Lebanon Criminal Attorneys
Things to Keep in Mind About Criminal Defense Law
Many times law enforcement is certain that a particular crime has been committed by a defendant What is your response if there is not enough evidence to stand at the criminal trial?
There are two ways to go about that.
One is a law enforcement officer can prosecute for a criminal offense they have probable cause to believe occurred. Second, a private citizen who is injured in an automobile accident may sign a citation prosecuting the other individual for careless or reckless operation of a vehicle or a similar charge.
There is a higher burden of proof to convict an individual of a criminal offense. The charge must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. There is a lesser level of proof, called a preponderance of the evidence, required in civil courts
Even if a criminal conviction cannot be obtained, it is possible to be victorious in your personal injury case. It is preferable to have enough evidence to criminally convict since you are generally assured of having enough evidence to prevail in your civil matter.
How does Tennessee handle criminal investigations?
An officer must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is or has been committed before an individual can be questioned or restrained, according to the fourth amendment to the United States Constitution.
If an officer can find evidence to support an arrest, the accused is advised of Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to counsel. If the person chooses not to speak to the police officer, transport to a holding or booking facility follows. A magistrate will be presented with the case and then issue the arrest warrant if enough preliminary evidence is presented. A bond may be granted and a court date issued.
What is a plea bargain and how does it work?
A plea bargain allows a defendant to plead guilty to lesser charges with shorter penalties in exchange for saving the court from having to hold an expensive trial.
For instance, if an individual was charged with a second offense DUI—operating a motor vehicle while impaired for the second time—the minimum penalty for that offense is 45 days in jail in the state of Tennessee.
In a plea bargain, this may be changed to a DUI first offense. The defendant may receive two days in jail as opposed to the 45-day sentence. Defendants who know they are guilty and are aware of the amount of evidence against them generally opt for a plea bargain with its sure penalty, rather than pleading not guilty in court and risking punishment to the full extent of the law.
What are the most common mistakes your criminal clients make?
Number one is they allow officers to search them, or their vehicle or their home, without a warrant. Consenting to search is probably number one.
Number two is talking with officers instead of remaining silent. They will give statements when they should consult with a lawyer first.
We could solve so many problems for our clients if they simply would say no, you cannot search and no, I am not going to speak with you.
A common question often asked by those facing criminal charges is what would be the point in hiring a criminal defense attorney if you’re pleading guilty anyway?
That’s an excellent question because the majority of American citizens don’t understand their rights or the criminal justice process.
By going into a court of law unrepresented, you lose the opportunity to take advantage of procedures and rights that only criminal defense lawyers have knowledge of.
If you don’t have someone to advocate the best possible outcome for you, even if you plead guilty, negative things may happen that can never be undone.
For instance you may be eligible for a Tennessee diversion agreement whereby at the end of a certain period of time your case may be able dismissed and expunged from the record. If you do not have legal counsel, more likely than not, you will know about the availability of diversion.
That is just one of the many issues that arise for people who are unrepresented by legal counsel in criminal matters.
What sets accident and criminal defense law apart from other areas of law? What draws you to it?
I was formerly a police officer in Metro Nashville for about nine years. I have always been drawn to helping other people assert the rights that our government has granted to us by law.
So whether an individual has been hurt and needs to gain compensation, or a criminal charge has been filed against someone, we are intrigued by the challenges of both these issues. We have built our law practice around them.
Have significant laws passed recently that affect victims of accidents or those facing criminal charges?
The law is constantly changing. As recently as October 2008 the United States Supreme Court heard a case called Oregon v. Ice. This case may have a tremendous impact on consecutive and concurrent sentencing across the country, including Tennessee.
There are cases that we monitor daily to help us stay informed about the most recent changes in the law so we can provide the best possible representation for our clientele.
If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges contact the criminal defense law firm of Lowery, Lowery & Cherry to assist you with your legal needs.