STATE CRIMINAL CHARGES
DUI (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol)
Driving under the influence is committed where an individual "drive[s] or [is] in physical control of any automobile or other motor driven vehicle on any of the public roads and highways of this state, or on any streets or alleys, or while on the premises of any shopping center, trailer park or any apartment house complex, or any other premises which is generally frequented by the public at large, while . . . under the influence of any intoxicant, marijuana, narcotic drug, or drug producing stimulating effects on the central nervous system.
It is a crime in Tennessee for a person to knowingly manufacture a controlled substance; deliver a controlled substance; sell a controlled substance; or possess a controlled substance with intent to manufacture, deliver or sell such controlled substance. Controlled substances may include marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, steroids, certain medicines, and others.
The charge of Domestic Violence requires an assault and a "special relationship." Domestic violence is a misdemeanor in Tennessee and carries a sentence up to eleven (11) months and twenty nine (29) days at the Shelby County Correctional Facility A "domestic abuse victim" must be:
- Current or former spouses
- Individuals that live together or have lived together
- Individuals who date or have dated in the past
- Individuals who have had a sexual relationship
- Individuals related by blood or adoption
- Domestic violence may rise to the level of felony aggravated assault
Theft of Property
Someone is guilty of theft of property "if, with intent to deprive the owner of property, the person knowingly obtains or exercises control over the property without the owner's effective consent. Theft is graded as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of goods or services that are unlawfully obtained.
Kidnapping is the crime of taking a person against their will to an undisclosed location. This may be done for ransom or in furtherance of another crime, or in connection with a child custody dispute.
According to the laws of Tennessee, kidnapping is false imprisonment, under circumstances exposing the other person to substantial risk of bodily injury, and defines that a person commits the offense of false imprisonment when knowingly removes or confines another unlawfully so as to interfere substantially with the other's liberty. Kidnapping is a Class C felony and false imprisonment is a Class A misdemeanor.
Under Tennessee law, a person commits burglary when, without the effective consent of the property owner:
- Enters a building other than a habitation (or any portion thereof) not open to the public, with intent to commit a felony, theft or assault
- Remains concealed, with the intent to commit a felony, theft or assault, in a building
- Enters a building and commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft or assault
- Enters any freight or passenger car, automobile, truck, trailer, boat, airplane or other motor vehicle with intent to commit a felony, theft or assault or commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft or assault.
Aggravated Burglary: Aggravated burglary is burglary of a habitation. Especially aggravated burglary occurs where the victim suffers serious bodily injury. Tennessee law also prohibits the possession of burglary tools.
In Tennessee, a person commits criminal trespass who, knowing the person does not have the owner's effective consent to do so, enters or remains on property.
Aggravated Criminal Trespass: When someone intends, knows, or is reckless about whether such person's presence will cause fear for the safety of another.
Trespass by Motor Vehicle: Any person who drives, parks, stands, or otherwise operates a motor vehicle on, through or within a parking area, driving area or roadway located on privately owned property which is provided for use by patrons, customers or employees of business establishments upon such property, or adjoining property or for use otherwise in connection with activities conducted upon such property, or adjoining property, after such person has been requested or ordered to leave the property or to cease doing any of the foregoing actions" is guilty of the offense of trespass by motor vehicle.
Assault is to cause bodily injury, cause fear of bodily injury or offensive contact. Assault is a misdemeanor in Tennessee and carries a sentence up to eleven (11) months and twenty nine (29) days at the Shelby County Correctional Facility.
Aggravated Assault: Aggravated Assault is an assault that causes serious bodily injury or an assault with a deadly weapon. Aggravated Assault is a felony in Tennessee and can carry between two (2) to fifteen (15) years in the Tennessee Department of Corrections.
Robbery is the intentional theft of property from the person of another by violence or putting the person in fear.
Aggravated Robbery: Aggravated robbery is robbery that is "(1) Accomplished with a deadly weapon or by display of any article used or fashioned to lead the victim to reasonably believe it to be a deadly weapon; or (2) Where the victim suffers serious bodily injury.
Carjacking is the intentional or knowing taking of a motor vehicle from the possession of another by use of deadly weapon or force or intimidation.
Criminal homicide is the unlawful killing of another. Tennessee categorizes Homicides as follows:
• First Degree Murder:
- Premeditated and intentional killing of another
- Killing of another in the perpetration or attempt of a felony
- First degree murder is punished by Life, Life without the possibility of parole, or death
• Second Degree Murder: Second Degree Murder is the knowing killing of another. Second Degree Murder carries a sentence between fifteen (15) and sixty (60) years at the Tennessee Department of Corrections.
