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Connecticut Man Sentenced to 16 Years for a Gunfight and Drug Charges

connecticut man sentenced to years for a gunfight and drug charges

Hartford, Connecticut has been in the news recently as a prominent gang leader and drug dealer was sentenced to 16 years in prison. The defendant was Wilson “Wiso” Velez, age 35. The charges happened after Velez started a serious gunfight on Franklin Avenue in Hartford. The gunfight caused three men to need treatment in a local hospital. Velez pled guilty to drug and firearm charges and drug charges after the gunfight. 

Velez is a Prominent Drug Dealer and Gang Leader

Velez ran the Latin King gang in Hartford. He was the organization’s regional officer in Connecticut, meaning he was the highest-ranking leader in the state. The FBI worked with local Hartford detectives in a sting operation. They planted informers who would buy guns as well as large amounts of fentanyl and heroin. The sting operation happened mainly on Hamilton Street and Elliot Street in Hartford. Velez ran a clothing store and a construction business and was a husband and father of three children who lived in Newington. 

One of Velez’s Drug Dealers Also Faces Charges

An informant who worked with the FBI and local investors engaged in several drug deals with Frankie “Lips” Vega, also age 35. One of the drug deals in the sting operation was for 400 bags of fentanyl and another drug deal was for 290 bags of fentanyl. When investigators inspected Velez’s apartment, they found hundreds of bags of fentanyl. Many of these bags had the same name stamped on the bags as the bags sold by Vega. 

Vega pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute and distribution of heroin and fentanyl, according to the federal U.S. Attorney’s office. During the bust, Vega was one of 10 members of the Latin King members who were named. An FBI task force initially arrested Vega in 2017 for drug dealing by Latin Kings on Broad Street in Hartford.  

The Gun Fight That Led to the Arrest of Velez

The gunfight happened three years ago, and tensions between the Latin Kings and their rival gangs have been long standing. According to federal prosecutors, Velez started a gunfight in April 2017. Four other members of the Latin Kings decided to chase away two other drug dealers who they accused of being in their territory. The two members they chased away had set up their drug dealing business near Barker Street and Franklin Avenue.

A fistfight occurred after the two other gangsters resisted leaving the territory. The two rival gang members shot members of Velez’s team in the legs and Velez’s main enforcer was hit multiple times with gunshots. The man was hospitalized after going into a coma for months but he eventually survived. 

Six months after the gunfight, law enforcement arrested Velez. He was released on a bond after he totally renounced the Latin Kings. Once he was released, he went back to leading the gang and dealing drugs. Law enforcement arrested him not long after he got back into gang activity. Other members of the Latin Kings have been indicted since 2018 as part of the massive sting operation. 

Possession With the Intent to Distribute in Connecticut

Under Connecticut law, any person in possession of any controlled substance who law enforcement officials think intends to sell those drugs can face charges for possession with intent to distribute. Even if law enforcement does not catch someone in the act of selling the drugs, a person can still face charges under this law. 

In the cases mentioned above, law enforcement officers found large quantities of drugs in the suspects’ possession, leading them to charge the defendants with a distribution crime. The crime of possession with the intent to distribute is more serious than a simple drug possession charge in Connecticut. Prosecutors often use the following factors to prove that the defendant was intending to sell drugs:

  • The way in which the drugs are packaged
  • The manufacturing equipment or packaging equipment in your possession
  • The volume of drugs in your possession

Controlled Substances in Connecticut 

The penalties faced by a suspect depend on the quantity of drugs as well as how the drugs are classified under Connecticut law. Like most other states, Connecticut categorizes drugs into different classes or categories. Class A substances are the most dangerous and most likely to lead to addiction, including Heroin, Morphine, Ketamine, or “Special K,” and GHB. 

Class B substances include cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, PCP, meth, and popular prescription drugs such as Percodan and Percocet. Class E controlled substances are the least dangerous substances and include morphine, certain opiates, and prescription drugs with a small amount of Codeine. 

