Connecticut Court Procedure

A. Introduction

            The Court process is inherently long and stressful for a defendant.  Here at Ruane Attorneys our experienced lawyers and staff will do everything in their power to give you the information, guidance, and confidence to relieve your anxiety and make the process as painless as possible.  While procedures and techniques may change at various stages of the court process court process, be assured that at every stage of the court process our objective remains the same: Securing you an acquittal, dismissal,or reduction of the charges against you. 

            As your case begins there are four key points to keep in mind that will make the process as smooth as possible.  (1) COMMUNICATION.  It is essential that you contact us the moment that you receive any court correspondence you receive any court correspondence you receive that is not sent from our office.  Additionally, to ensure that we can promptly contact you it is important that you keep our office updated should you have any change in telephone number; e-mail; or mailing address.  (2) PAY COURT FEES AND COSTS ON TIME.  In order to avoid stressful and unnecessary delays in your case you must pay all court fees and costs on time.  Preferably before the date you are scheduled to be in court.  (3) ATTEND COURT WHEN REQUIRED.  Many stages of the court process cannot take place without your attendance.  Failing to attend a scheduled court date will at a minimum delay the disposition of your case.  Failure to attend a required court date may result in bond forfeitures; license suspensions; or a warrant being issued for your arrest.  (4) AVOID ANY OTHER CRIMINAL CHARGES.  While it may seem too obvious to mention, our attorneys have seen dozens of cases on their way to favorable dispositions hindered by a client getting a second or even third criminal charge against them while their case is pending.  Please be smart, play it safe. 

B. Connecticut Drug Court Procedure

            1. Arrest

            Criminal prosecution typically begins with an arrest by a police officer. A police officer may arrest a person if (1) the officer observes the person committing a crime; (2) the officer has probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed by that person; or (3) the officer makes the arrest under the authority of a valid arrest warrant. After the arrest, the police books the suspect. When the police complete the booking process, they place the suspect in custody. If the suspect committed a minor offense, the police may issue a citation to the suspect with instructions to appear in court at a later date.
           
            2. Bail

            If a suspect in police custody is granted bail, the suspect may pay the bail amount in exchange for a release. Release on bail is contingent on the suspect's promise to appear at all scheduled court proceedings. Bail may be granted to a suspect immediately after booking or at a later bail review hearing. Alternatively, a suspect may be released on his "own recognizance." A suspect released on his own recognizance need not post bail, but must promise in writing to appear at all scheduled court appearances. Own recognizance release is granted after the court considers the seriousness of the offense, and the suspect's criminal record, threat to the community and ties to family and employment.
           
            3. Pretrial: Arraignment

            Your first court appearance will be made at the ARRAIGNMENT. During arraignment, the judge will the charges filed against the defendant in the complaint (he/she is “arraigned”), and the defendant chooses to plead "guilty," "not guilty" or "no contest" to those charges. The judge will also review the defendant's bail and set dates for future proceedings.

            4. Pre-trial: Pre-trial Negotiations

            Next, the PRE-TRIAL stage of adjudication allows for our attorneys to discuss the merits of your defense with state attorneys, behind closed doors, attempting to secure our client the best possible disposition of his/her case.
            If pre-trial discussions with the State do not produce a satisfactory disposition, the case will be scheduled for a JUDICIAL PRE-TRIAL.  This stage involves both defense and prosecution attorneys meeting with a judge to determine whether the case can be resolved without going to trial.  If the case still cannot be resolved, we will prepare to take it to TRIAL.

            5. Pre-trial: Plea

            Plea bargains usually involve the defendant admitting guilt in exchange for a lower sentence.  In many cases negotiations between defense lawyers and state’s attorneys result in a compromise that is acceptable to both parties involved.  If a compromise can be reached it may eliminate the need for a trial, which will save time and money for both parties.  While a defendant is usually compelled to admit guilt and will have a conviction on his record in most circumstances, the reduced sentence received from the plea is often more desirable than risking a guilty conviction at trial and leaving sentencing to the discretion of a judge.  Any potential plea, and its consequences, will be thoroughly explained and discussed with the client.  A plea will not be accepted without the client’s informed consent. 

            6. Pre-trial: Special Sessions and Diversionary Programs

            The court offers several “diversionary plans” that use a combination of court-supervised community and social services in order to address the defendant’s underlying social issues or addictive behavior that lead to their crime, while still holding the defendant responsible for their actions.  
                       
