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What Do You Do if You Are On Trial For a Crime in Connecticut?

Crime is wrongdoing against the government, punishable by law. In Connecticut, there are two categories of offenses:

Misdemeanors: These are offenses that are not indictable

Felonies: refers to indictable crimes, usually more severe than misdemeanors.

In Connecticut, law enforcement officials may notify an alleged offender of their charges during their arrest or in a summons. They may also receive a notification of the charges during an arraignment. The Superior Courts of Connecticut handle almost all criminal cases within the state’s jurisdiction.

The arraignment process provides the defendant with their constitutional rights and a requirement to enter a plea. A guilty plea by the defendant punctuates the criminal justice process by a sentencing hearing. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the court schedules a pretrial conference.

What Percentage of Criminal Cases Go to Trial in Connecticut?

Although there are no specific figures published by Connecticut law enforcement agencies, less than 10% of criminal cases usually go to trial. It is cheaper in terms of time and resources to have a plea bargain or a settlement without a state trial. A case progresses to trial often because the defendant enters a not-guilty plea or if the prosecutor or defendant rejects a plea bargain.

When Does a Criminal Defendant Have the Right to a Trial?

A concerted effort of the state and federal constitution, statutes, and court rules govern the schedule of criminal trials in Connecticut. The 6th Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees an accused person the right to a public trial and a speedy one. The state statutes for Superior Court rules require that the courts try defendants within 12 months of filing a not-guilty plea. If the defendant has been in custody all the while before trial, then the trial must take place within eight months from arrest or filing of charges depending on which is earlier.

The rules of court allow a presiding judge to schedule criminal cases based on priority. Priority cases include a motion for a speedy trial, where the defendant is in custody without bond, or where the judge besides that a pretrial liberty for the defendant may pose risks to a fair judgment.

What Are The Stages of a Criminal Trial in Connecticut?

The following are the steps involved in a criminal trial in Connecticut:

  • The selection of jury by the prosecuting and defense counsel
  • Opening statements by the prosecuting attorney and defense counsels
  • Presentation of evidence
  • Invitation of witnesses to testify
  • Cross-examination of witnesses
  • Closing arguments

How Long Does It Take For a Case to Go to Trial in Connecticut?

According to the state’s laws, it takes a maximum of 12 months from filing charges or arrest to get a case tried, whichever is earlier. Persons in incarceration throughout the pretrial phase have the edge of a shorter waiting time of 8 months. If there is no reason for which the court does not set a trial date within 13 months of filing charges or arrests, the court dismisses such cases.

What Happens When a Court Case Goes to Trial in Connecticut?

The Criminal Justice Process in Connecticut comprises a pretrial, major trial, and post-trial phases. The pretrial process entails everything that either prepares both parties for a criminal trial or decides against going to trial. A not-guilty plea usually precedes a preparation for trial. Both parties use the pretrial phase to come up with evidence in favor of their case. A decision against going to trial can be because:

  • The defendant entered a guilty plea bargain
  • The prosecutor files in motion to dismiss the charges

Many cases get closure at this point and never proceed to a trial

Criminal trials may be a bench trial or a jury trial. The court often elects bench trials for misdemeanors. Jury trials are, however, compulsory features of felony offenses.

Post-trial activities represent all that transpires after the court holds the trial. These activities include a sentencing hearing, filings for review of court sentences, appeals, etc.

Can you be Put on Trial Twice for the Same Crime in Connecticut?

No. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, known as the double jeopardy clause, does not allow a repeat trial for the same crime. The clause does not include cases where an appellate court orders a retrial to review the case. Also, if a hung trial happens, then there could be a retrial. Hung Trial is a situation where the jury could not arrive at a verdict. Note that some crimes may warrant concurrent trials both at the state and federal levels.

How Do I Lookup a Criminal Court Case in Connecticut?

A criminal case at any point in time in Connecticut is closed or pending. Interested members of the public can visit the superior court of current jurisdiction on the case to request information using either the name of the defendant or the case ID number. While most criminal cases are open to the public in the state, the law protects certain case information from public disclosure by shielding them ab initio or moving a motion to withdraw the case from public access. Case information inaccessible to the public ab initio includes identifying information of the victims involved, eyewitness names and contact addresses, juvenile criminal cases, especially misdemeanors and some drug offenses, and traffic violations. The court can move to seal off a criminal case that may have otherwise been public information. The court bases its motion on discretion or upon request by an involved party. The general rule for discretional sealing of documents is if the benefits of privacy outweigh public knowledge, especially regarding a fair trial outcome or safety of the persons involved.

How to Access Electronic Court Records in Connecticut

The state of Connecticut Judicial Branch maintains an electronic database of convictions and case information in a way that it is available to the members of the public. To access this information, an individual must have a compatible device and an internet connection. The database is updated regularly as the case progresses. Users cannot get access to confidential information or sealed records on this database. Inquirers must direct their requests to the superior court of current jurisdiction, along with a court order granting access. All criminal cases less than ten years old are available on the state judiciary website.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How Do I Remove Public Court Records in Connecticut?

The decision to seal or erase a public record in Connecticut belongs to the court with current jurisdiction. While sealing a public record hides the information from the public, it is still available to any eligible requester or person with a court order. According to the state constitution, the erasure of public records is a deletion of all information that pertains to the case. It is as though the involved individual never faced the charge or conviction. Erasure comes easy if:

  • The charges never led to a conviction
  • An appeal to higher courts overturned the conviction
  • The state issues a pardon to the involved party

Involved persons can file for the erasure of a criminal record. It begins by filing with the superior court with the current jurisdiction of the Appellate Court Division. The decision to erase a record, however, remains the prerogative of the court.

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