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Knox County federal crimes attorneyNational parks across the United States offer expansive stretches of land full of wildlife and beauty galore. As inviting as national parks are, you are not welcome to enter a park without understanding and adhering to the rules and regulations of the park. 

For instance, in the Tennessee-based parts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there are certain laws that you must abide by in order to explore all that the park has to offer. If you fail to uphold the legal expectations while in the park, you can run the risk of being charged with a federal crime

But what is a federal crime? And what are the laws you must respect when enjoying your time at Great Smoky Mountains National Park? 

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Knox County criminal defense atTennessee can be quite a lovely state to visit around the holidays. Whether you are returning home to visit your family or vacationing with friends, your plans almost certainly do not include being arrested. However, situations have a way of getting out of control during what can be a stressful time of year, and visitors to our state do occasionally end up visiting our jails. If this has happened to you, it is of the utmost importance that you do not leave the state without having retained counsel to address the charges. Failure to handle your case in Tennessee can result in a warrant being issued that could get you arrested back home as well. 

How Does Being From Out of State Affect Bond?

Before you can even think about returning home, you will need to get yourself released from jail. This may be a little more difficult for an out-of-state visitor than for a Tennessee resident. The purpose of bond is to guarantee that a defendant will show up to answer for his charges. The idea is that you pay money to the court, and get most of it back when your case concludes. Courts may fear that if they release an out-of-state visitor without a substantial bond, they are likely to return to their home state and never come back. This can result in substantially higher bonds. 

Typically, people out on bond cannot leave the state. With the assistance of an attorney and perhaps a bondsman, you may be able to return home while your case is pending. Always speak with an attorney before leaving Tennessee.

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Knoxville Criminal Defense AttorneyWhen you own a business, there are a myriad of issues and responsibilities you need to keep abreast of in order to be successful. According to federal and state laws, that also includes making sure that no criminal activity is taking place at your business. Failure to do so could result in criminal charges being brought against you. This is what recently happened to one nightclub owner and two of his managers when they were all convicted by a federal jury of managing drug premises, conspiracy to manage drug premises, and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. 

Details of the Convictions

According to federal prosecutors, the owner ran several popular nightclubs. Prosecutors alleged in their case that one reason for that popularity was that the defendant allowed drug dealers to sell cocaine in the bathrooms of the clubs, resulting in an increase in the clubs’ revenue of between $9 to $12 million. The jury was told that because the owner knew what was going on but continued to allow it because he was profiting by the increased business at his clubs, he was guilty of managing drug premises, along with the other charges. The jury agreed.

Part of the evidence federal prosecutors presented in the case included 17 controlled drug buys at several of the clubs of informants – who were all under the supervision of the FBI – purchasing bags of cocaine from drug dealers who were selling the drugs out of club bathrooms.

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Knox County criminal defense attorneyThere are two clauses in the U.S. Constitution that specifically prohibits governments from retroactively changing punishments for a crime that was previously committed. This clause also bars a government from changing the rules of evidence in a case or punishing conduct that was legal at the time it was committed. These laws are referred to as Ex Post Facto and according to a recent ruling by a federal judge, the state of Tennessee is in violation of this clause for how they have continued to enforce retroactive punishments against sex offenders, including some whose crimes took place decades before the Tennessee sex offender registry law went into effect.  

Federal Lawsuit

In her recent ruling, the judge ordered the removal of eight different men from the state’s sex offender registry list, as well as ordering the state to stop imposing restrictions on what these men can and cannot do, accusing the state of “flouting the Constitution’s guarantees.”

The state’s lawyers argued that the eight men should be kept on the registry in order to prevent future offenses and for the protection of the public. However, in her ruling, the judge pointed out that the state failed to provide any evidence that any of the men posed a threat to the public.

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Knoxville assault charges defense lawyerIn today’s society, there are all kinds of incidents that can end up escalating into violent confrontations. When this happens, law enforcement may treat at least one of the parties involved as the aggressor. Police do not always arrest the right person in these situations, and they may fail to further investigate the circumstances of the incident.

There are different levels of assault a person can be charged with in Tennessee, with each level carrying different penalties if a person is convicted. If you have been charged with assault, a Union County defense attorney can help.

Simple Assault

Under Tennessee law, a person commits simple assault if any of the following factors exist:

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Knoxville criminal defense for ExpungementIn Tennessee, just like in every other state in the country, the legal drinking age is 21. While it is against the law for anyone under 21 to consume or possess alcohol, the reality is that many do. This is especially true when it comes to college and social life. However, the criminal justice system takes underage drinking seriously and anyone under 21 who is caught with alcohol, especially in drinking and driving situations, faces especially harsh penalties.