                        a. Community Court

            The Connecticut Judicial Branch operates two Community Court Sessions
in Hartford and Waterbury. The Community Courts deal with a wide array of crimes including simple possession of marijuana, breach of peace, criminal mischief, criminal trespass, larceny (shoplifting), disorderly conduct, threatening, prostitution, solicitation of prostitutes, illegal liquor possession by a minor, public nuisance, public drunkenness, excessive noise and illegal vending.
            Most defendants are ordered to perform community service in lieu of being sentenced.  For example, defendants may work on a street clean-up crew or help deliver food to the needy. Upon completion of the community service, their cases are typically dismissed or nolled.
            The Court also requires all defendants to meet with a member of the Community Court Social Services Team. The social services staff at both Community Court locations consists of representatives from each city’s social service agency and the State Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). The court monitors and sanctions defendants mandated for treatment by the Social Services Team.

                        b. Drug Intervention Program

            The Drug Intervention Program incorporates successful strategies and techniques for dealing with defendants with substance abuse problems into the ongoing operations of the court. It handles a wide variety of cases in which substance abuse is a prevailing issue and includes treatment, supervision and judicial monitoring.  Currently, there are programs in Bridgeport, New Haven and Danielson.Two primary goals of the Drug Intervention Program are to decrease criminal behavior and reduce substance abuse for those who participate in the intervention.
            The Drug Intervention Program incorporates several levels of treatment and supervision of offenders. Regular court appearances and drug testing are required. For a period of twelve to fifteen months, offenders are required to report to the court for compliance monitoring and receive orders, sanctions and incentives deemed appropriate by the judge.  Treatment and services are in place for the court to recommend, including detoxification, in-patient treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, as well as vocational and educational training. Daily supervision of each offender is available through alternative incarceration centers. The court, courthouse staff, and treatment/ social service staff work collaboratively to monitor the progress of offenders while they remain in the Drug Intervention Program. Successful completion of this program can result in the granting of a disposition that is favorable to the defendant.
            Defendants who are non-violent and drug dependent, as defined by C.G.S. § 21a-240, may be eligible for this program. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 21a-240(18) defines “drug dependence” as “ a psychoactive substance dependence on drugs as that condition is defined in the most recent edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” of the American Psychiatric Association.” Conn. Gen. Stat. § 21a-240(19) defines “drug-dependent person” as “a person who has a psychoactive substance dependence on drugs as that condition is defined in the most recent edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” of the American Psychiatric Association.”

                        c. Accelerated Rehabilitation

            The Accelerated Pretrial Rehabilitation Program (A.R.) (C.G.S. § 54-56e) is available to certain persons charged with crimes or motor vehicle violations that are not of a serious nature, but for which a sentence of imprisonment may be imposed. This program is not available to persons charged with certain felonies, those with previous convictions, those adjudged a youthful offender within the preceding five years, or those who are eligible for or previously have used certain other diversionary programs, such as the Family Violence Education Program or the Pretrial Drug Education Program.
            Prior to being granted Accelerated Rehabilitation, the defendant is required to give notice to the victim, if there is one. The victim has an opportunity to be heard on the defendant’s application to the program. If the court grants the application, the defendant is released into the custody of the Court Support Services Division (CSSD) for a period not to exceed two years. If the defendant successfully completes the assigned program, the charges are dismissed by the court.
            Unless waived by the court, the AR program requires an application fee of $35 and a program fee of $100.  If the defendant is ordered to participate in a hate crimes diversionary program as a condition of AR, the program fee is $425. 

                        d. Accelerated Rehabilitation: Relevant Statutes
           
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-56e Accelerated pretrial rehabilitation

(a) There shall be a pretrial program for accelerated rehabilitation of persons accused of a crime or crimes or a motor vehicle violation or violations for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment may be imposed, which crimes or violations are not of a serious nature.

(b) The court may, in its discretion, invoke such program on motion of the defendant or on motion of a state's attorney or prosecuting attorney with respect to a defendant (1) who, the court believes, will probably not offend in the future, (2) who has no previous record of conviction of a crime or of a violation of section 14-196, subsection (c) of section 14-215, section 14-222a, subsection (a) of section 14-224 or section 14-227a, (3) who has not been adjudged a youthful offender within the preceding five years under the provisions of sections 54-76b to 54-76n, inclusive, and (4) who states under oath, in open court or before any person designated by the clerk and duly authorized to administer oaths, under the penalties of perjury that the defendant has never had such program invoked in the defendant's behalf, provided the defendant shall agree thereto and provided notice has been given by the defendant, on a form approved by rule of court, to the victim or victims of such crime or motor vehicle violation, if any, by registered or certified mail and such victim or victims have an opportunity to be heard thereon. In determining whether to grant an application under this section with respect to a person who has been adjudged a youthful offender under the provisions of sections 54-76b to 54-76n, inclusive, more than five years prior to the date of such application, and notwithstanding the provisions of section 54-76l, the court shall have access to the youthful offender records of such person and may consider the nature and circumstances of the crime with which such person was charged as a youth. Any defendant who makes application for participation in such program shall pay to the court an application fee of thirty-five dollars.

