Connecticut Assault on a Police Officer Lawyer
It seems like the same old story in Connecticut Assault on a Police Officer cases: a police officer uses excessive restraint or force against a suspect. The suspect then gets physical with the officer to protect himself. The the suspect gets slapped with felony Assault on a Police Officer charges. So what could easily have been a misdemeanor Connecticut Interference with Police / Resisting Arrest charge is now a felony Assault on a Police Officer case.
It’s a scenario that top Stamford Connecticut assault lawyers see all too often—trumped up charges and arrests in Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk, and Stamford for Assault on a Police Officer in violation of CGS 53a-167c. So what can be done to fight these charges? As in any serious Stamford Connecticut criminal case, the first step is to enlist the assistance of a top Connecticut Assault on a Police Officer Lawyer who is not afraid to challenge the Greenwich and Stamford police departments in these cases. So if you are arrested in Stamford, Greenwich, or Darien for Assault on a Police Officer charges, you should contact a top Greenwich or Stamford Connecticut criminal lawyer as soon as possible.
The Definition of an Assault of a Police Officer Charge
The criminal statute for 53a-167c Assault on a Police Officer has traditionally been loosely interpreted and liberally enforced by Connecticut law enforcement. As we discuss below, whether a Connecticut police officer or State Trooper has actually been “assaulted” can be completely subjective and within the sole discretion of the arresting police officer. According to the precise language of C.G.S. § 53a-176c, to be guilty of 53a-176c, you must, with the intent of preventing the officer from performing his or her duties, cause physical injury to the officer. Remember it’s the intent to interfere with the officer’s performance of his or her duties, not the intent to injure the officer. This is much easier for the police to prove and requires a much easier offering of proof by the prosecution at a trial of an Assault on a Police Officer arrest in Connecticut.
Additionally, what is considered “physical injury” to a police officer has also been liberally interpreted by Connecticut courts and prosecutors. The definition is simple: for an officer to suffer “physical injury,” the officer must only feel some sort of “physical pain.” Contrary to what many of our clients think is minimally required for a 53a-167c Assault on a Police Officer crime, there is no requirement for the victim police officer to show proof of a broken bone, hospital visit, doctor’s visit or even a doctor’s note. If you think that this is a broad and unfair standard for people arrested for a 53a-176c Assault on a Police Officer charge, that’s because it is. In fact, we have seen police test the boundaries of this crime by slapping our clients with this charge for conduct that would not ordinarily be considered grounds for an assault charge: pushing, shoving, spitting on a police officer, or stepping in to break up a scuffle. This law provides a completely subjective standard for the arresting officer to assess whether the officer has experienced “physical injury” and “pain.” That’s why you need an experienced Connecticut Assault on a Police Officer Lawyer to break down the elements of a 53a-176c Assault on Police Officer arrest, chip away at the defects and deficiencies in your case, and ultimately try to persuade Connecticut prosecutors to dismiss your case.
Penalties for Assault of a Police Officer Charges
The criminal penalties and jail time for 53a-176c Assault of Police Officer are substantial. It is a Class C Felony which carries a jail sentence of up to 10 years, a maximum $10,000 fine, and years of probation.
Assault of a Police Officer Charge Doesn’t Just Protect the Police
While this statute is most commonly charged in connection with assaults of police officers and State Troopers, the Statute also protects other categories of peace officers, public servants and emergency medical personnel. Here’s just a sampling of the additional classes of individuals who, if assaulted, will trigger a 53a-176c felony charge and arrest:
- EMS / EMT personnel
- Emergency room doctors and nurses
- DCF investigators and social workers
- Department of Corrections officers
- Motor Vehicle inspectors
- Probation officers
While many of the above officers are not technically designated as “police” and do not have the authority to detain and arrest you, Connecticut lawmakers have classified them as “peace officers” or law enforcement officers who are protected by this 53a-167c statute. In some manner or practice, they put themselves in harm’s way during the performance of their duties, and if you try to obstruct them from doing their job and they suffer physical injury as a result of your interference, then you will find yourself facing a felony 53a-167c Assault on a Peace Officer / Police Officer arrest in Connecticut.
What’s the Difference between Assault on a Police Officer and Interference with Police / Resisting Arrest?
We often get calls from frustrated defendants who have been arrested for 53a-167c Assault on a Police Officer when they either barely made physical contact with the officer, or were simply defending themselves from unprovoked and unjustified excessive force by police. Understand that a Connecticut Assault on a Police Officer case is a relatively easy arrest for Connecticut police to effectuate. As a result, the lines are extremely blurry between 53a-176c Assault on Police Officer charges and 53a-167 Interference with Police / Resisting Arrest arrests. Assault on a Police Officer requires an intent to interfere with an officer’s duties plus causing physical injury. In contrast, Resisting Arrest / Interference forbids obstructing or hindering police officers in the performance of their duties and does not require any injury to the police officer. Practically speaking, the key differences between the two charges is (1) your intent, and (2) whether the police officer suffers some form of “physical injury.” Each of these elements must be aggressively scrutinized and challenged by your Connecticut Assault on a Police Officer Lawyer. At the very least, they may be able to persuade a prosecutor to reduce the felony charge to the Interference with Police misdemeanor, reducing the seriousness of the case and opening the door to a possible dismissal or more favorable disposition of your Stamford Assault on a Police Officer arrest.
