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August 2015 Archives

Appellate Court Reverses Denial of Judicial Diversion

Judicial diversion is a sentencing option available to a court in criminal cases in Tennessee for first time offenders and certain eligible offenses. It allows an eligible defendant to avoid a formal conviction if the defendant complies with certain terms and conditions and successfully completes a probationary period of time. The decision of whether to grant or deny judicial diversion is a decision to be made by the sentencing court. But the decision must be made within the confines of established law, and specific factors established by legal precedent. In the recent case of State . Gobble, E2014-01596-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 8-12-2015), the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals reversed a trial court denial of judicial diversion because the trial court based its decision on an irrelevant (and impermissible) consideration.

Mother of toddler faces drunk driving charge in Tennessee

Being accused of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol can lead to long-lasting, negative effects in the personal and professional lives of those involved. A recent Tennessee case involves a woman who was traveling with her young child in her car. After being stopped by police, she now faces a drunk driving charge in court.

Statements Made for Medical Treatment Admissible

Statements made for medical treatment and/or diagnosis, even though made out of court, are an exception to Tennessee's exclusionary hearsay rule and are generally admissible if relevant and not excluded for some other evidentiary reason. This of course does not mean that the fact finder in a criminal trial is required to believe the veracity of the statements. It just means the statements can be considered for whatever weight the trier of fact elects to attribute to them. In the recent case of State v. Howard, E2014-01510-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 8-4-2015), the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a challenge to the admissibility of statements contained in a medical record in which a child described acts of sexual abuse inflicted upon her.

John McAfee facing drunk driving charges in Tennessee

John McAfee, the eccentric software developer, was recently arrested in Tennessee and charged with driving under the influence. He is known for his anti-virus software, which made him millions. After allegedly losing most of his fortune and a series of legal issues, he recently located to Tennessee. Following his arrest, he was also charged with possession of a handgun while under the influence, as well as drunk driving.

Man faces vehicular homicide charges in Tennessee

A wreck recently occurred in Tennessee, leaving one person dead and two injured. Police said the crash was the result of drunken driving. The man believed to have been driving while intoxicated, and therefore causing the accident, now faces charges of vehicular homicide.

Inaccurate Election of Offenses Not Plain Error in This Case

Election of offenses in a criminal trial refers to a prosecutor's duty, in a case where there was evidence at trial of multiple separate incidents which might meet the elements of the charged offense, to elect, for each count, upon which specific incident the jury should deliberate to determine guilt of that count. The purpose of this is to protect a defendant's right to a unanimous verdict in determining whether the defendant's conduct on a specific occasion meets the elements of a particular charged offense (rather than having some jurors evaluating the events of one occasion and other jurors evaluating the events of another instead). In the recent case of State v. Knowles, W2013-00503-SC-R11-CD (Tenn. 7-31-2015), the Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed a conviction for rape of a child, despite a clearly inaccurate election of offenses.

What does a failed sobriety test mean for your future?

An arrest for drunk driving can lead to a series of unfortunate consequences, including time in jail, fines and other penalties. If convicted of drunk driving, the defendant may find that it affects employment, reputation and may also impact other various areas of life. For many Tennessee individuals who are arrested for drunk driving, the trouble begins with a failed sobriety test.

Child Neglect Conviction Overturnd for Insufficient Evidence

In Tennessee, child neglect is the crime of failing to take proper care of a child for whom the accused had a duty to provide care, when the neglect results in harm to the child. It is distinguished from child abuse in that for the crime of neglect, the accused does not have to have actually inflicted the harm to the child, but does have to have failed to act to prevent the harm when the accused had a legal duty of care. In the recent case of State v. Higgins, M2014-01171-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 7-27-2015), the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed a conviction for aggravated child neglect because the State had not proven that the defendant in that case had a legal duty of care to the injured child.

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