While getting charged with a crime is frightening for everyone, Tennessee residents who are facing criminal charges for the first time are often more frightened and feel overwhelmed. If you are facing a first-time offense, you are likely terrified about the possibility of jail or prison time, fines and other penalties.
If you've been charged with drunk driving in Tennessee, it may not be the best idea to plead guilty. Drunk driving convictions bring harsh penalties. Judges must hand down at least the mandatory minimum sentences called for in the state's law.
The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution gives people in Tennessee and across the country the right to a fair trial in criminal matters. Part of a fair trial is adequate representation. Whether the defendant has hired a lawyer or has had one appointed by the court, the lawyer is required to represent theh client adequately. While perfect representation is not required, a negligent or incompetent lawyer may so damage the client's opportunity for a fair trial that the court may throw out a guilty verdict or order other relief.
Motorists in Tennessee and other states with implied consent laws may discover that refusing to submit to blood alcohol concentration testing could affect their lives for years. Implied consent laws mean that motorists automatically agree to blood, urine, breath and other forms of BAC testing when they are pulled over by authorities. Those who decline to participate in testing at the request of law enforcement officials could receive license suspensions.
Tennessee residents might wonder why plea bargains are allowed in criminal cases. Plea bargaining has been an accepted practice in the U.S. criminal justice system for decades. The process serves several purposes and can provide benefits to all of the parties who are involved.
Most criminal matters in Tennessee require that a defendant has a mental state at the time of the offense called mens rea. In Latin, mens rea means a guilty mind. The mens rea element must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order for a person to be convicted of the offense in crimes for which it is required.
A record number of people were exonerated of crimes they did not commit in 2015 and were freed from prison. It could very well be that some inmates currently incarcerated in Tennessee were wrongfully convicted, as mistakes are more common than many people realize.
Tennessee residents will likely have read media reports of individuals who have spent years in prison for crimes that in actuality they did not commit. Many of them are astonished to discover that innocent individuals had often been convicted after making false confessions to police officers, but psychologists who have studied law enforcement methods say that this is not surprising. They say that false confessions are often extracted from vulnerable suspects using a controversial tactic known as the Reid Technique.
People in Tennessee may not realize that in some cases, intoxication can be used as a defense to criminal charges. While being under the influence of alcohol is not usually a valid defense, if people are intoxicated without their knowledge, it might be. This is known as involuntary intoxication, and intoxication can also be considered involuntary if a person is forced or coerced to drink.
Tennessee residents may know that individuals charged with a crime can be candid with their attorneys safe in the knowledge that the matters discussed will be considered privileged and cannot be subsequently introduced in court against them. While the protection that covers communication between those accused of committing crimes and their lawyers may be the most widely recognized type of legal privilege, there are a number of other forms of protected communication.