Connecticut Home Invasions
In 2007, a brutal and tragic Cheshire Connecticut home invasion shocked and appalled the nation, including Connecticut lawmakers who quickly enacted a new criminal law that created a crime much more serious than Burglary. The new crime of “Home Invasion” in Connecticut provided zero tolerance for breaking and entering into an occupied home with the intent to commit a felony against an individual. What is even more compelling about an arrest for Home Invasion in Connecticut are the stiff penalties—10 years of mandatory minimum jail time. Since then, Connecticut police have made hundreds of arrests for Home Invasion in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan and other Connecticut cities and towns.
One offshoot of these arrests in Connecticut for Home Invasion under CGS 53a-100aa is how it has been affecting top Stamford Connecticut criminal defense lawyers’ ability to fight these Connecticut Home Invasion arrests. Some of the best Greenwich Connecticut criminal defense attorneys and lawyers would argue that prosecutors have significantly benefitted in their plea bargain negotiations in Home Invasion arrests. With a 10-year mandatory minimum jail sentence, prosecutors have been able to easily and often plead down Home Invasion arrests to felony Burglary arrests, as criminal defendants are just too wary of going to trial against a 53a-100a Home Invasion charge. But there’s hope. As you can learn by contacting a top Stamford Connecticut Home Invasion criminal lawyer, you will find out that the burden of proof is very difficult for prosecutors in Connecticut Home Invasion arrests, and that it is usually a good idea to take prosecutors to task in meeting their burden of proof before throwing up the white flag of surrender and taking a plea bargain. Therefore, if you are arrested for Home Invasion or Burglary in Stamford, Bridgeport, New Canaan, Darien, or Greenwich Connecticut, then you should contact a top Darien or Stamford Connecticut theft lawyer to counsel you through the police investigation, handle any plea negotiations with Connecticut prosecutors on your behalf, and attempt to provide you with the best defense possible at your jury trial if your Home Invasion arrest reaches the courtroom.
The Connecticut Home Invasion Statute and Penalties
The Connecticut crime of Home Invasion is codified in C.G.S. § 53a-100aa (click here for the full text of the statute). This crime is unique for a serous felony charge in Connecticut in that the Connecticut legislature did not subdivide the crime into varying degrees or lesser Home Invasion offenses. In other words, there is no such crime as first degree or second degree Home Invasion. As any of the best Burglary and Home Invasion lawyers in Connecticut would agree, to be arrested for Home Invasion in Connecticut, four elements need to be present. First, you must unlawfully enter or remain inside of a dwelling, Simply put, this means that you cannot enter a home where someone sleeps at night without permission. Second, another human being must be inside of the dwelling at the time of your illegal entry. A co-conspirator’s or accomplice’s presence inside the dwelling is not enough. It must be someone other than yourself or another person involved in the commission of the offense. Third, you must have the intent to commit a crime inside the home at the time of your illegal entry. So, if you were highly intoxicated and accidentally went into a stranger’s home because you thought it was your own, but you had no intention to do anything inside of the home – this is not a home invasion. You need to have the intention to commit a crime, such as a kidnapping, larceny, felony assault or sexual assault. However, even if all 3 elements above are satisfied, a fourth element must still be satisfied. This fourth element can be fulfilled if either of the following occurs during the course of committing a Connecticut Home Invasion: (1) you were armed with a deadly weapon, an explosive device, or some other dangerous instrument; or (2) you or a co-conspirator committed or attempted to commit a felony against one of the individuals in the home. A felony against a person can include crimes such as robbery, kidnapping, rape, or murder. Home Invasion is a Class A felony that carries up to 60 years in prison, 10 years of which cannot be reduced or suspended. A conviction to Home Invasion in Connecticut also includes probation and a maximum $20,000 fine.