• Voluntary Manslaughter: Often called a "heat of passion" homicide, Voluntary Manslaughter is the intentional or knowing killing of another in a state of passion produced by an adequate provocation sufficient to lead a reasonable person to act in an irrational manner. VM is a C felony in Tennessee and carries three (3) to fifteen (15) years in the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole. This crime is a probation eligible crime.
• Reckless Homicide: Reckless homicide is a homicide caused by "reckless" behavior. Reckless Homicide is a D felony in Tennessee and carries two (2) to twelve (12) years in the Tennessee Department of Corrections.
• Criminally Negligent Homicide: Criminally Negligent Homicide is a homicide that results from Criminally Negligent behavior. CNH is an E felony and carries one (1) to six (6) years at the Tennessee Department of Corrections. CNH is a probation and parole eligible crime.
Prostitution is defined as engaging in, or offering to engage in, sexual activity as a business or being an inmate in a house of prostitution or loitering in a public place for the purpose of being hired to engage in sexual activity.
Child abuse or neglect is inflicting injury or adversely affecting the child's health and welfare or endangers a child or fails to protect a child.
- Child abuse or neglect of a child under the age of 18 is an A Misdemeanor.
- Child abuse or neglect of a child under eight (8) years of age is a D felony and carries two (2) to twelve (12) years in the Tennessee Department of Corrections
Aggravated Child Abuse/Neglect: Aggravated Child Abuse or Neglect is the abuse or neglect of a child where serious bodily injury occurs or a deadly weapon, dangerous instrument or a controlled substance is used to accomplish the act of abuse, neglect or endangerment. Aggravated Child Abuse/Neglect is also the especially heinous, atrocious or cruel abuse, neglect or endangerment or the infliction of torture on the victim.
There are a number of laws restricting or banning the possession of weapons and/or firearms.
- Prohibited weapons include: An explosive or explosive weapon; a device designed or adapted to shoot an explosive weapon; a machine gun; a short barrel rifle or sawed off shotgun; a firearm silencer; switchblade; brass knuckles or any other item used for the infliction of serious bodily injury or death that has no lawful purpose.
- Prohibited weapon crimes range from A misdemeanors to B felonies and carry prison sentences from eleven (11) months twenty-nine (29) days to thirty (30) years in prison.
- Unlawful sale: It is unlawful to sell, loan or make a gift of a firearm or switchblade knife to a minor. It is unlawful to sell a firearm or ammunition to an intoxicated person
- It is illegal to carry a firearm during judicial proceedings
- It is illegal to carry or possess a weapon in public if not properly licensed
- It is an E felony to possess a weapon or ammunition if convicted of a crime. Being a felon in possession of a handgun is an E felony and carries one (1) to six (6) years. There is also federal exposure to being a convicted felon in possession of a hand gun
- It is illegal to carry a weapon on school property, public parks, playgrounds and civic centers
- An adult may be prosecuted if they know their minor child is in possession of a firearm
- Possession or employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony carries consecutive jail time to any conviction for a dangerous felony.
If a defendant is convicted after a trial, they are entitled to an Appeal as of Right to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. An appeal is not a retrial of the case. An appeal is an examination and review of any errors committed at the trial level. Appeals start with a Motion for New Trial and Notice of Appeal. Next the transcript of the trial is reviewed and an Appellate Brief is written. An Appellate Brief is a review of the facts developed at trial, the errors that occurred at trial and a legal argument why the defendant is entitled to specific relief such as a dismissal, a new trial or a lighter sentence. A couple more thoughts on Appeals
- The appeals process takes a very long time – often years for the Appellate Draft to be written, oral argument heard and a written decision to be handed down.
- Many Appellate cases are resolved on the Appellate Briefs. However, as a practice I like to request oral argument. Oral argument is presenting you argument to the panel of Appellate judges. If the defendant is in custody, he is not entitled to appear at oral argument
- Appeals are legal arguments to a panel of judges – they are not emotional arguments to a jury
- Unless a defendant is convicted of First Degree Murder and receives the death penalty, an appeal to the Supreme Court of Tennessee is by permission of the court – it is not an appeal as of right.
Expunging Criminal Records
Expungement is the process by which a record of criminal conviction and/or arrest are removed by order of the court. The expunged records are deemed not to exist and the person who is the subject of the records may deny their existence, however, they may be sued to impeach them or as character evidence in future proceedings.
Driving While License Suspended/Revoked/Cancelled (DWLSRC)
DWLSRC out numbers all other criminal charges combined. A first offense DWLSRC is a B misdemeanor and carries a maximum six months at the Shelby County Correctional Facility (Penal Farm). A second or subsequent DWLSRC is an A misdemeanor and carries a maximum of eleven (11) months and twenty-nine (29) days at the Penal Farm. DWLRSC can be a qualifying conviction for Habitual Motor Vehicle Driver Offender status.
Back to Top