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Nashville Criminal Defense Blog

Senator: AG's pronouncement on criminal sentencing out of touch

It goes without saying that the political reality that daily plays out on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures across the country is marked far more by partisanship and rancor these days than it is by any shared sense of purpose or camaraderie.

Still, there are a few areas where agreement exists and where many voices from across the political spectrum are sounding in unison, with one of them stressing a materially important topic in the criminal justice sphere.

America's swelling prison population: a ticking time bomb?

There is no dearth of evidence to suggest that an ever-growing number of Tennessee residents and other Americans across the country are strongly favoring efforts to materially reform the country's criminal justice system in a manner that better promotes equity and drives down costs.

Pundits routinely report that. And news articles regularly point to a strong coming together of bipartisan support -- lacking for many years -- that is collectively sounding a clarion call for sentencing adjustments that simply make more sense than often seems to be the case.

Are you walking into trouble if you talk to police on the street?

Let's say you and your friends go to a party in Tennessee. You just finished finals, and are eager for a little rest and relaxation. As is common on the college scene, the party may have gotten a bit out of hand, a fight broke out, and you decides it's best to hit the pavement before the matter escalates. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that you and your date had a little altercation of your own an hour or so earlier. You figured you'd give your date time to sleep it off, and things would be better in the morning.

However, to your shock and dismay, as you exit the house where the party was hosted, you get a block or two down the street (maybe on your way to your car) and are suddenly and unexpectedly approached by two people who appear to be uniformed police officers. For some reason you feel nervous and afraid, even though you know you didn't do anything wrong.

How should Nashville police have responded to judge's request?

When the below-cited incident occurred last year, those involved likely never considered that it would blow up to writ-large proportions, result in the resignation of a Nashville General Sessions judge and bring about a fair amount of criticism for the city's police chief.

Nonetheless, all that did come to pass, with the repercussions still being felt and the matter continuing to play out in the media.

Not the first time: why criminal suspects need proven defense help

Fundamentally erroneous assumption: that every individual locked away in a state or federal prison in the United States is guilty of the crime they were charged with.

Sadly, we know that is not the case and that, indeed, innocent people in Tennessee and across the country languish -- sometimes for decades or even a lifetime -- behind bars after being wrongfully convicted for criminal activity that, quite simply, they never engaged in.

By numerous measuring sticks, this criminal law program is abysmal

A recent national news focus on the federal government's civil asset forfeiture program states that its main objective "is to disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises."

By all indications, though, what special IRS agents seem to be most excelling as is not undermining the unlawful operations of groups like drug cartels and organized prostitution rings but, rather, hassling mom-and-pop businesses across the country as they go about their daily activities in good faith.

Reserving judgment in domestic abuse cases until they're proven

Here's a clear reality underscoring prosecutorial misconduct in a criminal case in Tennessee or elsewhere: there is no upside for an innocently accused party.

And that obviously applies across the entire spectrum of alleged criminal conduct, although it can easily be argued that a victim of official misconduct can easily be harmed in an especially outsized way when he -- and sometimes she -- is wrongfully stated to have committed one or more acts of domestic violence. Personal linkage with such a crime can bring grievous ruin to a career, to friendships and to a hard-earned reputation in one's local community.

Viewpoint: White collar crime sentencing often misses the mark

The writer of a recent opinion letter inked for a national media publication would likely nod in instant agreement with comments we prominently make on our criminal defense website at the long-established Law Offices of Thomas T. Overton in Nashville.

We note therein that "a conviction for a white collar crime can have devastating effects on your personal and professional life."

Implied consent in Tennessee: what does it mean for me?

Once arrested for suspected drunk driving, you have already agreed to submit to a chemical test -- whether you realize it or not. By applying for and receiving a driver's license in the state of Tennessee, you have agreed to a test of your breath, blood or urine if ordered by a law enforcement officer.

You technically have the right to refuse a chemical test for suspected DUI, but that decision could come at a steep cost. If you refuse, you will still face arrest and could lose your license for an extended period of time. If you have previously refused a breath test, your loss of driving privileges could last longer. 

Do you care if law enforcers know where you bank and shop?

Historically, Americans have collectively been more than a bit protective in safeguarding what they regard as fundamental personal liberties.

Put this way: It's not the state's business where you go to church -- or even if you go at all. No law enforcer should ever have the right to detain and ask you questions of any sort without first having probable cause for doing so (a reasonable suspicion that you have committed an illegal act).

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