(c) This section shall not be applicable: (1) To any person charged with a class A felony, a class B felony, except a violation of section 53a-122 that does not involve the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against another person, or a violation of section 14-227a, subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 53-21, section 53a-56b, 53a-60d, 53a-70, 53a-70a, 53a-70b, 53a-71, 53a-72a, 53a-72b, 53a-90a, 53a-196e or 53a-196f, (2) to any person charged with a crime or motor vehicle violation who, as a result of the commission of such crime or motor vehicle violation, causes the death of another person, (3) to any person accused of a family violence crime as defined in section 46b-38a who (A) is eligible for the pretrial family violence education program established under section 46b-38c, or (B) has previously had the pretrial family violence education program invoked in such person's behalf, (4) to any person charged with a violation of section 21a-267 or 21a-279 who (A) is eligible for the pretrial drug education program established under section 54-56i, or (B) has previously had the pretrial drug education program invoked in such person's behalf, (5) unless good cause is shown, to any person charged with a class C felony, or (6) to any person charged with a violation of section 9-359 or 9-359a.

(d) Except as provided in subsection (e) of this section, any defendant who enters such program shall pay to the court a participation fee of one hundred dollars. Any defendant who enters such program shall agree to the tolling of any statute of limitations with respect to such crime and to a waiver of the right to a speedy trial. Any such defendant shall appear in court and shall, under such conditions as the court shall order, be released to the custody of the Court Support Services Division, except that, if a criminal docket for drug-dependent persons has been established pursuant to section 51-181b in the judicial district, such defendant may be transferred, under such conditions as the court shall order, to the court handling such docket for supervision by such court. If the defendant refuses to accept, or, having accepted, violates such conditions, the defendant's case shall be brought to trial. The period of such probation or supervision, or both, shall not exceed two years. The court may order that as a condition of such probation the defendant participate in the zero-tolerance drug supervision program established pursuant to section 53a-39d. If the defendant has reached the age of sixteen years but has not reached the age of eighteen years, the court may order that as a condition of such probation the defendant be referred for services to a youth service bureau established pursuant to section 10-19m, provided the court finds, through an assessment by a youth service bureau or its designee, that the defendant is in need of and likely to benefit from such services. When determining any conditions of probation to order for a person entering such program who was charged with a misdemeanor that did not involve the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against another person or a motor vehicle violation, the court shall consider ordering the person to perform community service in the community in which the offense or violation occurred. If the court determines that community service is appropriate, such community service may be implemented by a community court established in accordance with section 51-181c if the offense or violation occurred within the jurisdiction of a community court established by said section. If the defendant is charged with a violation of section 46a-58, 53-37a, 53a-181j, 53a-181k or 53a-181l, the court may order that as a condition of such probation the defendant participate in a hate crimes diversion program as provided in subsection (e) of this section. If a defendant is charged with a violation of section 53-247, the court may order that as a condition of such probation the defendant undergo psychiatric or psychological counseling or participate in an animal cruelty prevention and education program provided such a program exists and is available to the defendant.

(e) If the court orders the defendant to participate in a hate crimes diversion program as a condition of probation, the defendant shall pay to the court a participation fee of four hundred twenty-five dollars. No person may be excluded from such program for inability to pay such fee, provided (1) such person files with the court an affidavit of indigency or inability to pay, (2) such indigency or inability to pay is confirmed by the Court Support Services Division, and (3) the court enters a finding thereof. The Judicial Department shall contract with service providers, develop standards and oversee appropriate hate crimes diversion programs to meet the requirements of this section. Any defendant whose employment or residence makes it unreasonable to attend a hate crimes diversion program in this state may attend a program in another state which has standards substantially similar to, or higher than, those of this state, subject to the approval of the court and payment of the application and program fees as provided in this section. The hate crimes diversion program shall consist of an educational program and supervised community service.

(f) If a defendant released to the custody of the Court Support Services Division satisfactorily completes such defendant's period of probation, such defendant may apply for dismissal of the charges against such defendant and the court, on finding such satisfactory completion, shall dismiss such charges. If the defendant does not apply for dismissal of the charges against such defendant after satisfactorily completing such defendant's period of probation, the court, upon receipt of a report submitted by the Court Support Services Division that the defendant satisfactorily completed such defendant's period of probation, may on its own motion make a finding of such satisfactory completion and dismiss such charges. If a defendant transferred to the court handling the criminal docket for drug-dependent persons satisfactorily completes such defendant's period of supervision, the court shall release the defendant to the custody of the Court Support Services Division under such conditions as the court shall order or shall dismiss such charges. Upon dismissal, all records of such charges shall be erased pursuant to section 54-142a. An order of the court denying a motion to dismiss the charges against a defendant who has completed such defendant's period of probation or supervision or terminating the participation of a defendant in such program shall be a final judgment for purposes of appeal.