Drug Possession Charges in Connecticut

Anyone who is found in possession of a controlled substance will likely face criminal charges. If you are found with a high volume of a controlled substance, you may face charges for possession with the intent to distribute. If the amount of the drug you are found with does not meet those standards, you will likely face drug possession charges. If you are caught carrying half an ounce or less of cannabis, for example, you will only be charged with an infraction that comes with a $150 fine. 

If you are charged with subsequent crimes, you will face larger charges and a possible driver’s license suspension. Drug possession charges in Connecticut are incredibly serious. They can have a massive impact on your life, including a loss of employment and education. Even though the consequences are not as serious as possession with intent to distribute charges, you should still take them seriously. 

Contact Our Connecticut Drug Charges Lawyers Today

If you have been charged with drug possession with intent to distribute, you are facing serious penalties. If your charge involved heroin, meth, or cocaine, you will face a mandatory minimum sentence between five and 20 years and up to life imprisonment. You need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. Contact the Red Law Firm as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.

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Commonly Charged Firearms Violations in Connecticut

commonly charged firearms violations in connecticut

Connecticut’s firearms laws are strict. Lawmakers intend to strictly regulate the use of firearms and protect other people from harm. Prosecutors are serious when they bring charges for firearms violations. Nonetheless, there are several different ways that innocent Connecticut residents can find themselves facing criminal firearms charges

Sometimes, a defendant can face firearms charges for acts he or she engaged in unintentionally. For example, someone might have failed to lock a gun case safely. Or perhaps someone put off renewing a concealed weapon permit in time and his or her license expired. Whatever the reason for your firearm violation, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights. Below are a few of the common firearm violation charges:

Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm

Unlawful discharge of a firearm happens when the defendant intentionally, negligently, or carelessly discharges any firearm in such a manner as to be likely to cause bodily injury or death to persons or domestic animals, or the wanton destruction of property. You do not need to intentionally discharge your firearm to be convicted under this crime. The prosecutor needs only to prove that you negligently discharged your firearm. In Connecticut, this crime carries a potential jail sentence of up to three years in prison and fines of $250. 

Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon

In Connecticut, it is illegal to carry certain types of weapons, including the following:

  • BB guns
  • Metal knuckles
  • Switchblade
  • Knife with a blade greater than 4 inches
  • Police baton
  • Martial arts weapon
  • Electronic defense weapon

Suspects who have been caught carrying any of these dangerous weapons face up to three years in prison and fines of up to $500. Convicted defendants will also have a felony conviction on their criminal record.

Possession of a Stolen Firearm

Stealing another person’s firearm is also illegal in Connecticut. A defendant is guilty of stealing a firearm when a person wrongfully takes, obtains, or withholds a firearm. Prosecutors will need to prove that the defendant intends to deprive someone else of their firearm or to steal the firearm and give it or sell it to a third party. Stealing a firearm in Connecticut is a class C felony. Those convicted will face a sentence of two years. The defendant will also face five thousand dollars or less fine in addition to having a permanent record as a felon. 

Owning a Gun or Pistol Without a Permit 

Under Connecticut law, everyone who carries a handgun needs to have a gun permit. You must carry the permit on your person whenever you are carrying your handgun. You do not need a permit to possess a gun in your own home as long as your gun stays in your home. If law enforcement discovers that someone is carrying a handgun without the proper permit, they can be punished by up to a $35 fine. If the person carrying the gun does not have a permit at all, he or she can face imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of up to $1,000. The person will face a minimum one-year mandatory prison sentence when no mitigating factors are present. 

Selling a Firearm Without a License

Under federal law, anyone who sells firearms needs to have a federal firearm license. Under Connecticut state law, those who sell handguns must also have a dealer’s permit issued by Connecticut police chiefs. Even if you are a casual seller, you will need a permit if you have sold 10 or more handguns within the calendar year. 

