Being accused of a crime can be an incredibly scary experience. Even if you have been involved with the criminal justice system, the possibility of receiving a harsh sentence – and going to jail or prison – can be overwhelming.
If you or a loved one are in this situation, there are options. A skilled criminal defense lawyer will investigate the facts of your case, and put together strong factual and legal defenses to the charges against you. Through negotiations with the prosecutor and an aggressive trial strategy, your attorney can help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
At the Sills Law Firm, we represent clients throughout Connecticut who have been charged with crimes ranging from relatively minor misdemeanor offenses to serious, violent felonies. We use our knowledge of Connecticut law and the criminal justice system to resolve your case in the best way possible. If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Waterbury or the surrounding area, reach out to our law firm today for a free consultation about your case.
Types of Cases We Handle
Our law firm exclusively represents clients who have been charged with crimes. This focus on criminal defense work gives us the experience and insight necessary to defend our clients against a range of criminal charges.
Our practice areas include:
- Domestic violence
- Driving under the influence (DUI, also known as Operating under the influence, or OUI)
- Drug crimes
- Juvenile crimes
- Probation violations
- Property crimes
- Sex offenses
- Theft crimes
- Traffic tickets and infractions
- Violent crimes
- Weapons offenses
- White collar crimes
Being convicted of any Connecticut criminal offense can have a significant impact on your life. Depending on the crime, a conviction could lead to jail time or a sentence in state prison, hefty fines and fees, probation, community service, and having a criminal record. For certain crimes, such as DUI, you may also lose your driver’s license.
In addition to a court sentence and administrative action, you may face a range of collateral consequences. Having a criminal record can make it hard to get a job, qualify for student loans, or find housing. It can also affect your immigration status if you are not a citizen.
If you have already been convicted of a crime in the state of Connecticut, our law office may be able to file an appeal on your behalf. These appeals are typically based on an error of law or fact made by the trial judge, or by issues such as ineffective assistance of counsel.
We also assist clients with expungements, which is a process by which a person with a criminal record can get that record cleared. A skilled Connecticut criminal defense lawyer can offer you legal advice about your eligibility for expungement, and represent you throughout the process.
Our Approach to Connecticut Criminal Charges
By the time that you reach out to a criminal lawyer, the district attorney may have already filed charges against you. In other situations, you may be the target of a criminal investigation. Regardless of where you are at in the criminal justice process, we will take a proactive approach to help you achieve the best possible outcome.
Many criminal defense attorneys take a wait-and-see approach, sitting back and seeing what the police and prosecutors will do. We know that time is of the essence in criminal cases. The most critical window for defending a client against criminal charges often comes in the first days following an arrest, or even before charges are formally filed.
After a free case evaluation, if you decide to hire our law firm, we will get to work immediately. This typically means working with an investigator to locate evidence that is favorable to your case. Our investigators will locate witnesses and interview them, obtain surveillance tapes, perform background checks on key prosecution witnesses, and seek out evidence that corroborates your story.
At the same time, our legal team will be busy performing research and developing a strategy for your case. This may include reaching out to local police and prosecutors to present our evidence and arguments as to why charges shouldn’t be filed, or why they should be dismissed or reduced.
If the case moves forward, we will continue to aggressively defend you based on the facts of your case. For example, if we believe that the police illegally stopped you or that they searched your home illegally, we may file a motion to suppress the evidence against you. Because each case is unique, the specific tactics that we use will vary – but you can have peace of mind knowing that we will zealously defend you using our knowledge of Connecticut law and experience as criminal defense lawyers.
Steps in the Connecticut Criminal Justice Process
If you are arrested in Connecticut, you may be taken into custody or released on your own recognizance, with a promise to appear in court. You will then be arraigned, which involves a judge reading the charges against you and explaining your rights to you. At this point, you will have an opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges against you, and the judge will set your bond.
If you plead not guilty, then the case will proceed towards trial. At a pretrial conference, your attorney and the prosecutor will discuss your case and attempt to negotiate a plea deal. If the case is not resolved at this stage, then the judge will set a date for trial.
Throughout this process, your attorney will be investigating your case, reviewing the evidence (discovery) provided by the prosecutor, taking depositions of key witnesses, seeking out experts, and filing legal motions. The goal of this work is to put together a defense strategy, which may include seeking to have the charges dropped or getting them reduced to a lower-level offense.
