Connecticut Criminal Court Process And Bail Bonds
Criminal case is called "the State versus the defendant." because legal system's view is that a crime is not only a crime against a person, crime is also against the State. Thus, when the law is broken, the state takes the responsibility for prosecuting the offender to ensure general public safety.
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Connecticut criminal court division
- PART A - Which includes the most serious crimes such as capital felonies, class A felonies, and unclassified felonies punishable by sentences of more than twenty years.
- PART B - Class B felonies and unclassified felonies punishable by sentences of more than ten years but not more than twenty years.
- PART C - Class C felonies and unclassified felonies punishable by sentences of more than five years but not more than ten years.
- PART D - Class D felonies and all other crimes, violations, motor vehicle violations, and infractions.
- Community Court-Some criminal cases may be referred to Community Court which is a special session of the Hartford and Waterbury Judicial District Superior Courts. Most defendants are required to appear within two business days of being arrested. Most defendants are ordered to perform community service.
Criminal arrest and bail bond process in Connecticut
Four basic categories of crimes
- Felonies – Punishable by a prison term of one year or more;
- Misdemeanors – Punishable by a prison term of less than one year;
- Violations – Punishable only by a fine;
- Infractions – Punishable by a fine which may be paid by mail.
Motor vehicle charges can fall in any of the above categories.
An arrest occurs when an individual is taken into custody by legal authority with or without a warrant, based on probable cause that the individual has committed a crime.
If the police arrive at the scene of a crime and are able to quickly establish "probable cause" that a crime has been committed and that an identified person has committed the crime, and the person so identified is found at or near the scene of the crime, or is found shortly after the crime at another location, the suspect may be arrested.
If the suspect has fled the scene of the crime before the police arrive, the police may attempt to locate the suspect. If the suspect cannot be located within a reasonable amount of time after the crime was committed, or, if "probable cause" that a particular individual committed the crime can't be established until further police investigation has occurred, the police will then have to apply for an arrest warrant before the suspect can be arrested.
If persons alleged to have committed felony crimes. The police may arrest a suspect alleged to have committed a felony crime at any time without a warrant.
To be "booked" means that a formal record of the arrest and the reasons for the arrest is composed. The suspect will be fingerprinted, photographed and the suspect's clothing and any personal belongings on the suspect may be taken into custody and inventoried as part of the "booking" process. In some cases, clothing and/or personal belongings taken from the suspect may be handled and processed as evidence to be used later during the criminal prosecution.
Pre trial release scenarios
Pending court proceedings the accused have a right to be released from jail on bail except in capital felony cases.
If the suspect was taken into custody under a warrant, amount of bond may have been set by the judge, else the police will make an initial decision as to whether to release the suspect on bond, and, if so, the amount of such bond, until the first court date at which the suspect will be arraigned. A suspect may be released by the police under following scenarios:
- Written Promise to Appear (PTA) Requires only the suspect’s promise and signature for release.
- Non-Surety Bond Requires that the suspect agrees to pay a specified amount if she/he does not appear in court.
- Surety Bond Requires that the accused must pay a specified amount of money before she/he is released
If the accused has been given surety bond he or she must post bail in order to be released from jail.
Judicial system uses a bail bond, monetary obligation, in order to insure defendant's court appearances. A bail bondsman , who is authorized through licensure from Connecticut Insurance Department, can assume this monetary obligation on behalf of the defendant. Bail can be purchased from a bail bondman through civil agreement for small percentage of the bail amount.
Fee to purchase a bail bond, regulated by the State of Connecticut Insurance Department, is 10% of the bail bond amount for bond amounts of 5,000 dollars and less. For bail amounts that are greater then 5,000 dollars, fee is 7% of the bail amount plus 150 dollars. Use Bail Bond premium and finance calculator.
If bail bond is provided by a bail bondsman, the accused will be released from jail usually within few hours.
If the suspect cannot meet the bond set by the police, judge or bail commissioner, the suspect will remain in custody until the next scheduled court session at which time the suspect will be arraigned.
An arraignment is the first court appearance that starts the courtroom phase of a criminal prosecution.
- Defendant, is formally accused of having committed the crime(s) being charged.
- Qualified the defendant is allowed to apply for public defender.
- The defendant will enter an initial plea to the charges.
- Bail commissioner will report to the judge regarding defendant's prior criminal history, record of court appearances, family and community ties and etc.
- Judge will also hear arguments from the state’s attorney and defense counsel to decide whether the bond amount and/or conditions set by the police or bail commissioner is appropriate or should be revoked, raised, or lowered.
- The judge may order the defendant to surrender all firearms, order restraining orders, protective orders or no contact orders.
- Date for the defendant to return to court to begin the Pre-Trial stage of the criminal prosecution is set by the judge.
Pretrial diversionary programs in Connecticut
The defendant may apply for Accelerated Rehabilitation (AR) if he or she has no prior criminal convictions, has not previously used AR, and the crime charged is not of a serious nature.
is available to a people who are charged with driving a motor vehicle or a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The defendant is eligible if defendant has not used the alcohol education program in the preceding ten years, and has not in the past been convicted of crimes of manslaughter with a motor vehicle while intoxicated, assault with a motor vehicle while intoxicated, nor driving while intoxicated.
is for people charged with possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia and has not previously participated in the program or the community service labor program.
The Community Service Labor Program is available to persons charged with illegal possession of narcotics or possession of drug paraphernalia and the applicant has not previously been convicted for possession of narcotics, possession of drug paraphernalia or possession of narcotics with intent to distribute. The program may be granted as a "suspended prosecution" pretrial diversionary program for;
- Person who has previously participated in the program, as a condition of probation or conditional discharge with a suspended sentence.
- Person who has not been placed in the program more than twice.
If the defendant successfully completes the program, the charges are dismissed by the court.
When an applicant has been charged with a family violence crime, he or she may request to be admitted to the Pre-Trial Family Violence Program if;
- Defendant has not been previously convicted of a family violence crime and,
- Defendant has not previously used the family violence education program and,
- Defendant has not previously used accelerated rehabilitation for a family violence crime.
Defendant may be placed in the alternative incarceration program in instead of serving jail time. The alternative incarceration program usually includes an intensive probation program including community service hours, employment, psychiatric and psychological evaluation, drug and alcohol dependency treatment, and counseling. This program is run by the office of Adult Probation. The program may be residential, such as the Connecticut Restitution Center.
Trial and Plea phase
If the defendant decides to accept a negotiated plea offer from the State, the defendant will go before the judge who will hear from the State, the defense attorney and the crime victim or the crime victim's representative before deciding whether to accept or reject the plea agreement.
Defendant admits to committing the crime. The judge will ask a series of question to determine that the defendant understands what she/he is doing by pleading guilty, is doing so voluntarily, and understands that by pleading guilty she or he is giving up the right to have a trial.
Nolo Contendere or nolo ("no contest"):
A written plea signed by the defendant on a form that allows the court to make a finding of guilty but the plea cannot be used as an admission in a subsequent criminal or civil proceeding. However, the defendant will have a criminal record and the conviction can be used as grounds for deportation.
Defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that the evidence the state has against him or her is so strong that she or he has decided that it would be in his or her best interest to plead guilty. An "Alford" plea is the functional equivalent to a “nolo” plea.
There are two types of trials: a bench trial where the case is decided by a judge and a jury trial where the case is decided by a jury. The defendant will choose which type of trial she/he wants.