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Recent Blog Posts

Issues with First Step Act Leaves Thousands of Qualified Inmates Sitting in Prisons

 Posted on August 16,2022 in Criminal Defense

Knoxville criminal defense attorneyIn 2018, the federal government passed the First Step Act into law. Under the law, eligible inmates would be able to obtain an early release if they were deemed a low or minimum risk of reoffending. The goal of the law was to reduce recidivism rates, address racial disparities (particularly with drug offenses), and ease the federal prison population. But four years later, the law seems to be stalled as thousands of prisoners who should have been released are still locked up.

The First Step Act

In addition to the early release provision, there were a number of other changes included in the First Step Act:

  • Allowed more flexibility for courts when facing mandatory minimum offenses
  • Allowed inmates to be placed in facilities as close to their homes (within 500 miles) to their homes when possible
  • Increased education and job training programs

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Defending Against Federal DUI Charges

 Posted on July 26,2022 in Criminal Defense

Knoxville DUI defense lawyerWhen people talk about DUI charges and the potential consequences of a conviction, they are usually referencing state DUI charges. Every state, including Tennessee, has passed its own laws when it comes to the consequences of driving under the influence will be.

However, many people do not realize that if they are caught driving under the influence on federal property, they can be charged with a federal DUI and a conviction can have even direr consequences than state charges.

Federal Jurisdiction

There are a number of federally-owned locations where a driver can suddenly find themselves pulled over for driving under the influence. These include:

  • Airports
  • Buildings and parking lots owned by the federal government
  • Courthouses
  • Military bases and forts
  • National forests and parks

In Tennessee, one of the most common locations people are arrested for drunk driving are on lands that fall under the National Park Service (NPS), including the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Cherokee National Forest, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A day enjoying the beauty of nature can quickly turn into a legal nightmare if a visitor to one of these areas is accused of DUI.

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New Truth in Sentencing Law Now in Effect in Tennessee

 Posted on July 12,2022 in Criminal Defense

Knoxville criminal defense lawyerTypically, twice a year, any new laws that the Tennessee legislators have passed go into effect – on January 1st and July 1st. This July is no different. One of the most significant new criminal justice system laws that went into effect was the Truth in Sentencing (HB 2656) law that passed that addresses violent crime convictions.

Full Sentence

Many convicted defendants who receive incarceration as part of their sentence are often able to earn reduced time off for good behavior while in prison. The average prisoner can earn up to 54 days off for each year they are in prison. However, that all changes for anyone convicted of a violent crime in Tennessee. The Truth in Sentencing law is just that – such a defendant will now have to serve 100 percent of their sentence with no opportunity for earning reduced time.

The law identifies the following violent crimes where the defendant must serve their entire sentence:

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What Constitutes Stalking in Tennessee?

 Posted on June 17,2022 in Domestic Violence

Knoxville criminal defense lawyerAllegations of stalking can lead to serious legal consequences. Since many stalking allegation cases involve two parties that are known to each other or have had a close past relationship, understanding the definition of stalking can feel challenging. Sometimes, stalking can occur with no malice, including checking up on someone you are worried about or was a past romantic partner. Other times, stalking and harassment can be made as a direct threat to another person's wellbeing. Understanding how the Tennessee government defines and charges stalking can provide insight into the type of behaviors that are unacceptable in a court of law.

How Tennessee Defines Stalking 

Each state's statutes differ and can define crimes differently. Tennessee has strict stalking and harassment laws. According to the Tennessee statute on stalking, there are three categories of stalking allegations — stalking, aggravated stalking, and especially aggravated stalking. 

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Defending Against Criminal Charges as a College Student

 Posted on June 10,2022 in Criminal Defense

Knoxville college student criminal defense lawyerThe most important thing to focus on during your college education is ensuring excellent grades and taking the time to learn about a future career. Unfortunately, college can also lead to trouble as students experiment, party, and explore newfound freedom. Spending countless hours in the library and studying with friends can quickly feel like a waste if a college student finds themselves with a criminal charge during college. Although criminal records are serious, there are various ways to navigate the future with the help of a skilled attorney

Common Charges for College Students

If you are a college student that has been charged with a criminal offense, you may feel isolated, embarrassed, or alone. However, it is not uncommon for young adults to find legal trouble during college.

Typical charges on college campuses include:

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BUI Charges: What to Know About Drinking and Boating in Tennessee

 Posted on May 11,2022 in DUI/DWI/BUI

Knoxville boating under the influence attorneyAs summer approaches, many Knox County residents are eager to make their vacation plans. Whether you are planning travels to new states or countries or are prepping for backyard barbecues with friends and family at home, there are many rules to remember to stay safe this summer — especially if you plan to go boating. A sunny boat day may be the perfect way to kick off summer for many Tennesseans, so reviewing the state laws for drinking and boating is essential. Just like driving a car, operating a boat comes with strict drinking laws to keep everyone safe for the summer.

