Effective October 1st, some 140 new statutes become law in Connecticut. Many of these statutes can be life-changing and affect the lives of you and loved ones throughout Connecticut CT.
Here is a brief summary of 19 of those new laws:
- Sexting law
Under a new law, minor children 12 years of age or less who possess or transmit child pornography can be arrested and prosecuted for a class A misdemeanor if the sender is under the age of 16 and the minor depicted is 17 or younger.
Previously, a minor could only be charged with this crime if the sender was 13-15 years of age and the subject shown in the picture or video and recipient were 13-17 years of age.
- Marriage and Divorce
Connecticut CT law no prohibits anyone who is 15 years of age or less from getting married under any circumstance, and minors who are 16 and 17 years of age can only get married if the probate court approves a petition filed by the minor's parent or guardian.
Previously, minors who were16 and 17 years of age only needed written consent from a parent or guardian, and court approval was unnecessary.
A non-adversarial divorce is allowed for couple married for 9 years or less with combined assets of $80,000 or less; the law used to be 8 years with property less than $35,000.
- Uber, Lyft and Taxi Laws
A new regulatory structure now exists for transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft. If Uber and Lyft want to continue to do business in Connecticut CT, the will now have to register with the Department of Transportation. Drivers will also have to get background checks and be subject to certain insurance requirements.
- Increased Domestic Violence Laws
Domestic violence law in Connecticut CT are now more severe in an effort to deter domestic violence throughout the state. Some expansion of the law includes the following
- Stalking now includes conduct that causes a reasonable person to suffer “emotional distress.”
- The law is now explicit in that 1st or 2nd-degree stalking can be charged when the accused uses electronic or social media to commit the offense.
- The law now expands the definition of strangulation to include“suffocation that occurs when a person obstructs another person's nose or mouth.”
- Increased penalties for violating the conditions of release for certain conduct.
- A presentence investigation or PSI is now required for anyone convicted of a family violence felony when a prison sentence may be imposed, and no longer allows for a PSI waiver.
- Hate Crimes
There are now increased penalties for hate crimes. \
- More than $10,000 in property damage form a hate crime is now a Class C felony punishable by 1-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 with a minimum fine of $3,000;
- Less than $10,000 in property damage is now a Class D felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
- Pregnant Women In the Workplace
More protections in the workplace now exist for pregnant women in the workplace.Unless the employer can prove that it would cause an undue hardship, employers must provide pregnant workers or applicants reasonable accommodation.
- Civil and Criminal Protections For Those Breaking Into Cars To Help Children
There are now protections from civil damages and criminal penalties for Samaritans who break into a vehicle in order to render emergency assistance to a child so long as there is a reasonable belief that the child needs medical assistance.
- Small Business Hotline
Eventually, there will be a small business hotline to help entrepreneurs and small business owners start a business, network and get information on state financial assistance programs.
- Nonprofits are Now Allowed To Sell Raffle Tickets Online
Certain qualified organizations can promote or sell raffle tickets online.
- Animal Shelter Registration
Animal shelters must now register with the Department of Agriculture and meet certain other requirements in order to do so.
- Civil Forfeiture Protections
Civil forfeiture allows the authorities to confiscate property seized from criminal defendants. Under new CT civil forfeiture law, police can now only seize property taken during a lawful search that results in an arrest.
- Contract Cancellations for Members of National Guard
Individual in the National Guard in active service for 90 or more can now lawfully cancel or back out of contracts entered into, such as gym memberships or cable service.
- Barbers and Hairdressers
Criminal history background checks are no longer required for barbers and hairdressers in order to apply for a state license.
- Eat Mushrooms At Your Own Risk From State Parks
Connecticut CT residents and visitors are allowed to pick mushrooms from state parks for personal use, but the state cannot be used for the resulting after-effects.
- Increased Penalties for False Incident Reports
We've all heard the proverb ‘Never cry wolf.' Now those who call in false reports requiring an emergency response will now have to pay restitution for the state and local resources used to respond.
- Farms Distilleries
Farms can now get a distillery permit to manufacture, sell and distribute booze. The allowance is up to 10,000 gallons of alcohol or spirits annually. Another restriction is that 25% or more of the crops used in the distilling process must be locally sourced from the farm.
- Police Cellular Site Simulators
Under “exigent” circumstances, police are allowed to use a device that tracks one's phone data including their movements, intercepts communications or simulates a cell tower. “Exigent circumstances” is one exception to the 4th Amendment where a warrant when evidence of a crime would otherwise dissipate if police had to get a warrant.
Police can apply for an ex parte order that allows for this kind of surveillance for up to two weeks or up to 48 hours without a court order. Now there are written standards police must follow in order for its lawful use.
- Gold Star Parent and Spouse Property Tax Exemption Option
Municipalities can now opt in for a property tax exemption to any parent or surviving spouse of a member of the military killed in action for up to $20,000 or 10 percent of a property's assessed value.
- Ransomware Penalties
Extortion by means of computer ransomware is now a class E felony. Ransomware is a computer program built by cybercriminals that seizes computer or network data, so that you no longer have access to it. Then the cybercriminal will hold that data hostage unless you pay (usually using bitcoin) to get it back.
- New Opioid Prescription Laws
Under new opioid law, all prescriptions controlled substances must be done electronically. This data can be shared with state agencies and seemingly, there will now be task force to monitor the doctors who over-prescribe or fraudulent prescription in the wake of our national opioid epidemic. Doctors must now discuss the potential for abuse with all patients as well---makes sense.