                        e. Drug Education Program

            The Pre-Trial Drug Education Program (DEP) (C.G.S. § 54-56i) is available to persons charged with a violation of C.G.S. §§ 21a-267 (drug paraphernalia) or 21a-279 (drug possession).  A person who previously participated in this program or in the community service labor program is not eligible for this program. Upon application for the program, the court file is sealed.
            If the court grants the application, the defendant is referred to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (through the Court Support Services Division) for placement in the drug education program. In addition to the educational portions of the program, completion of four days of community service is required. If the defendant successfully completes the program, the charges are dismissed by the court. The Drug Education Program fee is $350.  All or a portion of the fee may be waived by the court. 

                        f. Drug Education Program: Relevant Statutes

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-56i Pretrial drug education program

(a) There is established a pretrial drug education program for persons charged with a violation of section 21a-267 or 21a-279. The drug education program shall include a ten-session drug intervention program, a fifteen-session drug intervention program and a drug treatment program.

(b) Upon application by any such person for participation in such program and payment to the court of an application fee of one hundred dollars and a nonrefundable evaluation fee of one hundred dollars, the court shall, but only as to the public, order the court file sealed provided such person states under oath, in open court or before any person designated by the clerk and duly authorized to administer oaths, under penalties of perjury, that such person has never had such program invoked in such person's behalf. A person shall be ineligible for participation in such pretrial drug education program if such person has previously participated in the eight-session, ten-session or fifteen-session drug education program, or substance abuse treatment established under this section or the pretrial community service labor program established under section 53a-39c. The evaluation and application fee required pursuant to this subsection shall be credited to the pretrial account established under section 54-56k.

(c) The court, after consideration of the recommendation of the state's attorney, assistant state's attorney or deputy assistant state's attorney in charge of the case, may, in its discretion, grant such application. If the court grants such application, the court shall refer such person to the Court Support Services Division for confirmation of the eligibility of the applicant and to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for evaluation.

(d) Upon confirmation of eligibility and receipt of the evaluation required pursuant to subsection (c), such person shall be referred to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services by the Court Support Services Division for placement in the drug education program. Participants in the drug education program shall receive appropriate drug intervention services or substance abuse treatment program services, as recommended by the evaluation conducted pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, and ordered by the court. Placement in the drug education program pursuant to this section shall not exceed one year. Persons receiving substance abuse treatment program services in accordance with the provisions of this section shall only receive such services at state licensed substance abuse treatment program facilities that are in compliance with all state standards governing the operation of such facilities. Any person who enters the program shall agree: (1) To the tolling of the statute of limitations with respect to such crime; (2) to a waiver of such person's right to a speedy trial; (3) to complete participation in the ten-session drug intervention program, fifteen-session drug intervention program or substance abuse treatment program, as recommended by the evaluation conducted pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, and ordered by the court; (4) to commence participation in the drug education program not later than ninety days after the date of entry of the court order unless granted a delayed entry into the program by the court; and (5) upon completion of participation in the pretrial drug education program, to accept placement in a treatment program upon the recommendation of a provider under contract with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services or placement in a treatment program that has standards substantially similar to, or higher than, a program of a provider under contract with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services if the Court Support Services Division deems it appropriate. The department shall require as a condition of participation in the drug education program that any person participating in the ten-session drug intervention program or the substance abuse treatment program also participate in the community service labor program, established pursuant to section 53a-39c, for not less than five days; and that any person participating in the fifteen-session drug intervention program also participate in said community service labor program, for not less than ten days.

(e) If the Court Support Services Division informs the court that such person is ineligible for the program and the court makes a determination of ineligibility or if the program provider certifies to the court that such person did not successfully complete the assigned program and such person did not pursue or the court denied reinstatement in the program under subsection (i) of this section, the court shall order the court file to be unsealed, enter a plea of not guilty for such person and immediately place the case on the trial list.

(f) If such person satisfactorily completes the assigned program, such person may apply for dismissal of the charges against such person and the court, on reviewing the record of such person's participation in such program submitted by the Court Support Services Division and on finding such satisfactory completion, shall dismiss the charges. If such person does not apply for dismissal of the charges against such person after satisfactorily completing the assigned program, the court, upon receipt of the record of such person's participation in such program submitted by the Court Support Services Division, may on its own motion make a finding of such satisfactory completion and dismiss the charges. Upon motion of such person and a showing of good cause, the court may extend the placement period for a reasonable period for such person to complete the assigned program. A record of participation in such program shall be retained by the Court Support Services Division for a period of ten years from the date of application.

