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July 2015 Archives

What are the options for those arrested for underage drinking?

When a young person makes a mistake that could lead to legal trouble, it is vital to understand how to respond to the situation in order to protect his or her future. Charges of underage drinking can ruin a reputation, compromise career opportunities and even affect college admission. Fortunately, a knowledgeable Tennessee DUI defense lawyer can shield a minor against the repercussions of such serious problems. 

Consent to Examine Mobile Phone Was Valid

Consent is one of the specific exceptions to the general requirement that law enforcement authorities must have a valid search warrant prior to a constitutional search (where there is also a reasonable expectation of privacy). Under Tennessee law, a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of the person's cell phone in his or her possession (an abandoned phone may be a different story). A police officer may only search the contents of the phone if there is a valid search warrant to do so or if one of the recognized exceptions to the warrant requirement is present. In the recent case of State v. Kohlmeyer, M2014-01359-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 7-7-2015), the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a trial court decision that an examination of the defendant's cell phone was valid, due to the defendant having consented to it.

Tennessee football player arrested for drunk driving

Charles Mosely, a freshman Tennessee football player, was recently arrested for drunk driving. He was charged with a DUI after police pulled him over for driving too fast in a 55 mph zone. According to the report, the smell of marijuana was present in his vehicle, but he denied smoking the substance himself. A DUI charge can encompass both drunk driving or drugged driving.

Crimes Targeting Different Victims are Never Incidental

A single criminal case may include different victims, multiple victims, and/or multiple offenses. This can complicate the analysis of double jeopardy questions and due process when attempting to distinguish which convictions should merge and which are separate offenses. For example, Tennessee courts in recent years have been attempting to answer the question of whether a kidnapping can ever be incidental to a robbery, rape or assault when the kidnapping conviction relates to a different victim than the robbery, rape or assault. Different panels of the Court of Criminal Appeals had arrived at different conclusions. The state Supreme Court has, this week, settled the question with the ruling that offenses involving specific victims can never be 'incidental' to each other when they apply to different victims.

Tennessee has stiff penalties for drunk driving

In Tennessee, a conviction of driving while intoxicated will remain on your permanent criminal record without possibility for expungement. This can prove quite difficult for persons who are attempting to start over and seek better life circumstances. Potential employers, various institutions and other individuals are able to view your record upon request. Seeing a drunk driving conviction there could limit your potential for future opportunities and success.

Law enforcement to combat drunk driving over holiday weekend

Tennessee law enforcement is preparing to increase vigilance over the course of the Independence Day holiday weekend. It is hoped that the increase in DUI enforcement will dissuade drivers from getting behind the wheel while impaired. This will be done with additional checkpoints set up throughout the state to monitor drivers. If an individual is suspected of drunk driving, he or she must submit to a breath test or be subjected to a blood test.

Conviction Affirmed Despite Use of Evidence of Other Crimes

Generally, evidence of other crimes or bad acts is not admissible in a criminal trial in Tennessee when its only purpose would be to prove conforming conduct (under the reasoning that a jury should consider only the offense charged and not other bad things the accused may have done). However, it may admissible if relevant for other reasons ... such as to establish motive, a common scheme or plan, identity, or absence of mistake or accident. Upon request by the objecting party, a trial court should hold a jury out hearing to determine the admissibility of the evidence in question. In the recent case of State v. Grimes, W2014-00786-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 6-26-2015), the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, in a split decision, affirmed a conviction for aggravated sexual battery despite the introduction of evidence of other crimes or bad acts not charged in the indictment and which occurred outside the jurisdiction of the trial court.

A failed sobriety test will lead to arrest, even for boaters

During the summer months, there is usually an increase in drunk driving arrests as more people are driving and traveling. However, Tennessee readers should note that not only will drunk driving result in an arrest, but drunk boating will as well. In fact, authorities will be patrolling waterways over the summer, executing sobriety tests for boaters who are suspected to be drunk. As on land, a failed sobriety test on the water will lead to an arrest. 

First-Time DUI: Can You Keep It Off Your Record?

One of the most serious consequences of a DUI conviction is a lifetime criminal record. If you plead guilty to the charges, anyone who looks up your criminal record in the future will see that you have a conviction for drunk driving. It could affect your employment, professional licensing and other areas of your life that involve background checks.

First-Time DUI: Can You Keep It Off Your Record?

One of the most serious consequences of a DUI conviction is a lifetime criminal record. If you plead guilty to the charges, anyone who looks up your criminal record in the future will see that you have a conviction for drunk driving. It could affect your employment, professional licensing and other areas of your life that involve background checks.

Accuracy of Thirteenth Juror Ruling is Not Reviewable

The concept of the "thirteenth juror" rule in Tennessee criminal law refers to the trial court judge's responsibility to consider the weight of the evidence from a criminal trial after the jury has returned a guilty verdict. If the judge then disagrees that the weight of the evidence supports that guilty verdict, the judge, as "thirteenth juror," must grant the defendant a new trial (with a different judge). This is actually just a unique and specialized role of the trial court judge and does not mean the judge is part of the jury. In addition, as noted in the recent case of State v. Stewart, M2014-00074-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 5-22-2015), the accuracy of the judge's decision as "thirteenth juror" is not reviewable on appeal (though statements in the record indicating the judge misconstrued the authority granted by the rule could result in appellate relief).

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