Carrying a Dangerous Weapon

Many people assume that firearms are the most highly regulated weapons. However, weapons other than guns are just as highly restricted. Connecticut law prohibits people from carrying certain types of dangerous weapons on their person, including the following types of weapons:

  • Long knives
  • Switchblades
  • Brass knuckles
  • Blackjacks
  • Dirk knife
  • Any knife with an automatic spring blade that is released from the handle
  • Any knife having a blade of over one and a half inches in length
  • Any knife with an edged portion that is four inches or more in length
  • A police baton or nightstick
  • Any martial arts weapon
  • Any electronic defense weapon
  • Any other dangerous weapon or instrument

People are also prohibited from carrying dangerous weapons in their motor vehicles. This crime is a class E felony in Connecticut. There are several exceptions to this law. Members of the armed forces, police officers, and security guards are allowed to carry certain types of knives. There are several other exceptions to this rule. An experienced defense attorney will review your case and determine whether you can raise any of these exceptions as a defense to your charges. 

Felony in Possession of a Firearm

Federal law prohibits certain groups of people from possessing or purchasing firearms. Felons, certain people with a history of mental illness, and certain domestic abusers are prohibited from possession of a firearm. Under Connecticut law, the following people cannot possess a firearm in almost all cases:

  • Defendants convicted of a felony, with very limited exceptions, or those who have committed certain intimidating or violent misdemeanors after 2013.
  • Those convicted of the commission of a serious juvenile offense
  • Those discharged from custody within the last 20 years after having been found not guilty of a crime due to a mental defect or disease
  • Those who have been confined in a mental hospital for those with psychiatric disabilities within the last year through the order of a probate court
  • Someone subject to a firearms seizure order, or a restraining or protective order of any state court

The penalty for violating the prohibitions above will face class C felony charges along with a mandatory minimum prison sentence of two years and a fine up to $5,000. 

Contact Our Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers 

If you have been charged with a firearms charge in Connecticut, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to advocate on your behalf. Contact the Red Law Firm as soon as possible to schedule your free initial consultation with one of our experienced lawyers today.

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Defenses for a DUI Charge in Connecticut

defenses for a dui charge in connecticut

If you have been pulled over and charged with a DUI in Connecticut, you are probably feeling overwhelmed and apprehensive. If this is your first DUI charge in Connecticut, you are likely unfamiliar with the criminal justice process in Connecticut courts. If this is your second, third, or fourth DUI charge, you are likely concerned about the serious penalties that Connecticut courts impose on DUI offenders. Below you will find some of the best defense strategies for combating DUI charges in Connecticut. 

Legal Defenses to a Connecticut DUI Charge

Sometimes, the best DUI defense strategy is to use a legal defense. Connecticut courts have developed legal defenses based on common law precedent. In other words, over the years, the courts have determined different legal defenses that are available to all defendants. One of these legal defenses is duress. If someone forced you to drive while under the influence of alcohol, you can use the defense of duress.

Police Misconduct or Constitutional Violations

Law enforcement is bound to adhere to the Constitution when they carry out searches and seizures. The Constitutional guarantees every person the right to a fair and speedy trial. It protects defendants against illegal searches and seizures for evidence.

For example, if a police officer pulled over a defendant without a reasonable suspicion that the driver was intoxicated, a judge might throw out any evidence gathered at the motor vehicle stop because the stop and search were unconstitutional. Most DUI charges happen as a result of a traffic stop, but, in many cases, law enforcement make critical constitutional errors during the stop. Judges are required to suppress evidence that comes from an illegal traffic stop. 

Or, if law enforcement did not read you your Miranda rights before arresting you, a court might throw out any evidence gathered as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” For example, without hearing his Miranda rights, a driver might not know that he has a right to hire an attorney for his defense. 

At the Red Law Firm, we have helped thousands of clients fight their criminal charges. We have an in-depth knowledge of the common mistakes that law enforcement make. When law enforcement make unconstitutional errors, we know how to use these errors to convince the prosecution to drop the charges, or to convince the judge to dismiss the criminal charge. 

