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Connecticut Criminal Law: An Overview

If you've been charged with a crime or a violation, it's understandable that you may feel as if Connecticut's criminal laws are working against you. However, by educating yourself about these laws and seeking help from an attorney, you may find that you can use these laws to ensure that your rights are protected and your punishment isn't unfairly severe.

Use LawInfo's criminal law articles to help educate yourself about Connecticut's laws and how they affect your case. You can learn about the difference between misdemeanors and felonies, intoxicated driving charges and many other state-specific criminal law topics. You can also use LawInfo to connect with a Connecticut criminal law attorney in Bridgeport, New Haven, Stamford or elsewhere in the state.

Murder vs. Manslaughter in Connecticut

Connecticut's criminal laws recognize a distinct difference between murder and manslaughter. While each one results in the death of a victim at the perpetrator's fault, the classification of the crime and the penalties the perpetrator may face depend on whether the homicide was intentional (or premeditated).

A killing is classified as a murder when the perpetrator had intended to kill the victim before the crime was committed. If the perpetrator didn't intend to kill the victim before the crime's commission, it may be ruled as manslaughter.

Manslaughter is often called either an "accidental" killing or a "heat of passion" killing. For example, if you get into a car accident that kills the other driver, a passenger or a bystander, it may be ruled as an accidental (or "involuntary") vehicular manslaughter. Or if you killed your cheating partner and/or their lover in the heat of passion upon discovering their relationship, it may be ruled as (voluntary) manslaughter.

Murder is either classified as a Class A felony or a capital felony, the most severe criminal charges with the highest fine and imprisonment penalties. Manslaughter charges range from Class A misdemeanors (the lowest severity) to Class B felonies depending on aggravating circumstances.

Connecticut Marijuana Crimes

Marijuana possession and use laws are still an ongoing discussion topic in the United States. Many states have legalized marijuana for medical use, and several have legalized it for recreational use. Connecticut has legalized medical marijuana and decriminalized illegal possession and recreational use offenses.

Only authorized patients with qualifying, debilitating medical conditions are permitted to use and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for medical use in Connecticut. Recreational use and possession are illegal. If you're caught illegally possessing less than half an ounce of marijuana, you could be issued a civil penalty of:

  • $150 for the first offense.
  • $200 to $500 for subsequent offenses.
  • Mandatory drug education for third and subsequent offenses.
  • 60-day driver's license suspension or 150-day waiting period after completing driver's license requirements for offenders under 21 years of age.

Illegal possession of more than half an ounce of marijuana can result in a:

  • Class A misdemeanor with up to one year of imprisonment and/or a $2,000 fine for the first offense.
  • Court-ordered substance abuse treatment if the offender is found to be drug dependent upon the second offense.
  • Class E felony with up to three years of imprisonment for subsequent offenses.

Crime Classifications in Connecticut

Every state has its own system of classifying crimes which also identifies the statutory punishments for each classification. Like many states, Connecticut has three main classifications of criminal offenses: felonies, misdemeanors and violations.

Felonies are the most serious offenses and are subdivided into seven classifications (from most to least serious): capital felonies, Classes A through E felonies and unclassified felonies. They're penalized with a term of imprisonment exceeding one year and up to a life term.

Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies and are subdivided into five classifications: Classes A through D felonies and unclassified felonies. They're penalized with up to a year of imprisonment.

Violations are the least serious and non-criminal offenses. There aren't subdivided into different classifications and are only penalized with a fine.

Speak to an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today

This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified criminal defense lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local criminal defense attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.

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