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September 2015 Archives

Exigent Circumstances Argument Rejected in Blood Draw Case

Exigent circumstances is one of the exceptions to the requirement that a search be authorized by a warrant to be considered reasonable. But exigent circumstances arguments to draw blood without a warrant when a person is suspected of driving under the influence have been often rejected since the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Missouri v. McNeely in 2013 (determining that the dissipation of alcohol in the blood over time did not create exigent circumstances when it was still reasonable to obtain a warrant). In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Cates, E2014-01322-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 9-28-2015), the Court of Criminal Appeals has again reversed a warrantless blood draw.

Local government takes more steps to fight drunk driving

Shelby County just got a substantial amount of money to fight drunk driving. Tennessee residents who live in the area should be aware of these new measures, as well as their rights if arrested for DUI. Government representatives have said that much of the money will go toward paying for overtime for law enforcement. With this new grant, there will more police officers in the area monitoring for signs of suspected drunk driving.

Tennessee driver faces drunk driving charges for the second time

A Tennessee man was recently arrested for alleged drunk driving after causing an accident. Upon arriving at the scene of the accident, police arrested the man for drunk driving because of certain indicators, as well as the statements of the other person involved in the accident. The young driver stated that when checking on the defendant, he supposedly admitted to drinking and consuming certain medications. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the accident. 

Closing Argument Not a 'Golden Rule' Violation

Closing argument in a criminal trial is an opportunity for each side to summarize evidence and a theory of the case. Closing argument is an important part of the trial and the last opportunity each side has to directly address the jury about the evidence and theories. Though Tennessee courts do not want to unduly restrict these arguments, attorneys still must conduct them professionally and consistently with the principles of a fair trial. In the recent case of State v. Sanders, M2014-02535-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 9-18-15), the Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the contention that a prosecutor's closing argument was a violation of the 'golden rule.'

Woman charged with drunk driving, endangering unrestrained child

In Tennessee, drunk driving penalties escalate as the number of prior offenses increases. While a person who is charged with a first drunk driving offense has a reasonable chance of escaping jail time, this becomes virtually impossible for a conviction of a second, third or fourth offense. Furthermore, although the crime is a misdemeanor, it becomes a felony on the fourth offense.

Warrantless Search Ruled Unlawful

A warrantless search is presumed unreasonable. It may be reasonable and lawful though if one or more recognized exceptions apply. The prosecution has the burden of proving a recognized exception if the warrantless search is contested. One important exception is consent. People on probation often, as a condition of being on probation, sign a form consenting to the "any time" search of their residence. However, federal and Tennessee law still requires at least reasonable suspicion of criminal activity for one of these "any time" residential searches to occur.

University of Tennessee freshman faces underage drinking charges

A football player who is a freshman at the University of Tennessee was recently arrested by Knoxville authorities. A police report indicates that the 18-year-old student was found on Interstate 40 early on a recent Sunday. He was reportedly running around the Interstate, and police officers said they had reason to believe he was guilty of public intoxication and underage drinking violations.

Breach of Plea Agreement Results in New Sentencing Hearing

Most criminal cases are resolved by plea agreement rather than trial. Plea agreements are a critical part of the judicial process. Given the temporal and financial resources expended for a jury trial (including the time expended by court staff, judges, attorneys, jurors, and witnesses), it is not possible for all criminal charges to involve a trial. In most cases, prosecutors and defense counsel can evaluate the available evidence and arrive at a reasonable plea bargain which both satisfies the interests of the state and offers the defendant enough incentive to waive his or her trial rights. Defendants who enter a plea agreement must be able to rely on the promises made in exchange for the agreed plea.

DUI campaign issued in Tennessee to crack down on drunk driving

With Labor Day just around the corner, Tennessee residents are likely already making their plans for the long holiday weekend. Many have already taken off work, bought hot dogs and hamburgers to grill and are preparing for a fun-filled weekend. It also likely means that many people will be purchasing alcohol, which typically leads to an increase in intoxicated drivers on the road – whether intentionally or not – and the potential for drunk driving charges.

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