(g) At the time the court grants the application for participation in the pretrial drug education program, such person shall pay to the court a nonrefundable program fee of three hundred fifty dollars if such person is ordered to participate in the ten-session drug intervention program or five hundred dollars if such person is ordered to participate in the fifteen-session drug intervention. If the court orders participation in a drug treatment program, such person shall be responsible for the costs associated with such program. No person may be excluded from any such program for inability to pay such fee, provided (1) such person files with the court an affidavit of indigency or inability to pay, (2) such indigency or inability to pay is confirmed by the Court Support Services Division, and (3) the court enters a finding thereof. The court may waive all or any portion of such fee depending on such person's ability to pay. If the court denies the application, such person shall not be required to pay the program fee. If the court grants the application, and such person is later determined to be ineligible for participation in such pretrial drug education program or fails to complete the assigned program, the program fees shall not be refunded. All such program fees shall be credited to the pretrial account established under section 54-56k.

(h) If a person returns to court with certification from a program provider that such person did not successfully complete the assigned program or is no longer amenable to treatment, the provider, to the extent practicable, shall include a recommendation to the court as to whether a ten-session drug intervention program, a fifteen-session drug program or placement in a substance abuse treatment program would best serve such person's needs. The provider shall also indicate whether the current program referral was an initial referral or a reinstatement to the program.

(i) When a person subsequently requests reinstatement into a drug intervention program or a substance abuse treatment program and the Court Support Services Division verifies that such person is eligible for reinstatement into such program and thereafter the court favorably acts on such request, such person shall pay a nonrefundable fee of one hundred seventy-five dollars if ordered to complete a ten-session drug intervention program or two hundred fifty dollars if ordered to complete a fifteen-session drug intervention program, as the case may be. Unless good cause is shown, such fees shall not be waived. If the court grants a person's request to be reinstated into a drug treatment program, such person shall be responsible for the costs, if any, associated with being reinstated into the treatment program. All fees collected in connection with a reinstatement to a drug intervention program shall be credited to the pretrial account established under section 54-56k. No person shall be permitted more than two program reinstatements pursuant to this subsection.

(j) The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services shall develop standards and oversee appropriate drug education programs to meet the requirements of this section and may contract with service providers to provide such programs. The department shall adopt regulations, in accordance with chapter 54, to establish standards for such drug education programs.

(k) Any person whose employment or residence or schooling makes it unreasonable to attend a drug intervention program or substance abuse treatment program in this state may attend a program in another state that has standards similar to, or higher than, those of this state, subject to the approval of the court and payment of the program fee as provided in this section.

                        g. Community Service Labor Program

            Community Service Labor Program (CSLP) (C.G.S. § 53a-39c) is available to persons charged with a violation of C.G.S. §§ 21a-267 (drug paraphernalia) or 21a-279 (drug possession).  A person who previously has been convicted of a violation of C.G.S. §§ 21a-267 (drug paraphernalia), 21a-277 (sale/manufacture/distribution of drugs), 21a-278 (sale/manufacture/distribution of drugs by non drug dependant person) or 21a-279 (drug possession) is not eligible for the program. 
            The program may be granted (1) as a “suspended prosecution” pretrial diversionary program, or (2) for a person who has previously participated in the program, as a condition of probation or conditional discharge with a suspended sentence. No person may be placed in the program more than twice.
            A person who is granted the “suspended prosecution” program is referred to the Court Support Service Division (CSSD) for placement in the program. A drug education component is required.  If the defendant successfully completes the program, the charges are dismissed by the court. The period of community service shall be a minimum of fourteen days for a first violation and thirty days for a second violation involving a plea of guilty and conviction. There is a $205.00 participation fee for this program

                        h. Community Service Labor Program: Relevant Statutes

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-39c Community service labor program

(a) There is established, within available appropriations, a community service labor program for persons charged with a violation of section 21a-267 or 21a-279 who have not previously been convicted of a violation of section 21a-267, 21a-277, 21a-278 or 21a-279. Upon application by any such person for participation in such program the court may grant such application and (1) if such person has not previously been placed in the community service labor program, the court may either suspend prosecution and place such person in such program or, upon a plea of guilty without trial where a term of imprisonment is part of a stated plea agreement, suspend any sentence of imprisonment and make participation in such program a condition of probation or conditional discharge in accordance with section 53a-30; or (2) if such person has previously been placed in such program, the court may, upon a plea of guilty without trial where a term of imprisonment is part of a stated plea agreement, suspend any sentence of imprisonment and make participation in such program a condition of probation or conditional discharge in accordance with said section 53a-30. No person may be placed in such program who has twice previously been placed in such program.

