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Nashville Criminal Defense Blog

Understanding domestic violence issues

As the holidays approach, many domestic violence hotlines report a spike in calls from people claiming abuse by their partners. Many have long believed that the stress of the holidays, closeness of family and the consumption of alcohol trigger these episodes. However, alcohol and stressful family reunions use may be only part of the problem.

If you are facing accusations of domestic abuse, you have a right to be concerned. The penalties for those convicted of domestic violence can be harsh, and the collateral damage to your life can be long-reaching. It may help you to understand some of the latest information on violence between partners.

What to say to authorities accusing you of homicide

People have a natural instinct to defend themselves when someone accuses them of wrongdoing. That often involves talking to the accusers. However, if you are facing criminal charges for homicide, you may want to rethink that instinctual response.

Saying anything could jeopardize your defense and your freedom. You already know that you don't have to say anything after an officer places you under arrest, but you may also want to remain silent even before that. Your rights under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution are yours to exercise when you wish, and it may be a good idea to do so sooner rather than later. The only thing you should tell law enforcement officers is that you wish to invoke your right to remain silent.

Marijuana laws remain strict in Tennessee

You may have read studies or heard friends discussing the merits of medical marijuana. You may also have your own experiences with recreational pot and wonder how it is any different from the social use of alcohol. While you may have valid arguments for using marijuana medically or recreationally, the fact remains that growing, possessing and using marijuana is still illegal in Tennessee.

While you may be among the many who were disappointed when Tennessee lawmakers withdrew the measure to legalize medical marijuana, the hope remains that the state will soon allow those suffering from certain ailments to find relief through the use of cannabis oil and other marijuana products. Until such measures pass, the state remains one of about 20 states that have not removed criminal penalties from the use of marijuana.

When rowdiness on campus leads to criminal charges

College life in Tennessee (or anywhere, for that matter) can be rewarding, adventurous and lots of fun. As you're likely aware if you've been in college for a year or more, it can also be quite academically, emotionally and socially challenging at times. The party scene is a typical part of college life. When you choose to participate, you may encounter various types of situations that require decisions on your part.  

Will you drink alcohol then drive? Will you smoke pot? Will you engage in an intimate encounter with someone you just met? It's no secret that the college party scene sometimes gets out of hand. You may show up to a party, get a little wild and before you know it, a tragic accident occurs, police arrive and you're wearing handcuffs on your way to jail. If the situation involves another person's fatal injury, you could wind up facing involuntary manslaughter charges if you're accused of contributing to the death.     

Has someone else's firearm left you facing weapons charges?

Facing serious criminal charges can have tremendous impacts on anyone's life. You may have found yourself in such a predicament before, and after dealing with the consequences that came along with the outcomes of your case, you may have intended to avoid such situations in the future. Of course, no one can predict the future, and you may have found yourself in another predicament in which you have been accused of a crime.

In particular, weapons charges can lead to steep punishments, and after a previous run in with the law, you may have been barred from owning or possessing a gun for any purpose. Though you certainly wanted to remain on the straight and narrow after getting your previous legal issues in order, you may once again face charges if authorities found a gun in your vicinity and believed it belonged to you.

What makes an assault aggravated?

Anytime the word "aggravated" is added to a criminal charge, it is because police have determined that the crime has elements that raise its level of seriousness. If authorities have charged you with aggravated assault, they must have felt the circumstances qualified you for the higher felony charge rather than a simple assault charge.

The charge of assault does not necessarily mean someone suffered physical injuries, but only that the victim feared for his or her safety. Aggravated assault almost always results in injury. Aggravated crimes are usually felonies, which means you face much more severe penalties for a conviction, including the possibility of months or years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. Avoiding these penalties may be a challenge best faced with the assistance of an experienced Tennessee attorney.

When police believe an accident is more than just an accident

Thousands of fatal accidents happen each year across the country, including many in Tennessee. Many of them are simply tragic accidents, but some are more than that. Upon conducting an investigation into a fatal crash, law enforcement officials may discover that certain factors make the accident a crime.

In those cases, the driver believed responsible could end up facing charges for vehicular homicide. The law characterizes this crime as negligent or dangerous driving that leads to another person's death. Essentially, a motor vehicle serves as the weapon in this particular crime. A number of different scenarios can lead to such a charge.

The problem with eyewitness testimony in homicide cases

Have you ever seen a person from across the room and thought it was someone you knew only to find out that it was someone else? That moment may simply cause you a bit of embarrassment, but that's it. You may have even had a good laugh with the person you mistook for someone else.

In that situation, no one got hurt. However, when a supposed eyewitness to a crime makes this sort of mistake, it can cost a person his or her freedom. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. Here's why.

Evidence and your criminal trial

Investigators may have told you that the evidence against you is overwhelming. They may have fingerprints, shoe prints, bloodstains or DNA that supposedly links you to the crime. They may tell you these things -- even show you a weapon or a lab report -- to convince you to confess or reveal more information about the alleged crime.

However, this isn't TV. Before any of that evidence appears before a jury, it must go through its own trial of sorts. You may be relieved to know that every piece of evidence police claim to have against you may not appear before a jury. There are rules investigators and prosecutors must follow concerning evidence, and these rules are to protect your rights.

Facing heroin-related charge? A strong criminal defense may help

Concerns have been raised about whether the drug laws in Tennessee, including those governing heroin-related crimes, are too strict. However, the laws are still on the books, and the reality is that if you face a drug crime accusation in the state, you can expect stiff penalties if a conviction happens in your case.

Fortunately, just because you face a heroin-related charge does not mean you are immediately guilty. Instead, the government has to prove your charge beyond a reasonable doubt before you can face a conviction, which leads to time behind bars and fines for both misdemeanors and felonies. The penalties might range from as few as six months in prison to 60 years behind bars, with fines potentially reaching half a million dollars.


Mark Scruggs, Trial Attorney
95 White Bridge Rd. Ste 508
Nashville, TN 37205

Phone: 615-988-4128
Fax: 615-356-6954
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