Review of Drinking and Boating Laws

Drinking and boating laws are similar to drinking and driving laws. Although it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in your car, it is legal to drink on a boat. Like driving, any individual operating the boat must remain within the legal alcohol limit, a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, of 0.08 percent in Tennessee. Any BAC over the 0.08 percent threshold is over the legal limit and can be grounds for a BUI offense. Boaters in Tennessee give their implied consent to have their BAC tested.

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Five Frequently Asked Questions about Domestic Violence Cases in Tennessee

 Posted on May 05,2022 in Domestic Violence

Knoxville domestic violence defense lawyerDomestic violence is defined as a series of patterned, abusive behaviors against a partner or family member. These patterns can range from physical violence to emotional and mental abuse. In Tennessee, domestic violence and abuse include intentionally inflicting physical harm or pain or threatening to inflict harm on a spouse, partner, or family member. Understanding the differences between domestic violence and other violent charges can be confusing, and those accused of violent crimes may feel unsure about their next steps. Here are five frequently asked questions about handling a domestic violence accusation in Tennessee.

How Common is Domestic Violence in Tennessee?

According to a 2021 report from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, there were 69,385 criminal offenses linked to or reported as domestic violence cases in the state in 2020. Between 2019 and 2020, domestic violence cases rose by approximately 2.6%. The report states that most domestic violence cases in Tennessee were between boyfriends and girlfriends.

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Defenses to Drug Charges in Tennessee

 Posted on April 21,2022 in Drug Crimes

Knoxville Drug Defense AttorneyWhether you have been charged with possession of drugs for personal use or the intent to sell, a skilled criminal law attorney can determine what defense strategy may work for your situation. Although every case has a different set of circumstances, there are some common defenses that an attorney can use to defend their client against these charges, such as procedural errors or challenging evidence the prosecution wants to introduce to the court. The following are some of the most common defenses.

The Drugs Belong to Another Person

A common defense is that the drugs were not yours or that you had no idea they were in the car or house. Your attorney may be able to introduce evidence to cast reasonable doubt to the jury that the drugs were actually yours.

Crime Lab Analysis

Although a drug might look like meth, does not mean that it is meth. The prosecutor must be able to show that a seized substance is the drug it claims to be by sending it to a crime lab and having it tested. The analyst must then appear at the trial to testify and present their findings. Depending on the circumstances, your attorney may be able to challenge those findings. One example would be evidence that there was an issue in the chain of custody, causing contamination.

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Tennessee Lawmakers Consider Mandatory Reporting of Drug Overdoses by Health Care Providers

 Posted on April 14,2022 in Drug Crimes

Knox County criminal defense attorneyThe opioid epidemic is killing approximately 70,000 people each year in the United States. It is estimated that each year, there are more than 1.5 million people who struggle with addiction. For many who are addicted, once they cannot get legitimate prescription medications, they often turn to heroin. Every year, more than 50,000 people use heroin for the first time and every year, more than 14,000 people die from heroin overdoses.

While many states have passed laws that are more sympathetic for addicts who commit crimes, focusing more on treatment over punishment, that does not seem to be the case in Tennessee as lawmakers consider a bill that would require all health care providers to notify police of anyone they treat for a drug overdose.

SB 1891

According to wording in the bill, anyone who is “called to tender aid to persons” who are suffering a drug overdose would be required to report that overdose to either the police chief or sheriff of the area treatment was provided. In addition, the health care provider must also report that the individual who suffered the overdose to the District Attorney General’s Office.

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Defending Against Breathalyzer Test Results in a Tennessee DUI Case

 Posted on March 27,2022 in DUI/DWI/BUI

Knoxville DUI defense lawyerOne of the most common pieces of evidence used by prosecutors in DUI cases is the result of the defendant’s breathalyzer test. However, a skilled Knox County defense attorney knows that it is not uncommon for breathalyzers to give false readings. While breathalyzer testing is more accurate than other subjective field sobriety tests, breathalyzer tests can still be incorrect or inaccurate.

Breathalyzer Testing

When you are pulled over and the police officer has probable cause that you have been drinking, the officer can administer a breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer test is a chemical test that assesses how much alcohol vapor is on the breath of the individual taking the test. This data generally correlates to an individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level.

Tennessee is an implied consent state, meaning that by accepting a driver’s license that grants them the right to operate a vehicle, a driver automatically consents to be subjected to chemical testing when suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. Individuals do have a right to refuse a breathalyzer test, but there are steep consequences for refusal.

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