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Knoxville criminal defense for College ArrestsAutumn is now in full force in Tennessee and that means lots of fun and exciting events for students at the University of Tennessee. Rush week, Halloween parties, football games, Homecoming, and Thanksgiving all provide opportunities to get together with friends and enjoy downtime from the rigors of studying and exams. Unfortunately, those fun times can also provide situations where a college student finds themselves in legal trouble, facing arrest and criminal charges.  

While there are a wide variety of different charges that a person may be arrested for, there are certain criminal charges that seem to be common ones among college students. If your young adult child has been charged with any of the following crimes, it is important to contact a Knox County defense attorney for legal assistance.

Underage Drinking

Drinking and college seem to go together, but the National Minimum Drinking Age Act set the legal drinking age at 21 years of age. Despite that law, many students under 21 do partake in activities that involve drinking. Binge drinking is a serious and common problem, with about 600,000 college students suffering injuries due to heavy drinking each year.

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Knoxville criminal defense for Social Media CrimesSocial media is known for its viral challenges. Some have been for a good cause – such as the Ice Bucket Challenge a few years ago that generated about $15 million for The ALS Association – while others can be dangerous. Some of the more dangerous social media challenges over the past several years include the Tide pod challenge (where people ate the toxic detergent), the fire challenge (where people were doused with a flammable liquid and set on fire), and the sunburn tattoo challenge (place a stencil to cover a small portion of skin and then sit in the sun for hours). However, the latest social media challenge that has gone viral can result in minors facing criminal charges.

The Devious Licks Challenge

The devious licks challenge is the latest trend to go viral, thanks to the social media platform Tiktok. The challenge – also referred to as dastardly licks or diabolical licks – involves students damaging or stealing items from their schools and then posting videos of the act on Tiktok. In teen slang, the word “lick” in the challenge means a successful type of theft which provides the actor with an impressive payday.

The challenge is being taken up by middle school, high school, and even college students across the country who commit the vandalism, most commonly to school restrooms. Videos of missing soap dispensers, smashed floor tiles, and stolen urinals are showing up all over TikTok. Although the company is doing its best to quickly take down the posts, many of the videos are also shared on other social media sites. Many schools have been forced to keep student restrooms locked for most of the school day to help prevent destruction.

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Knoxville criminal defense for fraud chargesIn an attempt to help alleviate the financial hardships that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to many businesses, the federal government established multiple programs that provided financial assistance, including the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Unfortunately, while these programs did help prevent hundreds of thousands of companies from going out of business, they also created multiple opportunities for fraudulent claims. The U.S. Department of Justice is aggressively investigating and prosecuting these cases, as two Tennessee residents recently discovered.

U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Tennessee Announcements

In August, the DOJ’s Eastern District of Tennessee announced two separate cases of fraud connected to pandemic relief programs.

In one case, a Knoxville, TN woman pled guilty to one count of executing a wire fraud scheme. According to the announcement by the DOJ, the woman had applied for 10 loans, totaling $547,286 through the PPP and EIDL programs. These applications were submitted under companies that either did not exist or did not qualify for the loans. The woman submitted false records regarding the revenue the companies generated, the amount of employees she had, and the amount of payroll expenses the company had. She is scheduled to be sentenced in January 2022 and faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, supervised release of up to three years, and a fine of up to $250,000. The woman has agreed to pay restitution of $471,621.

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Knoxville criminal defense for 2021 laws changesJanuary 1 and July 1 are traditionally the dates that new laws go into effect in Tennessee and this year is no different. Tennessee lawmakers have been busy passing a wide array of new bills, many of them aimed at the criminal justice system. The following are some of the changes that everyone should be aware of, especially since they could affect what type of criminal charge and penalties an individual may be facing.

Constitutional Carry Law

One of the major changes is in Tennessee’s Constitutional Carry law. The new law means that residents who are 21 years of age or older will no longer have to apply for a permit or take safety courses in order to carry a handgun. The penalty for stealing a gun is harsher, however, since the crime will now be charged as a Class E felony. More details about this law can be found in a prior post our firm published, “Tennessee Passes New Permitless Gun Law.”

Spencer Bristol Act

Another law that increases the penalties for conviction involves evading arrest by foot. If the evading of arrest causes a law enforcement officer to suffer serious bodily injury, the charge is now a Class C felony. Conviction means three to 15 years in prison. If the officer dies from their injuries, the charge is a Class A felony, and conviction means 15 to 60 years in prison. The new law was named after Master Patrol Officer Spencer Bristol of the Hendersonville Police Department, who was struck and killed by a vehicle while chasing a suspect on foot.

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Knoxville criminal defense for Juvenile crimeGun violence has reached epidemic proportions around the country. Tragically, Knoxville has not been spared. So far this year, 22 victims have been shot to death. According to information released by the Knoxville Police Department, five of the victims were teenagers and, just as alarming, three of those accused of committing the murders are also teens.

Knoxville Community Involvement

Now that summer is here, the concern is that the violence will escalate since teens are out of school and have more time on their hands. This has led Knoxville officials to look for different ways to help minimize the violence and keep teens off the streets and out of trouble.

The city has partnered with 13 different community groups to employ teens from 12 to 21 years of age who have been identified as high risk for either perpetrating a violent crime or being a victim of one. High-risk youth are referred to as “opportunity youth.” Knoxville officials have awarded grants of between $3,000 to $20,000 to organizations that have developed programs that will introduce mentors to teens, teach them job skills, and provide activities that will keep them occupied.

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