Making the Law Work for You
Hartford Connecticut Criminal Defense Firm
Principal Practice Areas
Other areas of practice
Free Case Evaluation
Connecticut Criminal Defense Cases
Hartford Connecticut Legal Cases involving Criminal Defense
All criminal cases require an intent to commit the crime the defendant is charged with. This requirement—the so-called "mens rea" component of every criminal case—is a cornerstone of all criminal jurisprudence. Thus, in most CT criminal cases, it prevents the accidental or merely negligent act from being treated as a criminal prosecution. Thus, a citizen who carries a gun that is accidentally discharged is treated differently from a murderer-for-hire, to give one simplistic example. Similarly, a defendant who believes that physical force is necessary to protect himself may raise the defense of justification. Again, state of mind is a determining factor in deciding guilt.
John Smith (name changed to protect confidentiality) was a Hartford resident who was enjoying some time in a city park when he was attacked by a youth gang. John customarily carried a handgun, which he fired in self-defense, resulting in the death of one of his attackers.
At his trial on charges of murder John admitted the shooting but testified that he did not intend to kill his attacker. If he was guilty of anything, he argued, he was guilty of the greatly lesser offense of manslaughter where intent to murder was not an element of the offense.
To prove the difficult issue of state of mind (a matter particularly difficult to show since there are no witnesses), testimony was introduced from a city priest who had known and mentored John Smith for many years. He told the jury that he believed that John was incapable of forming the intent to commit murder.
At the conclusion of the criminal case, the jury deliberated for nearly two days before finding John Smith guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter but not guilty of the much greater offense of first-degree murder. This favorable outcome was due in large part to Spinella & Associates’ introduction and implementation of innovative expert testimony on the issue of intent.