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June 2015 Archives

Understanding defense options after a 2nd drunk driving arrest

A first-time drunk driving arrest can result in serious penalties, including jail time and loss of driving privileges. When a Tennessee driver is arrested for drunk driving a second time, the potential penalties are more serious and can have a long-term impact on the future, including employment opportunities. While these penalties are serious, the correct defense strategy may be successful in challenging the prosecution's case. 

Expert Testimony Must be Relevant to be Admissible

Qualified expert testimony may be admissible by either side in a criminal trial in Tennessee when the trial court determines it may substantially assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or deciding a material issue. When determining whether scientific evidence is reliable enough to be of assistance, trial courts in Tennessee consider how the evidence has been tested, whether it has been subject to peer review, whether a rate of error is known, and whether it is generally accepted in the scientific community. It of course also must be relevant to be of assistance to the trier of fact. In the recent case of State v. Adams, M2014-00501-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 6-19-2015), the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a trial court ruling disallowing a DUI defendant's offered expert testimony concerning the effect of freon contamination of the blood on a preservative used to preserve a blood sample for testing alcohol content.

Fighting drunk driving with new technology

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just unveiled a device that may lower the overall number of drunk drivers. This new device is designed to prevent drunk driving by monitoring the driver's blood alcohol levels through non-invasive means. Although the device is not available to the public, it is hoped that the new technology will decrease the number of alcohol-related deaths each year.

Aggravated Sexual Battery No Longer a Lesser Included of Rape of a Child

The crime of 'sexual battery' in Tennessee differs from the crime of 'rape' in that sexual battery only requires 'sexual contact' and rape requires 'sexual penetration.' These terms are defined by statute. 'Sexual contact' requires that the contact be for the purpose of 'sexual gratification.' 'Sexual penetration' does not require such a purpose. Even though sexual battery requires proof of a fact (a purpose of sexual gratification) that rape does not, it was for a number of years considered a lesser included offense of rape, under case law developed to define lesser included offenses. However, in 2009, the state legislature enacted a statute defining lesser included offenses. The Court of Criminal Appeals has interpreted this statute as departing significantly from prior law. In the recent case of State v Ortega, M2014-01042-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 4-23-2015), the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed and dismissed a conviction of aggravated sexual battery (as a lesser included offense), concluding it has not been a lesser included offense of rape of a child since July 2009.

Tennessee woman facing repeat DUI charge after buzzed driving

A woman was recently arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) for a particularly bizarre reason. The driver, who is currently facing repeat DUI charges, was taken to a local hospital after she crashed her car into a mailbox. The officers who responded to the accident noted that she was acting disoriented at the time of the incident.

Woman found sleeping in her car charged with drunk driving

A woman was arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) after Tennessee law enforcement found her sleeping in her car. A police officer noticed the woman sitting in her car, asleep, at a local gas station. The woman reportedly displayed signs of intoxication, including difficulty speaking clearly. She was arrested for drunk driving after she refused to submit to a blood alcohol test. 

Arrested for bringing medical marijuana into Tennessee? Your prescription won't provide a defense.

In many states, people with certain medical conditions can legally buy and possess marijuana to treat their condition. Unfortunately, medical marijuana laws vary from state to state. If you bring medical marijuana in a state that does not sanction its use, your prescription won't provide a defense.

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