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Chattanooga Criminal Defense and Family Law Blog

Don't let your assets waltz away after your Tennessee divorce

Anyone who has worked hard to provide a good life for his or her family deserves to know that his or her efforts were not in vain. Unfortunately, when a marriage breaks up it can be hard to predict what will happen to all the assets you've accumulated during a divorce. 

There are no guarantees in life, ever (except death and taxes, as we all know), but that doesn't mean one shouldn't try to make the best of a situation. If knowledge is power, then consider arming yourself with some information about property division in Tennessee before going to court, or working towards an agreement.

Protecting your rights under arrest

Certain situations in life are inherently stressful. For instance, job interviews, getting married and public speaking tend to raise people's stress levels somewhat. There's one thing that typically ranks high on most people's lists of stressful experiences in life, and that's getting arrested. If you've ever been pulled over in a traffic stop in Tennessee or were involved in some other incident that resulted in police showing up and asking questions, you likely understand how such situations cause anxiety levels to soar.

As with most urgent predicaments, it helps to remain calm and think clearly when faced with an imminent problem like getting arrested. First of all, just because you're charged with a crime doesn't necessarily mean you're going to jail. Understanding the criminal justice process and knowing your own rights ahead of time can help prevent anxiety should you wind up being told to place your hands behind your back so a police officer can apply handcuffs.

The significant impact of domestic assault violations

If you are facing allegations or charges of domestic assault, you may be overwhelmed with the potential criminal penalties you face. While this is a normal response, you must also consider how a conviction could affect other areas of your life. In addition to time behind bars and other penalties, the effect of these serious allegations can have a long-reaching impact into other personal and important matters.

Warrantless blood tests deemed unconstitutional

Most people have a casual familiarity with the experience of being pulled over by police and being arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. If the experience isn't first hand, chances are they have seen representations of it on television. The accused may be asked to participate in a field sobriety test, which often involves some sort of balancing act. They might be asked to take a breathalyzer test that involves blowing into a contraption meant to measure blood alcohol content. They might also be asked to submit to a blood test.

Putting DUI charges to the test

Increasingly, more people that have been pulled over have come to realize their rights in refusing field sobriety tests, which are less than scientific. Those who have very good balance may be able to pass these tests while under the influence, and some might not be able to pass them even if they don't have a drop of alcohol in their system. The wording of the law in many states has been to make it a criminal act to refuse either breathalyzer or blood tests, but three men from North Dakota and Minnesota challenged this thinking, and set out to have their DUI convictions reversed because they believed that the tests they felt they were forced to submit to violated their 4th Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure. The North Dakotans' objections were to the blood test. The Minnesotan disputed the breathalyzer. While neither state level Supreme Court found fault with the tests, the U.S. Supreme Court had a different opinion and ruled that while the impact on personal privacy was not enough to declare breathalyzer tests unconstitutional, the same was not true for blood tests. As a result of the ruling, the North Dakotans were able to have their convictions reversed, while the Minnesotan did not.

What are the penalties for DUI in Tennessee?

The penalty for DUI in Tennessee can vary depending on the number of DUI convictions a person has received. If an accident is involved the penalties will be higher. In addition, penalties increase if the person charged with DUI has a passenger under age 18 or vehicle assault, vehicle homicide occurs.

When a person receives a DUI conviction in Tennessee they can receive jail time, fines and license revocation. Furthermore, an individual may be ordered by the court to attend a drug and alcohol program. The judge can order an Ignition Interlock Device to be installed at the person's expense as well. Additional costs and consequences may include bail, towing fees, attorney's fees, court costs, license reinstatement fees and higher insurance premiums.

Can I be charged with DUI while taking prescription medication?

It is becoming increasingly common that people charged with DUI were not drinking at all. In this day and age, more and more people are prescribed with prescription medications, particularly pain medications. They are taking this medication legally and as prescribed by their doctor and do not realized that if pulled over by a police officer, a DUI arrest could be the result.

Many wonder how this is possible, "I wasn't drinking!" However, in Tennessee, driving under the influence is not limited to alcohol. Under TN statute ยง 55-10-401, it is illegal for a person to be in "physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of any legal or illegal intoxicant." This includes any drug, controlled substance or alcohol that could impair the driver's ability to safely control the vehicle. It does not matter if the medication is being taken as directed by the prescribing doctor. What does matter, under the law, is the affect on the person taking the medication while driving.

Charged with a crime? How a lawyer can help

In order for justice to be done, a criminal defendant must have representation that can understand every variable that can come up in a case. This goes far beyond reading statutes and understanding court procedure. Every case can be different and a defendant representing him or herself may find their client at a great disadvantage.

People choose not to hire a defense attorney for various reasons, such as fear that a lawyer will make them look guilty, to avoid the costs of legal representation or the belief that a lawyer really can't do anything to help them. These deterrents are not true. One of the biggest mistakes a criminal defendant can make is not having a strong advocate to look out for his or her legal rights.

Can I expunge my criminal record in Tennessee?

Having your criminal record expunged can be advantageous in many ways including applying for college, improving your credit rating, helping you obtain employment and securing a raise or promotion. If you have been convicted of certain misdemeanors or Class E felonies, it is now possible to have your record expunged in Tennessee.

Due to the enactment of T.C.A. 40-32-101(g) in July 2012, you are allowed to have your record cleared in some circumstances and if certain criteria are met. Crimes eligible to be expunged include, but are not limited to, possession of drugs or paraphernalia, vandalism, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, theft, fraudulent insurance claims and forgery.

What is judicial diversion?

Being charged with a criminal offense can be a frightening experience, especially if it is your first-offense. Most likely, you feel overwhelmed and frightened about what your future will hold. You are faced with many questions like, Will I go to jail? What kind of punishment may I face? Will I lose my job?, and you may not know where to turn. The possible punishment you could face will depend on the crime you have been charged with. However, the good news is that as a first-time offender you may be eligible for judicial diversion.

First DUI charge, what to expect

Being arrested for the first time can be a very stressful and frightening experience. If you are facing your first driving under the influence/driving while intoxicated (DUI/DWI) charge, you may be feeling humiliated, unsure of what to do next and full of questions about your future. You want to know what to expect and what type of consequences you may face.

Even a first-time offense can have serious consequences and you should know about all possible penalties as well as your legal options. It is very important to contact a criminal law attorney to start building your defense as soon as possible.

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Law Office of Sam Byrd
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Chattanooga, TN 37415

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NCDD National College for DUI Defense: Samuel A Byrd