(b) Any person who enters such program shall pay to the court a participation fee of two hundred five dollars, except that no person may be excluded from such program for inability to pay such fee, provided (1) such person files with the court an affidavit of indigency or inability to pay, (2) such indigency is confirmed by the Court Support Services Division, and (3) the court enters a finding thereof. All program fees collected shall be deposited into the alternative incarceration program account.

(c) Any person for whom prosecution is suspended and who is placed in the community service labor program pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall agree to the tolling of the statute of limitations with respect to such crime and to a waiver of such person's right to a speedy trial. A pretrial community service labor program established under this section for persons for whom prosecution is suspended shall include a drug education component. If such person satisfactorily completes the program of community service labor to which such person was assigned, such person may apply for dismissal of the charges against such person and the court, on reviewing the record of such person's participation in such program and on finding such satisfactory completion, shall dismiss the charges. If the program provider certifies to the court that such person did not successfully complete the program of community service labor to which such person was assigned or is no longer amenable to participation in such program, the court shall enter a plea of not guilty for such person and immediately place the case on the trial list.

(d) The period of participation in a community service labor program shall be a minimum of fourteen days for a first violation and thirty days for a second violation involving a plea of guilty and conviction.

                        i. Youthful Offender Program
                       
            The Youthful Offender Program (YO) is available to certain persons charged with committing a crime prior to their eighteenth birthday. It is not a pretrial diversionary program, but rather an alternative to prosecution as adults for such youths. All 16 and 17 year-old defendants are presumed to be eligible for YO status, except those who have been charged with certain felonies, have already been convicted of a felony on the adult docket, or have been adjudicated as a serious juvenile offender. 
            Upon the adjudication of any person as a youthful offender, the court may (1) commit the defendant, (2) impose a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, (3) impose a sentence of conditional discharge or a sentence of unconditional discharge, (4) impose a sentence of community service, (5) impose a sentence to a term of imprisonment not greater than that authorized by the crime committed by the defendant but in no case for more than four years, (6) impose a sentence and suspend the execution of the sentence, entirely or after a period set by the court, (7) order treatment pursuant to section 17a-699, or (8) if a criminal docket for drug dependant persons has been established pursuant to section 51-181b in the judicial district in which the defendant was adjudicated a youthful offender, transfer the supervision of the defendant to the court handling such docket.

            Records and proceedings of youthful offenders are confidential and Youthful Offender adjudications are not deemed convictions. There is no fee for the youthful offender program. However, if a person is placed on YO probation, unless waived by the court, the probation fee of $200 is required. 

                        j. Treatment of Drug or Alcohol Dependent Offenders in Lieu of                                     Prosecution

            Courts are authorized under a separate statutory program to order offenders who are drug or alcohol dependent into treatment in lieu of prosecution or incarceration (C.G.S. §§ 17a-696 to 17a-699).  The pretrial diversion aspect of the program covers all drug sale and possession crimes.  A person charged with driving under the influence, assault in the second degree with a motor vehicle, or a class A, B, or C felony is not eligible for suspended prosecution and treatment. In addition, anyone who was twice previously ordered treated under this program or under a program covered by earlier versions of this law (C.G.S. §§ 17-155y(i), 19a-386, or 21a-284 of the General Statutes, revised to 1989) is not eligible.  However, the court may waive these eligibility rules (C.G.S. § 17a-696). 
            The first step in the process is a treatment evaluation.  The court, on its own motion or that of the state’s attorney, or a person charged with or convicted (but not yet sentenced) of a crime, may order an examination to determine if a person is alcohol- or drug-dependent and eligible for treatment. A probation officer may also order such examination as part of a pre-sentence investigation.
            An eligible person may make a motion for suspended prosecution and treatment after the court receives the examination report. The court may order prosecution suspended and treatment for an eligible person if it finds that: (1) the person was alcohol-or drug-dependent at the time of the offense, (2) he needs and is likely to benefit from treatment, and (3) suspension of prosecution would advance the interest of justice.  Prosecution may be suspended for up to two years.
            If the court finds that the person is responding well to treatment or has completed treatment and has complied with the other conditions of suspension, it may dismiss the charges.
           
                        k. Treatment of Drug or Alcohol Dependent Offenders in Lieu of                                     Prosecution: Relevant Statutes
                                   
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 17a-696. Order for suspension of prosecution and treatment for alcohol or drug dependency.

(a) The provisions of this section shall not apply to any person charged with a violation of section 14-227a or 53a-60d or with a class A, B or C felony or to any person who was twice previously ordered treated under this section, subsection (i) of section 17-155y, section 19a-386 or section 21a-284 of the general statutes revised to 1989, or any combination thereof. The court may waive the ineligibility provisions of this subsection for any person.

