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Memphis Criminal Defense Law Blog

First-degree murder in Tennessee: A quick primer

All murder charges are serious matters since these are violent felony charges that involve a victim's death. The penalties for these charges are very serious. This means that anyone who is facing criminal charges in relation to a homicide should understand what they are up against.

In Tennessee, there are six types of homicide charges -- reckless homicide, criminally negligent homicide, voluntary manslaughter, vehicular homicide, second degree murder and first degree murder. Of these, first degree murder is the most serious. Here's what you need to know about this charge.

What are your Miranda Rights in Tennessee?

You were driving faster than you should have been, and you were pulled over. The officer claims you were traveling fast enough that he has to arrest you. He believes you're under the influence of alcohol or drugs based on a failed field sobriety test and your reckless driving.

You're taken into custody and go all the way to the police station. At that point, you realize that no one has given you your rights. Should they have?

Are you facing criminal charges because you defended yourself?

Crime is all too common in our country. People are victims of violent assaults, home invasions and robberies all the time. Occasionally, someone who would be a victim fights back. When that happens, it's possible for the victim of a crime to end up charged with one instead.

Maybe you used your hands, purse or feet to defend yourself by hitting an attacker. Maybe you feared for your life and defended yourself with a firearm. Whatever the scenario, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. You shouldn't speak to law enforcement without a lawyer.

Searching your home: There are limits on the police

You've been charged with a criminal act, but you want to know if the police really had the right to enter your home for the evidence they're using. There are a few times when the police do have a right to enter your home, which you should understand to decide if the police have violated the law.

When you explain your situation to your attorney, he or she can help you understand if your rights have been violated. If so, then the evidence that was collected may not be admissible in court. Here are four times when the police may enter your home or collect evidence on your property.

Do law enforcement actually read your Miranda rights?

Anyone who's ever watched a procedural law enforcement or court drama can likely recite the Miranda rights statement. Every person who is facing arrest in the United States is protected by certain rights. These rights include the right to stay silent when questioned by law enforcement and the right to an attorney.

These rights are universal, which means that they apply to every person under arrest in the United States. It is common for a police officer to advise you of your Miranda rights at the time of your arrest. In other cases, law enforcement may not tell you them until you're actually questioned.

When can police enter my home without a search warrant?

Many people mistakenly believe that the only way law enforcement can enter and search their home is with a search warrant. Unfortunately, that is not the case. There are a number of situations in which law enforcement can enter and search your home or vehicle without your consent or a warrant. If you believe that law enforcement violated your right against unreasonable search and seizure, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. An attorney can review the details of the search and your arrest to determine if police violated your civil rights during the process.

Have you been subjected to unlawful search and seizure?

The U.S. Constitution makes it unlawful for law enforcement officers to conduct searches and seizures without following legal protocol. If police perform a search and seizure unlawfully, arrest an individual and accuse him or her of crimes as a result, the accused person might be able to get the charges thrown out.

Let's say you're at home enjoying the football game on the weekend after a long week working construction and you get a knock on the door. The police forcefully enter your home and start rummaging through your things until they find something they can use against you in court. Then they arrest you and accuse you of a crime.

What happens when Miranda rights are violated?

In 1966, the Supreme Court ruled that statements made to the police could not be used as evidence unless the accused was made aware of certain rights before making any statements.

The Constitution of the United States provides special protections to those who have been accused of committing a crime. These protected rights include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. These elements, in particular, are known as Miranda rights and must be recited to you by an officer before you can be questioned as a suspect.

Thinking of drinking and driving? Take a look at Tennessee's new DUI laws.

If you have been following our blog, you know that there are serious repercussions that accompany the charges of driving under the influence. In addition to fines, jail time and license suspension, those arrested also need to attend an alcohol treatment program and install an alcohol monitoring device in their cars.

As of July 1, new legislation has increased penalties, added documentation requirements and lengthened the time period for alcohol monitoring.

The 785 isn't just an area code, it's a law that protects your cell phone.

It was late. You were in a rush to get home and were pulled over for speeding. You know the drill: be polite, explain your actions before reaching into a glove compartment, remain calm. After you provide your license and registration, though, the officer demands your cell phone. You don't want trouble, but you don't want some stranger peering through your photos and messages. What are your options?

According to both the U.S. Supreme Court and Tennessee legislature, the search and seizure of cell phones at traffic stops is illegal. But before you think your phone can never be confiscated, learn the special circumstances in which your phone may be taken from you.

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