Fighting Your Assault on a Police Officer Charge
As the best Connecticut Assault on a Police Officer Lawyers will tell you, digital evidence preservation has become a top priority for fighting 53a-176c Assault on a Police Officer charges. These charges usually arise during the course of an arrest, traffic stop, or police investigation. While police obviously prefer that the questioning or traffic stop remains calm, tensions can sometimes flare up, especially if there are alcohol or drugs involved, or if police are coming into a heated confrontation or Connecticut domestic violence crime scene. Thus, when police step in and apply physical force—even the slightest amount of it—you may be inclined to tense up or push back, possibly leading to a physical confrontation with police that may accidentally injure a police officer. Any surveillance evidence of the confrontation will be extremely helpful to your Stamford criminal lawyer in understanding what actually happened. Were the police too aggressive? Were you just defending yourself from excessive force? Were the police responsible for initiating the violent conduct? Video footage never lies. People do. As a result, digital surveillance is becoming more valuable to law enforcement and defense lawyers—police cruisers are equipped with digital dashboard cameras and some Fairfield County police departments are attaching digital cameras to police vests. This surveillance is in addition to any web cams installed on public streets, sidewalks and businesses that could also capture the alleged assault. Knowing how critical video surveillance evidence is to fighting your Connecticut assault case, the Mark Sherman Law criminal lawyers will immediately file motions with the Superior Court to preserve as much digital surveillance evidence as possible so that it does not disappear while you are waiting for a trial in your case.
Just as importantly, preserving the police officer’s medical records is critical to any defense in a case like this. Was the officer actually injured? Did they take any time off for the injury? Did they even see a doctor? Or are their complaints of “physical injury” merely pretextual to justify a trumped up felony Assault on a Police Officer arrest in Norwalk, Stamford or Greenwich? The Mark Sherman Law criminal lawyers will file discovery motions to get to the bottom of these questions. In our experience, we have sometimes seen the State’s case begin to crumble once we start filing these motions, forcing these issues, and compelling the prosecutors and officers to satisfy their burden of proof.
What is perhaps most important, however, is that you feel comfortable working with your Connecticut Assault on a Police Officer Lawyer and attorneys in fighting your Assault on a Police Officer charges. The Mark Sherman Law team of attorneys will meet with you to review the police reports, carefully go over your side of the story, and identify all the eyewitnesses and character witnesses needed to craft the most comprehensive and cost-effective defense strategy for you. Our “two-attorney” guarantee ensures that your police reports are carefully reviewed by at least two of our experienced criminal lawyers who will analyze and abstract the police reports for statutory and constitutional defects. We believe in the highest level of service and professionalism, especially in cases which involve Connecticut Assault on Police Officer arrests, where you can be sure the police will be vigilant about your prosecution. For the police, this is personal. The alleged victim is one of their own this time. Accordingly, you need to be as equally prepared and vigilant about presenting the best possible defense to your case.
Can You Get the Pretrial Accelerated Rehabilitation (“AR”) First Time Offenders Program for an Assault on a Police Officer Arrest?
Possibly, but it’s difficult. The good news is that the charge itself is in fact eligible for this Connecticut first time offenders diversionary program. However, as with any application for the Accelerated Rehabilitation Program in Fairfield County…a Danbury, Norwalk or Stamford Superior Court judge must make two important judicial findings: (1) that based upon facts and circumstances presented to the court, you are not likely to offend again, and (2) that your alleged conduct is not “serious” in nature. It is the second prong—the “seriousness” of the crime—that presents the biggest hurdle to top Darien and Greenwich criminal lawyers. Especially when the officer who was assaulted comes to court at your Accelerated Rehabilitation hearing to urge the court to deny your application. They will come with photos of their injury, hospital reports, and a laundry list of reasons why should not be granted the privilege of this AR program.
That’s when you need a top Stamford criminal attorney the most: to deflect and disarm the objections by police and prosecutors to your AR application for an Assault on a Police Officer arrest. What’s at stake is critical—getting the Connecticut Accelerated Rehabilitation program paves the way for keeping your criminal record clean. A denial of your Accelerated Rehabilitation program application forces you to choose between going to trial on your 53a-167c Assault of a Police Officer or pleading guilty as part of a plea bargain with Connecticut prosecutors. So proceed carefully with any AR application on these charges and work closely with your Stamford Connecticut criminal lawyer to make sure you are putting the best application package forward at your Accelerated Rehabilitation program application hearing.
Contacting a Connecticut Assault on a Police Officer Lawyer
As discussed above, Assault on a Police Officer arrests in Stamford, Darien, New Canaan, and Greenwich are extremely personal to the police. They are protecting one of their own, and they will aggressively pursue these cases and come to court to make sure the courts are aggressively prosecuting you. You must therefore be prepared to fight these charges with an aggressive defense, accompanied by a Connecticut Assault on a Police Officer Lawyer who is not afraid to clash with Stamford, Greenwich, Darien or New Canaan police in 53a-167c Assault on Police Officer arrests. While we understand police are just doing their job, the Mark Sherman Law criminal lawyers are prepared to go the distance in these cases. We will subpoena medical records, surveillance recordings, and police notes to protect our clients, regardless if it makes waves or ruffles feathers at the police station or courthouse. Your best defense is our only concern. We are focused on one goal only: results. So if you arrested for 53a-176c Assault on a Police Officer, call a Mark Sherman Law criminal lawyer today. We are available 24/7 to take your call at (203) 358-4700.