(b) The court may order suspension of prosecution and order treatment for alcohol or drug dependency as provided in this section and sections 17a-697 and 17a-698 if it, after considering information before it concerning the alcohol or drug dependency of the person, including the examination report made pursuant to the provisions of section 17a-694, finds that (1) the accused person was an alcohol-dependent or drug-dependent person at the time of the crime, (2) the person presently needs and is likely to benefit from treatment for the dependency, and (3) suspension of prosecution will advance the interests of justice. Treatment may begin no earlier than the date the clinical examiner reports under the provisions of section 17a-694 that space is available in a treatment program.

(c) A suspension of prosecution ordered under the provisions of subsection (b) of this section may be for a period not exceeding two years. During the period of suspension, an accused person shall be placed in the custody of the Court Support Services Division for treatment for alcohol or drug dependency. The court or the Court Support Services Division may require that the person (1) comply with any of the conditions specified in subsections (a) and (b) of section 53a-30, and (2) be tested for use of alcohol or drugs during the period of suspension. The accused person shall, unless indigent, pay the cost of treatment ordered under this section.

(d) If prosecution is suspended under the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, (1) the statute of limitations applicable to the crime charged shall be tolled during the period of suspension, and (2) the accused person shall be deemed to have waived such accused person's right to a speedy trial for the crime charged.

(e) The court shall not suspend prosecution under subsection (b) of this section unless (1) the accused person has acknowledged that he or she understands the consequences of the suspension of prosecution, (2) the accused person has given notice, by registered or certified mail on a form prescribed by the Chief Court Administrator, to the victim, if any, of the crime of which the person is accused and of the pending motion for suspension of prosecution, (3) such victim, if any, has been given an opportunity to be heard on the motion for suspension of prosecution, and (4) the accused person, unless such accused person is indigent, has paid to the clerk of the court an administration fee of twenty-five dollars.

(f) If the prosecution is suspended, the person shall be released on a written promise to appear or on a bond and any other bond posted in any criminal proceeding concerning such person shall be terminated.

(g) If the court denies the motion for suspension of prosecution, the state's attorney may proceed with prosecution of the crime.

(h) A person shall be deemed to be indigent for the purposes of this section if the court determines the person has an estate insufficient to provide for the person's support or there is no other person legally liable or able to support the person.

            7. Pretrial Motions

            The TRIAL process begins with the opportunity for both sides to file MOTIONS.  These motions, filed on your behalf, are made to the court requesting some type or “relief”.  The relief requested on your behalf typically takes the form of motions to exclude some, or all, of the evidence the State is attempting to bring against you.  We may seek to exclude test results; field evaluations; or statements made where such evidence was collected in ways that do not meet constitutional or statutory standards.  We are filing motions to ensure that your rights are safeguarded to the full extent that the law as well as both United States and Connecticut Constitutions allow. 
            IMPORTANT: Please understand that MOST JUDGES REFUSE TO HEAR MOTIONS UNTIL THE DAY OF TRIAL.  This means that we will be forced to prepare for both motions and trial simultaneously, thereby requiring your payment of the entire trial fee prior to motions being argued in such cases.
           
            8. Discovery

            Additional motions will be filed with the Prosecutors requesting the DISCOVERY in your case.  The discovery process requires the prosecution to produce evidence that it intends to present against you in court.  This evidence may take the form of witnesses against you, physical evidence, or likely both.  This Constitutionally guaranteed process allows us to be fully prepared when we enter court on your behalf. 
           
            9. Oral Arguments

            Next, ORAL ARGUMENTS of these motions will be scheduled.  These arguments are an important step, as they allow your attorney to present your case, while attacking various aspects of the State’s case, to the judge prior to trial.  Typically present at oral arguments will be the judge, your attorney, the prosecutor, the State’s witnesses (usually the arresting officer), and yourself.  There will be no jury present during oral arguments, as the aim is to exclude any prejudicial or wrongfully obtained evidence from the proceedings before the jury is able to see that evidence.  This process ensures fairness by only allowing juries to consider appropriate evidence. 

 

C. Trial

            After the judge rules on the motions presented in oral arguments, we will take your case to TRIAL.  If your case goes to trial, it means that we have exhausted all pretrial possibilities for a disposition or that the potential dispositions involve certain requirements or outcomes that, after thorough discussion, we have determined are unacceptable to you.  Your trial could be either a JURY TRIAL (a six-person jury is used in misdemeanor cases, while a 12-person jury is used in felony cases) or a BENCH TRIAL (heard only by the judge).  The decision on which type of trial will, of course, be made on the basis of which gives us the greatest advantage to WIN.  99% of our trials are before a jury.  The election to have a jury trial is made when your attorney appears with you in court and officially enters your plea of NOT GUILTY.
            At trial, the judge or the jury will either find the defendant guilty or not guilty. The prosecution bears the burden of proof in a criminal trial. Thus, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crimes charged. The defendant has a constitutional right to a jury trial in most criminal matters. A jury or judge makes the final determination of guilt or innocence after listening to opening and closing statements, examination and cross-examination of witnesses and jury instructions. If the jury fails to reach a unanimous verdict, the judge may declare a mistrial, and the case will either be dismissed or a new jury will be chosen. If a judge or jury finds the defendant guilty, the court will sentence the defendant.
             