The Prosecution Cannot Prove the Defendant’s Guilt

In order to convict a defendant of a DUI in Connecticut, the state prosecutor must prove that the defendant was driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The prosecution must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. One of the most basic elements that a prosecutor must prove is that the defendant was actually driving a motor vehicle. 

In many cases, defense lawyers attempt to prove that the defendant was not really driving a vehicle. At the Red Law Firm, we consider all of the following to see whether or not we can make a defense based on our client not actually driving a motor vehicle when the arrest happened:

  • The location of the vehicle when law enforcement made the arrest
  • Whether or not the keys were in the ignition during the arrest
  • Whether or not the vehicle was on and running at the time of the arrest
  • Whether or not the vehicle was operable
  • Whether or not the defendant was conscious at the time of the arrest

For example, if the defendant was passed out and unconscious when the police officer found him or her, and the car was turned on but parked in a parking lot, the jury might not convict the defendant. If, on the other hand, the driver was stopped at a stoplight while passed out, the jury will likely consider him or her to be operating a motor vehicle.

Challenging the “Under the Influence” Element

Prosecutors must prove that the driver could not safely operate a motor vehicle at the time of the arrest. The inability to drive the motor vehicle must stem from consuming alcohol. A jury must find that the defendant’s ability to drive was negatively affected by alcohol consumption beyond a reasonable doubt. 

When a defendant could safely operate a vehicle, the prosecution will have a difficult time proving that the defendant was unable to safely operate the vehicle. For example, when the defendant could drive without weaving, swerving, varying his or her speed, or showing any other signs of impairment, these facts will likely give the jury the reasonable doubt they need. 

When law enforcement pulls the defendant over for speeding and charges them with a DUI, the defense often makes this argument. Speeding does not always indicate that the driver was operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. 

Challenge the Test Result

One of the best defenses to a DUI is to challenge the blood or breath test that led to the conviction. Defendants can challenge the administration of a blood, breath, or urine test given by law enforcement. In some cases, law enforcement does not have the proper training to administer these tests. Or, law enforcement might have failed to properly maintain or clean the machine. In other cases, the labs that process the tests make mistakes or incorrectly measure the defendant’s blood-alcohol level. For example, sometimes substances that are already in the machine can become mistaken for alcohol molecules and cause a false test result. 

Getting Help for Your Connecticut DUI Defense

Every DUI case is unique. At the Red Law Firm, we evaluate all of the circumstances in our clients’ cases. We develop a unique defense strategy that is tailored to the facts. If you are facing a Connecticut DUI charge, it is important that you speak to an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Red Law Firm as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation and learn how we can fight for your rights.

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The Impact of COVID on Criminal Defense in New Haven

the impact of covid on criminal defense in new haven

When people are quarantined due to coronavirus (COVID-19), there is a greater likelihood of criminal activity increasing, particularly domestic violence. At the same time, Connecticut courts have limited their availability in a way that will directly impact criminal defense in New Haven. The situation is developing incredibly quickly, and it is difficult to understand all of the ways in which the criminal defense process will be affected by COVID-19.

The Connecticut Judicial Branch recently created a website that provides updates regarding COVID-19. At the Red Law Firm, our criminal defense lawyers are here to help you. If you are facing criminal charges during the coronavirus pandemic, you need an experienced legal team on your side. Contact our law firm as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation and discuss how we can fight for your rights. 

Coronavirus is Negatively Impacting the Residents of Connecticut in a Big Way

The spread of coronavirus has impacted criminal defense in New Haven, Connecticut. Nearly 500 Americans have died as a result of coronavirus and 11,500 people in Connecticut have tested positive for the illness. Connecticut’s governor has extended the mandatory shutdown of Connecticut to May 20. All non-essential businesses must remain closed for another six weeks. Restaurants, bars, retail stores, gyms, and other establishments must remain closed through May 20. 