If your case goes to trial, you have a right to a trial by jury. During trial, each side will have the opportunity to present opening arguments, offer evidence, call witnesses, cross-examine witnesses, and give closing arguments. Once all evidence and arguments have been presented, the judge will give the jury instructions on the legal issues involved in the case. The jury will then deliberate and render a verdict of guilty or not guilty. If you are found guilty, then the sentencing phase will begin.
Throughout this process, your Waterbury criminal lawyer will be on your side, building a defense case and fiercely advocating for your legal rights and your freedom. From your first appointment through the final resolution of your case, your attorney will work to help you achieve the best possible outcome – which may include negotiating a favorable plea agreement, getting the charges reduced or dismissed, or convincing a jury that the prosecution cannot prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Police Want to Talk to Me About a Crime. Should I Talk to Them?
The answer to this question depends on your specific situation. If you were simply a witness to a crime, then it is probably fine to talk to the police about what you saw. However, if you are a possible target of a criminal investigation, then you should not talk to the police before you consult with a Waterbury criminal defense attorney.
No matter what the police might say to you if they believe that you were somehow involved in a crime, they are not on your side or trying to help you. Anything that you say to them can and will be used against you. Remember that you have a right to remain silent, and exercise that right.
If the police do contact you and you are concerned that you could be charged with a crime, reach out to a criminal lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can advise you of your rights, and communicate with the police on your behalf, which may involve telling law enforcement that you will not be talking to them.
I Have Been Charged with a Crime. Will I Go to Jail?
For many Connecticut crimes, there is a possibility of jail time if you are convicted or plead guilty to the offense. However, there are also a number of ways that you can avoid jail time depending on your specific situation. Most often, this is achieved with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Your lawyer may be able to have the charges against you reduced or even dismissed alternatively. They may also be able to negotiate a plea deal that includes a recommendation for no jail time. If you are convicted or plead guilty to the offense, then they may be able to convince a judge that you should be able to participate in a diversion program rather than going to jail.
A diversion program is an opportunity to resolve your case without going to trial. If you successfully complete the program – which may include attending alcohol education classes, doing community service, or other requirements – then the charge against you will be dropped.
There are a number of diversionary programs in Connecticut, including for people with drug and alcohol addiction, mental health diagnoses, and other issues. Your attorney can advise you about your eligibility for a diversion program, and advocate for you to be sentenced to such a program instead of being sent to jail.
I Plan to Plead Guilty. Do I Really Need to Hire a Lawyer?
In some situations, you may acknowledge that you committed the crime in question, and just want to plead guilty to move forward with your life. It still makes sense to hire a criminal defense attorney even if you plan to plead guilty to the charge(s) against you for a number of reasons.
First, criminal lawyers are trained to spot issues. They may notice something about your case that never would have occurred to you, like an illegal search of your phone, and then advocate for the charges against you to be reduced or dismissed as a result. Having an attorney on your side can help to ensure that you do not unnecessarily plead guilty to a crime.
Second, your attorney can help you understand what a guilty plea will mean for you and for your future. Many people only look at the immediate consequences imposed by the judge and don’t consider that there may be other effects – like losing your right to bear arms, being stripped of your professional license, or even being deported. Their legal advice can allow you to make a more informed decision about how you want to handle your case.
Third, your lawyer can work to get you the best possible sentence if you do decide to plead guilty. There are many ways that an attorney can negotiate a better deal with the prosecutor, or even convince them to agree to a diversion program. A criminal defense lawyer can also present evidence to the court to help ensure that your sentence reflects your circumstances, potentially minimizing the penalties that you will face.
Facing Criminal Charges? Contact Us Today.
If you have been charged with a crime in the state of Connecticut, you will need legal counsel to defend you. A skilled lawyer will analyze and investigate every facet of your case, using their experience, knowledge, and creativity to develop the best possible defense for you.
At the Sills Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping clients who have been charged with criminal offenses. With offices in Waterbury and Hartford, we represent individuals throughout Connecticut. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a DUI defense lawyer, call us anytime at 866-971-5841, or fill out our online contact form.