Legal BAC in Tennessee

Under Tennessee law, anyone who is 21 years of age or older who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent is considered legally drunk. However, for anyone under the age of 21, the legal limit is much lower and DUI charges may apply if a person has a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher.

Penalties for Underage DUI

While the penalties for underage DUI may not be as harsh as adult DUI penalties, they still leave a permanent mark on the individual’s criminal record. For drivers who are under 18, the matter is deemed a delinquent act. If the driver is between 18 to 20, the crime is charged as a misdemeanor. Penalties for both categories are the same:

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Knoxville criminal defense for ExpungementArrest reports in Tennessee have a new line item that has been added to them. This information lets a person who has been arrested know that in some cases, the charges they face can be expunged from public records. An expungement basically erases all public records of an arrest. Under some circumstances, one may even be granted to expunge any records of a conviction. To find out if you could qualify for an expungement, consider speaking with a Knoxville defense attorney.

Notification of Expungement Possibility

The new information was added to arrest reports as of July 1st under a new law. Many defendants are unaware that they may be able to have their arrests expunged if they meet certain criteria.

Under Tennessee law, in order to petition for an expungement, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. These include:

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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 drug crimesAccording to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), approximately 80 percent of crimes in Tennessee are in some way connected to drugs. Tennessee has some of the harshest penalties for drug crimes in the country. Even a charge like simple possession can result in jail time if you are convicted. Anyone who has been charged with a drug offense should contact a Knoxville defense attorney for help in defending against the charges.

Serious Drug Issues

The TBI also estimates that at any given time, there are 800 or more methamphetamine labs in operation in the state. Although the use of methamphetamine has decreased, the use of heroin has spiked again. Even more alarming is that the heroin being sold in Tennessee is often laced with fentanyl, a dangerous and powerful synthetic opioid that is supposed to only be prescribed to patients dealing with severe pain. Pure fentanyl is so powerful and so dangerous that it can kill a person if even just a small amount is absorbed through the skin.

Prescription drug use is also a criminal issue in the state. Tennessee ranks third in the U.S. for prescription drug abuse. In recent studies, more than 70 percent of participants admitted to using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons that they obtained from a family member or friend. People who become addicted to these drugs often find themselves facing some kind of criminal charges for drug-related crimes, often convicted and sentenced to jail.

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Knoxville criminal defense for those Accused of Domestic ViolenceThe statistics of domestic violence are alarming. It is estimated that one in four women and one in seven men will experience domestic violence. In Tennessee, almost half of all crimes are domestic violence related. Tennessee also ranks in the top 10 states in the U.S. for women killed by men.

In an effort to help combat these numbers, Tennessee lawmakers have passed a new bill that will require all licensed beauty professionals in the state to undergo one hour of anti-domestic violence training.

HB 120/SB 216

Similar beauty professional domestic violence training laws have been enacted in a handful of states already. The relationship between a beauty professional and a client is often an intimate one, with clients having the comfort level of sharing personal information with the professional. In many domestic violence situations, the abuser has isolated the victim from their friends and family, yet still allows the victim to visit their hair salon, nail salon, barber, etc. That professional may be one of the only outside contacts the victim has.

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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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know county defense lawyerOn April 20th of this year, two teenage brothers were found dead in their Roane County, TN home. According to law enforcement, the teens, aged 19- and 17-years old, had a variety of drugs on them and it was determined both died from a lethal dose of fentanyl in pill form. Last week, police arrested a Rockwood, Tennessee couple, charging them with two counts of second-degree murder in the brothers’ death. The couple has also been charged with reckless endangerment, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia, money laundering, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a felony.

Death By Distribution

Tennessee, just like at least 20 other states in the country, has enacted a death by distribution/drug-induced homicide law. Under Tennessee’s death by distribution law, an individual can be charged with second-degree murder if they sell or give someone fentanyl or carfentanil either alone or in combination with any controlled substance (per the Tennessee Drug Control Act of 1989) and that person dies because of those drugs.

When a person is charged with death by distribution, the prosecutor does not have to prove the individual acted with malice; they only need to prove that they supplied someone with the drugs that killed them.

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knoxville bui lawyerThe “official” start of summer is just weeks away and Knox County residents are busy making their summer plans. Included in many people’s plans are boating and personal watercraft activities. However, there is often alcohol consumption involved in those activities, and that consumption can result in the day ending in a boating under the influence (BUI) charge. A new BUI law was recently signed into law by the governor that now aligns penalties for BUI with the penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) in Tennessee.

State Offense

In Tennessee, just as in most states, the laws for drinking and operating a boat are similar to drinking and driving a vehicle. Any boat operator who has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more is considered over the legal limit and can be charged with BUI.