Connecticut Court Closures Due to COVID

The Connecticut Judicial Branch has reduced its days of operation and closed some courthouses. The court is attempting to protect the public as well as their staff from the spread of coronavirus. The Office of the Appellate Clerk has gone to reduced hours. Additionally, all remaining courts will become closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays until further notice. 

Additionally, all Ansonia-Milford and Middlesex Judicial District Courthouses have been temporarily closed as of April 1, 2020. Cases that these courts would normally hear have been transferred to the New Britain Judicial District courthouse. Cases from the Stamford Courthouse will become transferred to Fairfield Judicial District Courthouse. 

Only Certain People can Enter Courthouses During the Coronavirus Pandemic

As of March 26, 2020, only the following people can enter Connecticut courthouses, including individuals who are:

  • Filing or have a hearing for a Temporary Restraining Order
  • Filing of having a hearing for a Civil Protection Order
  • Filing or have a hearing on an Emergency Ex Parte Motion for child custody, or
  • Are involved in a criminal arraignment or another criminal proceeding

This means that if you are involved in a criminal proceeding or your criminal arrangement has been scheduled, you will still be going through those processes. Nonetheless, you should expect delays because only 15 court locations remain open. These locations are now responsible for handling cases from all of the courts that have shut down. Many courthouse staff members are currently working from home, making communication more challenging. 

Sentence Review and Criminal Trials Have Also Been Postponed

If you are undergoing a sentence review of your criminal conviction, the review will be postponed until either April, May, or June. Additionally, Connecticut courts have postponed jury trials. However, jury trials that are currently in progress will continue. Additionally, criminal jury trials that are necessitated by the filing and granting of speedy trial motions, and all other criminal trials have been suspended until further notice. 

Not All Criminal Trials Have Been Postponed

Connecticut courts will only hear certain priority cases. Courts will continue to schedule and hear the following Priority 1 matters until further notice:

  • Juvenile Detention hearings
  • Criminal arraignments for defendants held in lieu of bond 
  • All arraignments involved in domestic violence cases
  • Juvenile detention hearings
  • Family orders of relief from abuse
  • Civil orders of relief from abuse
  • Civil protection orders
  • Ex parte motions
  • Orders of temporary custody in Juvenile Matters
  • Orders to appear in Juvenile Matters
  • Emergency ex parte orders of temporary custody
  • Juvenile detention operations for detainees held for juvenile court
  • Hearings for termination of parental rights
  • Victim notification for domestic violence

If You are Serving a Criminal Sentence in Prison, We can Help

If you are currently serving time in jail after a criminal sentence, or you are awaiting trial, you still have constitutional rights. You are now exposed to coronavirus and may not be afforded necessary protection while in jail. One man has pleaded guilty to a crime and received a sentence of probation. However, he is still in prison until his hearing on April 14th due to a technicality. He has an underlying condition of asthma which makes it more dangerous for him should he contract coronavirus

Inmates in Connecticut correctional facilities are like sitting ducks waiting to contract coronavirus. If you are concerned about your safety while in prison, you can benefit from speaking to an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact the Red Law Firm as soon as possible to learn how we can help you fight for your rights while in prison. 

Contact Our Experienced New Haven Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

At the Red Law Firm, we understand how challenging and complicated it is to face criminal charges during coronavirus. We have decades of experience involving criminal defense, domestic matters, and motor vehicle accidents. If you are facing criminal charges during these uncertain times, you will benefit from a criminal defense lawyer who knows the legal process through and through. 

After evaluating your situation, we can advise you about what will happen next in the criminal justice process. If your case is considered a Priority 1 matter, the court will schedule and hear your matter. However, if your matter is not a priority 1, your case will be rescheduled until further notice. Our legal team can help you determine whether or not your case will continue to go on as normal. 

Additionally, we will fight hard to ensure that any delays due to the coronavirus pandemic will not infringe on your rights as a defendant. You deserve a fair trial and we are here to make sure that you experience a fair trial. Contact us as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation. We offer a 24/7 phone line for potential clients.