The Legislative & Prosecutorial Aftermaths of the Cheshire Connecticut Home Invasion Case
The events surrounding the Cheshire Connecticut home invasion prompted immediate legislative action that understandably changed the landscape of the Connecticut criminal justice system forever. On January 25, 2008, just six months after the Cheshire murders, then-Governor Jodi Rell signed a bill into law that created the new crime in Connecticut of Home Invasion. To be clear, before the Cheshire murders, there was no Connecticut General Statute in existence that set forth the specific offense of home invasion. Pursuant to the new bill, Home Invasion was established as a Class A felony carrying a minimum prison sentence of 10 years. In addition to creating a new offense with a minimum mandatory sentence, the bill also raised the stakes for Burglary, amending and escalating the penalties in various degrees. Traditionally, entering a dwelling at night to accomplish a crime was considered Second Degree Burglary. Under the new post-Cheshire law, however, burglarizing a dwelling at night was raised to Burglary in the First Degree, which is a Class B Felony, carrying up to twenty years in prison.
Similarly, prosecutors now aggressively prosecute Burglary and Home Invasion cases with the Cheshire case very much on their mind. The Connecticut Department of Corrections and the Board of Parole are now very hesitant to grant early release programs due to violent offenders because of the Cheshire case. Finally, Connecticut Probation officers who are monitoring their violent offender clients who have robbery and burglary convictions are likewise very hesitant to give them much freedom and liberties. Understandably, no one is giving violent offenders the benefit of the doubt anymore. As you can see, the Cheshire home invasion case hit so close to home for Connecticut residents that it stimulated Connecticut lawmakers and courts to come down hard on offenses involving entry into peoples’ homes – especially at night. For this reason, it is critical to have the best Connecticut Home Invasion criminal lawyer attorney by your side if you are arrested for Home Invasion or Burglary in Stamford, Westport, Fairfield or any other Connecticut jurisdiction.
Fighting Home Invasion Arrests
Fighting a 53a-100aa Home Invasion arrest in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien or any other Connecticut city or town requires diligence, experience and resolve. You and your top Stamford Connecticut criminal lawyer will appreciate just how serious your case is, as the minimum jail sentence you could receive for a guilty plea or conviction to a Connecticut Home Invasion arrest would be at least 10 years in jail. Therefore, your top Westport and Greenwich Connecticut criminal lawyer attorney will need to conduct a meticulous and thorough review of the evidence in your case. This includes careful scrutiny of police reports, video surveillance evidence, cell phone tower and other telecommunications forensic evidence, and the physical evidence from the crime scene. While the police presumably conduct a fair and thorough investigation, once they zero in on a suspect, the best Fairfield and Ridgefield Connecticut criminal lawyers have sometimes seen police work evolve from an investigation for information, into an investigation for confirmation. It is at this point that not every stone goes unturned and it is up to the best Connecticut Home Invasion and Burglary criminal lawyers to do the job the police should have done, for the collective benefit of the case and, more importantly, for your freedom.
Additional work will need to be done to fight your Connecticut Home Invasion arrest in Stamford, Greenwich, or Ridgefield. Private investigators and digital forensic experts sometimes need to be engaged to answer tough questions: Can cell phone evidence support your alibi? Do the police reports and eyewitness statements justify a true 53a-100aa Home Invasion arrest? Or can your top Ridgefield Connecticut criminal lawyer convince the judge and prosecutor that this is really a Connecticut Criminal Trespass case or, at most, a Burglary case and not a Home Invasion? Once your top Wilton Connecticut criminal attorney lawyer learns the answers to these questions, then they can begin the process of pre-trial negotiations with the prosecutors. During these conferences, your top Connecticut criminal lawyer can walk the prosecutor through the weaknesses in the government’s case that the police did not show them. These negotiations are most effective during the early stages of your case—before a trial date is set. So if you have been arrested for Home Invasion in Wilton, Greenwich or Darien under CGS 53a-100aa, then you should try to consult with a top Stamford Connecticut Burglary and Home Invasion criminal attorney as soon as possible.
Remember, Home Invasion and First Degree Burglary charges are Class A and B felonies, respectively, and are not eligible for the Accelerated Rehabilitation Program. That means you cannot avail yourself of any of the most popular diversionary programs. Only unique and specialized mental health or substance abuse and addiction programs are available, and, generally speaking, they are very difficult to get in Home Invasion arrests in Darien, Stamford, and Greenwich. Therefore, if you are wrongfully arrested in Stamford, New Canaan, Greenwich or Darien for Home Invasion, you should contact any of the best Connecticut criminal lawyers to discuss your options in fighting your Connecticut Home Invasion arrest.
