assault 2nd degree, Sexual Assault 3rd degree, Criminal Mischief 1st degree, Stalking 1st degree||1 to 5 years in prison||Up to $5,000|
Under Connecticut law, misdemeanor charges are less serious than felonies and have a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail.
|CLASS A MISDEMEANOR||Assault 3rd degree, Threatening 2nd degree, Sexual Assault 4th Degree, Criminal Trespass 1st degree, Larceny 4th degree, Violation of a protective order||Up to 1 year in jail||Up to $2,000|
|CLASS B MISDEMEANOR||Criminal Mischief 3rd degree, Stalking 3rd degree, Breach of Peace||Up to 6 months in jail||Up to $1,000|
|CLASS C MISDEMEANOR||Criminal Mischief 4th degree, Disorderly Conduct, Larceny 6th degree||Up to 3 months in jail||Up to $500|
Violations and Infractions in Westport
Violations and Infractions are not crimes, they are civil penalties, so they do not give you a criminal record. A violation is punishable by a maximum fine of $500, and some specific violations have lesser maximum fines.
An infraction has a fine of up to $90, plus additional fees and surcharges that may go as high as $300.
Typical violations and infraction are motor vehicle offenses such as traffic tickets, speeding tickets, possession of alcohol by a minor, and various city ordinances.
You do not need to make a court appearance for either a violation or an infraction. You can choose to pay your fine by mail, but I do not recommend.
Reference: Connecticut Traffic Infractions FAQ.
Additional Penalties and Collateral Consequences
Many professional licensing boards have standards that prohibit anyone with a criminal record or civil infraction from being admitted or certified.
And now that all criminal convictions in Westport are posted online publicly, your criminal record could easily become a scarlet letter that haunts you forever.
How a Skilled Westport Criminal Defense Attorney Can Make a Difference for You
When facing criminal charges, you are up against law enforcement agencies and prosecutors' offices with decades of experience with criminal prosecution. They are trained to catch any slip-ups or incriminating statements you might make. Having a skilled criminal defense attorney to help you fight the charges you are facing can mean the difference between years in prison and no prison time at all.
The police may tell you that things will be better if you answer their questions, but this is rarely true, even if you are innocent. Exercise your right to remain silent until you have an attorney. Your lawyer can prevent you from saying anything that may damage your case.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can also explain the risks of taking your case to trial. If you choose to plead guilty, a criminal defense attorney will vigorously negotiate on your behalf to obtain a favorable plea deal. And if you decide to plead not guilty, a criminal defense attorney will put the state's case to the test and make the state prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Common Problems with Westport Criminal Cases
Just because the police have collected evidence doesn't mean you will automatically be proven guilty at trial. In many cases, there are problems with the state's evidence that make it inadmissible at trial. Without evidence to prove each element of your charges beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecutor or trial court may end up dismissing your case.
Some examples of the problems I see in criminal cases include:
- Lack of reasonable suspicion or probable cause to detain/arrest – In some cases, the police may stop a suspect, but the circumstances did not support reasonable suspicion or probable cause for the stop. The police may also arrest someone based on an uncorroborated anonymous tip.
- Lack of probable cause for warrantless search – In other cases, the objective circumstances do not support the police's use of one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement to conduct a warrantless search.
- Problems with the search warrant – Sometimes there are issues with the search warrant, including insufficiently corroborated allegations supporting probable cause. The police may also have conducted a search outside the scope authorized by the warrant.
- Violation of Miranda rights during interrogation – The police are often required to read you your Miranda rights when arresting you. If they fail to do so or fail to observe your rights, any statements you give may be inadmissible.
- Eyewitness inconsistencies or credibility issues – Witnesses presented by the state may change their story between initial questioning by police and their testimony at trial. Witnesses may also have circumstances that call their credibility into question.
- Quality of evidence issues – Photographs or recordings may be of such poor quality as to make identification difficult. Lineup or photo array identifications can be tainted by improper suggestion or influence by police.
- Evidence chain-of-custody issues – The police may not have accurate records of who had possession of a piece of evidence or where and when they had it, raising the possibility that such evidence may have been tainted.
- Calibration/accuracy issues with testing devices – In DUI and drug cases or cases involving DNA, lack of calibration, improper use of device, or accuracy issues may call the results into question or even render them inadmissible.
These issues can lead to the suppression of evidence. In addition, if tainted evidence led the police to other evidence, that evidence can also be suppressed under the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine. If evidence critical to the state's case is later thrown out by the court, it can result in dismissal of your charges for insufficient evidence.
What to Do If You've Been Arrested in Westport
If you've been arrested, don't make any statements or confessions until you have first spoken with a criminal defense attorney. Do not attempt to talk to the police or the prosecutor on your own. Instead, calmly but firmly decline to answer any questions and request to speak with an attorney. Be sure to contact a criminal defense attorney like me about your case at your first available opportunity.
If you are released after your arrest, do not speak with anyone except your attorney about your case. Avoid posting about your case on social media, and refrain from contacting any alleged victims or potential state witnesses. Doing so may violate the conditions of your release and may constitute a crime itself. Avoid committing any new offenses while awaiting trial. It may negatively impact your chances of obtaining a plea deal or could increase your sentence if you are convicted.
Criminal Defense FAQs
If you have been arrested, you may be feeling stressed, scared, and alone. To calm some anxieties, I have included the answers to some of the questions I hear most often from my clients below. To get personalized answers to your specific questions, be sure to call my office as soon as possible.
Should I plead guilty?
You may be tempted to plead guilty simply to avoid the time and expense of a trial and just move on with your life. But you should first speak with a criminal defense attorney like me. I will review the circumstance of your case, advise you of your rights, and help you decide whether to plead guilty. Ultimately, the decision is yours alone to make. If you decide to plead guilty, I will ensure you understand the process and will work to negotiate a favorable plea agreement with the prosecutor.
Will I get a longer sentence if I fight my case?
You have the constitutional right to have your case tried by a jury of your peers. The court cannot impose a longer sentence simply because you chose to take your case to trial. However, trials that end in conviction often lead to longer sentences than those offered in plea agreements. The court may also order you to pay the costs of your prosecution. To avoid the expense of trial, prosecutors tend to offer reduced charges or shorter sentences in plea deals.
Can the police legally search me?
Generally, the police must have a warrant to conduct a search. However, there are numerous exceptions to the warrant requirement, such as:
- Consent – You or another authorized individual consent to a search of your person, vehicle, or residence.
- Plain-view – While conducting a lawful activity, like a traffic stop for speeding, the police observe evidence of a crime or contraband in plain view.
- Protective search – The police may lawfully conduct a pat-down of a person in custody or a quick sweep of a vehicle or building to ensure there is nothing posing a danger to the police or others.
- Canine sniff – A police canine can indicate the presence of contraband, which may give police probable cause to conduct a search for that contraband.
Can I have my case dismissed if the police never read me my Miranda rights?
The police may have given you a form that describes your rights. By signing that form, you may have admitted that you read, understand, and waived your Miranda rights. In addition, the police only need to read you your Miranda rights if they intend to interrogate you. If they don't interrogate you, there is no need to read you your rights and anything you say may be deemed a voluntary statement.
Even if you make incriminating statements during questioning before being read your Miranda rights, the suppression of those statements might not lead to the dismissal of your case. The police may have evidence they obtained from other sources that may be sufficient to prove your guilt.
Contact a Westport Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Please call me for a consultation or contact me online now. I will fight for you and look for every opportunity to avoid sticking you with this permanent criminal record.
Your case evaluation is free, confidential, and there is no further obligation.
You will always speak with me, Erin Field, the attorney.