If you are charged with a BUI in Tennessee, it will typically be charged as a Class A misdemeanor. The penalties for conviction are:

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Union County federal criminal defense attorney for tax fraudThe deadline for filing 2020 income tax returns has just passed after the IRS extended this year’s date from April 15th to May 17th. While no one likes to pay taxes, federal law mandates who is and who is not required to pay federal income tax. Failure to report income and pay the taxes owed to the IRS can end up landing a person in prison on federal charges for tax fraud or tax avoidance. This is what happened recently to one Memphis, TN businessman.

Failure to Report

According to details released by the Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Tennessee, the 38-year-old man in this case failed to report most of the income he derived from a tax service company on his 2012 federal income tax return. Last month, a federal judge sentenced the man to eight months in federal prison, followed by seven months of home detention. He will also be required to serve one year of supervised release once his 15 months of in-custody time is completed. The man is also required to pay the IRS $124,000 in restitution.

The IRS can charge a person (or business) with tax fraud if they “willfully and intentionally” falsify tax return information in order to avoid or limit the amount they are required to pay in income taxes. Some of the reasons the IRS may cite as proof of tax fraud include:

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Anderson County criminal defense attorney for marijuana possessionThere are currently 36 states in this country that have passed laws that regulate cannabis for medical use. Tennessee is not included in that list of states, and a bill that would have decriminalized medical marijuana was narrowly defeated – 9 to 8 – by a Tennessee House committee last week. If passed, the law would have allowed people with certain medical conditions, upon approval by their doctor, to possess a limited amount of marijuana products without being charged for drug possession. The lawmakers who sponsored the bill say they are not giving up, despite statements by Gov. Bill Lee that he is opposed to any cannabis legalization, including for medical use.

Tennessee Marijuana Laws

According to polls conducted in the state, more than 80 percent of Tennessee voters support the right for patients and their doctors to be able to decide if medical marijuana is an appropriate treatment. Despite that overwhelming support, marijuana use remains illegal for both medical use and recreational use in the state.

Possession of any amount of marijuana is charged as a misdemeanor in the state. A conviction can mean up to 12 months in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. In 2016, both Memphis and Nashville passed local ordinances that gave law enforcement the discretion to charge a person with a civil infraction instead of a misdemeanor if they had a small amount of marijuana on them. The then-governor and state legislators quickly passed a law that repealed those ordinances.

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Blount County criminal defense attorney for DUIA Tennessee DUI conviction can lead to harsh consequences. Even a first offense conviction results in mandatory jail time. Under Tennessee law, anyone who is operating a vehicle and has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher can be found guilty of driving under the influence. Not only can a conviction result in the loss of driving privileges, but it can also have a significant impact on all areas of a person’s life, both personally and professionally. Anyone who has been arrested for DUI should contact a Knoxville criminal defense attorney immediately.

DUI First Offense

Under current law, a driver convicted of a first-offense DUI faces between 48 hours and 11 and 29 days months of mandatory jail time. Their license will be revoked for one year and they will be required by the court to participate in an alcohol and drug treatment program. They will also be required to pay a fine of between $350 and $1,500. When their license is finally reinstated, they will be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device installed at their own expense.

DUI Second Offense

A second-offense DUI conviction results in a minimum of 45 days to 11 months and 29 days in jail and fines of between $600 and $3,500. A loss of license will last for two years. A person must also attend an alcohol and drug treatment program and have an Ignition Interlock Device installed. The court may also order the seizure or forfeiture of their vehicle.

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Anderson County gun charges attorneyThe governor of Tennessee has just signed a new law that will allow adults to carry handguns without the need for training or a background check. They will not be required to obtain a permit for either open carry or concealed carry. There are currently 30 states that allow permitless open carry and 20 states that allow permitless concealed carry. At least a half dozen other states are considering similar legislation. The new law goes into effect July 1, 2021.

New Law

Under the new law, any adult 21 years of age or older will be allowed to carry either an open or concealed handgun without a permit. The law will also allow military members who are between the ages of 18 to 20 the same right. The current law requires Tennessee citizens to obtain a permit in order to carry a handgun. In order to get that permit, the applicant must go through required training, background checks, and fingerprinting. None of that will be necessary under the new law. The new law only applies to handguns. Permits will still be required for long guns.

While the new law does make it easier for adults to carry handguns, it also increases the penalties for certain gun crimes. For example, the theft of a firearm, which is currently charged as a misdemeanor, will now be charged as a felony. That means the penalty for conviction goes from a potential maximum 30-day sentence to a mandatory six-month jail sentence with no possibility of early release.

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