             1. Trial Preparation
           
            As the time for trial draws near, we will be coordinating WITNESSES AND SUBPOENAS.  We will need your assistance in compiling the necessary information regarding your witnesses to assure the information is collected timely and correctly.  It is critical that you STAY IN TOUCH WITH YOUR FACT WITNESSES, because we will need to be able to contact them and provide them with a subpoena to secure their appearance in court. 
            Please understand that the trial process involves the likelihood of a CONTINUANCE of court dates.  Conflicts between cases invariably occur for a variety of reasons, and court dates are subject to last minute change.  For example, it is not unusual for multiple jury trials to be set for the same date.  As a result, it is imperative that we know how and where we can contact you at all times.  Our office will contact you the day before any scheduled court date to confirm.  Should any LAST MINUTE CHANGES arise, we will contact you with that important information, so please BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR VOICE AND/OR E-MAIL MESSAGES. 
            During the trial phase your case will normally be placed “on call” for one hour or one day notice.  This means that is the clerk calls to advise us that we need to be in court, the case will typically begin within as little as one or two hours.  There are also times when YOUR CASE MAY NOT BE REACHED during the trial calendar that you are scheduled for, and will be continued to another date.  We understand that this process can be extremely stressful and disruptive to you.  Please realize that WE ARE AT THE MERCY OF THE COURT in regards to scheduling and there is little we can do to prevent these disruptions.  Accordingly, THIS IS A CRUCIAL TIME FOR OUR OFFICE TO KNOW HOW TO REACH YOU, please be available to avoid any unnecessary stress or wasted time. 
            Some cases take from 12 months to 2 years from the date of arrest until a jury trial begins.  Other courts, with smaller caseloads, may begin a trial within 2 months of your arrest. 
           
            2. Trial Costs

            A key factor to resolving any case in a timely manner is PAYMENT OF FEES AND COSTS ON TIME.  Fortunately, more than half of our cases are resolved BEFORE a trial date is scheduled, so the TRIAL PORTION OF THE FEE IS NEVER DUE FOR THOSE CLIENTS.  For clients that do progress to the trial stage your fees are due NOT LESS THAN 10 DAYS PRIOR TO THE FIRST SCHEDULED TRIAL DATE. 
            In every case, there will be costs in addition to the fees involved in your case.  For example, we may need to request transcripts of motion hearings of DMV hearings.  We may need to use private investigators, videographers and couriers in many cases.  From time to time, we must pay the State prosecutor’s office for duplicating a video or audiotape.  We may need to request documents under the “Open Records” Act, or subpoena witnesses who are entitles to an expert witness fee, per diem costs or travel expenses.  These costs will need to be taken care of by you as soon as you receive the bill to avoid any delays in preparing your case for trial. 
            If your case requires one or more expert witnesses, you will be responsible for the cost of the expert’s fees and all expenses for his/her time preparing for and attending court.  Whenever the need for an expert is apparent, our attorneys will have discussed this with you during your initial interview.  Your express approval for retaining an expert witness will be requires, as it is generally a major expense. 
            Finally, please do not risk another possible arrest while your case is pending.  Our office has had dozens of clients get a second or third similar charge while the first was pending.  The best thing you can do to aid your chances of success in your current case are abide by the courts orders and avoiding further criminal charges. 
            The path leading to our objectives: acquittal, a dismissal, or a reduction of the charges is long and difficult.  All of the attorneys and staff of Ruane Attorneys are here to do everything in our power to help you through this stressful time.
            Please remember to CONTACT OUR OFFICE IF YOU RECEIVE ANY COURT CORRESPONDENCE NOT SENT TO YOU THROUGH OUR OFFICE.

 

D. Sentencing

            During the sentencing phase of a criminal case, the court determines the appropriate punishment for the convicted defendant. In determining a suitable sentence, the court will consider a number of factors, including the nature and severity of the crime, the defendant's criminal history, the defendant's personal circumstances and the degree of remorse felt by the defendant.

 

E. Appeals

            An individual convicted of a crime may ask that a higher court review his or her case. If that court of appeals finds an error in the case or the sentence imposed, it may reverse the conviction or find that the case should be re-tried. 
            In certain circumstances the appeals court has the ability to suspend penalties imposed by the trial court.  The appeals court may suspend the imposition of prison time or other sanctions (such as drivers license suspension) until a final decision has been reached on the appeal.




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