What’s the Difference Between a Home Invasion and a Burglary Arrest?
The very best Greenwich and Stamford Connecticut Home Invasion lawyers frequently see Connecticut law enforcement trump up Criminal Trespass and Burglary arrests to a CGS 53a-100aa Home Invasion case. Is the Home Invasion crime so similar to a First Degree Burglary case? The answer is yes. You see, the best Wilton and Danbury Connecticut criminal lawyers will likely tell you that Burglary in the First Degree criminalizes three particular scenarios which closely mirror the facts required for a Connecticut Home Invasion arrest.
The first scenario for Burglary in the First Degree is when you unlawfully enter or remain inside of a building, with the intention of committing a crime inside that building, while you are armed with a deadly weapon, an explosive, or some other dangerous instrument. This scenario could easily be elevated to a Home Invasion charge if one additional factor is present – there is an individual inside of the building other than yourself or any co-conspirator. You should also note that for this certain scenario of Burglary in the First Degree, the entry does not have to be into a dwelling; it may be a building. Pursuant to the Connecticut criminal law, a “dwelling” is defined as a building where people sleep at night, whereas a “building” is a broader term that can incorporate planes, trains, boats or most other structures with certificates of occupancy. For further clarification of the definitions for the terms used in the statutes defining Home Invasion and Burglary, click here to review C.G.S. 53a-100.
A second scenario punishable under the First Degree Burglary statute occurs when you enter into or remain inside of a building with the intention of committing a crime inside that building, and during the course of the offense, you inflict or attempt to inflict physical injury upon another individual, either intentionally, recklessly or knowingly. There are a few differences between this particular conduct and Home Invasion. First, it requires entry into a building, not a dwelling. Next, it requires injury or attempted injury of an individual, whether it was inflicted recklessly, intentionally or knowingly. Home Invasion, on the other hand, requires that a felony be committed against a person, and not just mere injury. This could be a serious assault, rape or sexual assault, or kidnapping. Finally, the Burglary statute does not specify who must be injured – in fact, it can be “anyone.” With Home Invasion, however, the person against whom the felony is committed must not be you or your co-conspirator.
The last type of conduct criminalized under the First Degree Burglary Statute is entering or remaining inside of a dwelling at night with the intention of committing a crime inside. This, like Home Invasion, requires entry into a dwelling rather than a building. Again, this could easily be elevated to a Connecticut Home Invasion arrest if someone other than yourself or a co-conspirator was present and either (1) you were armed with a deadly weapon, or (2) you committed a felony against that other person, such as a sexual assault or serious physical assault.
As you can see, the distinctions between Burglary in the First Degree and Home Invasion can be difficult to understand and appreciate. Most of the time, there is just one factor that can elevate a Burglary charge to a Home Invasion. This makes it all too easy for the police or Connecticut prosecutors to arrest you for Home Invasion in Stamford, Greenwich or Darien, and then try to strong-arm you into accepting a plea deal that requires you to plead guilty to Burglary in exchange for a lighter sentence and to avoid taking the risks of going to trial on charges for Home Invasion. The critical distinction between the two crimes is in their respective penalties. CGS 53a-199a Home Invasion is a Class A felony that carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 60 years, while Burglary in the First Degree is a Class B felony, carrying a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in certain scenarios, and a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.
Contact an Experienced Home Invasion Connecticut Criminal Lawyer at Mark Sherman Law Today
The Connecticut Home Invasion criminal lawyers at the Law Offices of Mark Sherman know just how high the stakes are in fighting Connecticut arrests for 53a-100aa Home Invasion. That’s why we offer our “two-attorney” guarantee that your entire case file, including all the police reports and witness statements, will be reviewed by at least two of our experienced criminal lawyers. Once reviewed, we will then sit with you and your family to discuss the most cost-effective defense strategy for your case. We will then meet with the judge and prosecutors to discuss the best possible disposition of your case. Know that our criminal lawyers are not afraid to push back against heavy-handed prosecutors and will take your case to trial if necessary. So if you are arrested for Home Invasion or Burglary in Darien, New Canaan, Greenwich or Stamford, then contact one of our experienced attorneys today. We are available at any hour, day or evening, to discuss your case. Call us today at (203) 358-4700 to schedule a consultation.