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Criminal Defense Archives

The Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination

Tennessee residents will likely know that criminal defendants 'take the Fifth" when they invoke their constitutional right against self-incrimination. The Fifth Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights, and it states that individuals cannot be compelled to testify against themselves. Suspects can invoke their right against self-incrimination at any time from the moment they are taken into custody until their trials are concluded.

What happens when people are charged for the first time?

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.

Adequate representation required by Sixth Amendment

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.

Implied consent laws can have numerous ramifications

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.

Mens rea in criminal cases

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.

Controversial police technique linked to false confessions

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.

A defense of involuntary intoxication

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.