Criminal Convictions Can Negatively Impact Child Custody Rights
A state court in Connecticut surprised many earlier this summer by allowing a parent charged with a serious criminal offense — hiring a hit man to kill her husband — to plead guilty to a lesser offense and retain custody of her child.
The Stevens Case
In the Connecticut case, Tiffany Stevens was charged with attempted murder for allegedly hiring a hit man to kill her husband at a time when they were involved in a bitter dispute over custody of their daughter.
Her case was tried in Superior Court in Hartford, and prosecutors presented evidence showing that Ms. Stevens had paid a handyman $5,000 to kill her husband. However, instead of killing Mr. Stevens, the handyman told her ex-spouse of the alleged plot.
In her defense, Ms. Stevens’ attorney argued that her husband and the handyman had conspired to frame Ms. Stevens in order to obtain custody of their daughter. The defense also challenged the credibility of the two men.
The trial ended in a mistrial in December, 2014 when the jury deadlocked on the charge of attempted murder. Ms. Stevens subsequently agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of inciting injury to persons, and she was sentenced to a 10-year suspended prison sentence and five years of probation. During the trial, Ms. Stevens won a ruling from a family court judge allowing her to have custody of her daughter which was not altered by the plea agreement.
State Law on Inciting Injury and Child Custody
A closer look at the charges and child custody in Connecticut suggests that the outcome was fair and appropriate.
Ms. Stevens pled guilty to inciting injury to another person. This charge would require prosecutors to prove that she had advocated, encouraged or solicited an assault on her husband. These charges are difficult to prove because the defendant typically claims that his or her speech is protected by the Constitution. The charge is considered a Class C felony in Connecticut, which means that a person convicted of this charge could face a prison sentence of one to 10 years, plus a fine of up $10,000. However, judges in Connecticut also have authority to suspend all or part of sentence, and this is exactly what the judge did in this case.
Camden County Criminal Lawyer, Jill R. Cohen, Represents Clients Charged with Criminal Offenses
Camden County criminal lawyer, Jill R. Cohen, provides zealous representation for people charged with criminal offenses. From her Westmont offices, she defends people in courts throughout New Jersey and in Philadelphia, fighting to ensure that those accused of assault, DWI, sex crimes, robbery, traffic violations and other offenses have their stories heard. For a free consultation, call or contact us online.