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Memphis Tennessee Criminal Defense Blog

How to avoid helping the prosecution

At The Law Office of Massey McClusky McClusky & Fuchs, there is one thing that we wish everybody knew before they came to our office with a criminal defense case. It is simple: You will probably not reach a favorable compromise by yourself. 

You are, of course, an important part of your own defense. You have a critical role to play. However, contrary to what the police officers and Tennessee prosecutors may have you believe, that role will probably not be dealmaker, negotiator or self-advocate. So, what does this mean for you?

Reviewing the concept of corruption of blood

A criminal conviction in Memphis can leave one facing an uncertain future once they have fulfilled all of the requirements that justice demands be served for their crime. Their ability to succeed may depend largely on what resources are available to them at the completion of their sentences. Many may think, however, that one loses whatever property or assets that might have previously owned once they have been convicted of a serious crime (in this context, a felony would be viewed as being serious). This assumption is based on a concept known as “corruption of blood.”

This legal concept was widely recognized in the past as an additional form of punishment for crimes such as treason. Per the Cornell Law School, a designation of corruption of blood resulted in the forfeiture of one’s estate. In addition, the designee’s heirs would also be stripped of any entitlement that they may have had to inherit their assets. While the idea of corruption of blood originated in England, it has been employed (to an extent) here in the U.S.

Understand the seriousness of involuntary manslaughter charges

Involuntary manslaughter is an illegal act in Tennessee. It includes several different kinds of killings that were a result of reckless, grossly negligent or unlawful actions. Involuntary manslaughter charges may be filed when a person kills another as a result of their disregard for another person's safety or the risk of death when performing certain acts.

These deaths are accidental, but they are still charged criminally. Involuntary manslaughter is less serious than charges for intentional killings, but it can still lead to harsh penalties.

Hamilton County officials arrest man for riding horse while drunk

Most in Memphis likely can agree as to the need for local law enforcement officials to protect the public for potential criminal activity. At the same time, however, officials should not be given free rein to do whatever they want when prosecuting one who has allegedly violated the law. While there is little argument that criminal penalties are meant to be punitive (to a certain extent), there are also cases where the prosecution of one may imply that law enforcement has their own agenda in mind rather than seeking to help one overcome the troubles that they put themselves in. 

The case of a Hamilton County man may serve to illustrate this point. Authorities were alerted that the man was traveling on local roads while intoxicated. His method of transportation? A horse. The man did indeed to appear drunk (even to the point of falling off of the animal). He was arrested and eventually jailed for putting himself, the horse and other drivers on the road (although it was not reported whether he was traveling on busy roads or not) in danger. 

Violent crimes and aggravated robbery can land you in prison

With an aggravated robbery charge, the assumption is that the person who was committing the robbery was armed with a deadly weapon at the time, inflicted bodily harm or had an accomplice. The threat of bodily harm can also be included in the definition of an aggravated robbery.

There are three categories of robbery in Tennessee including:

  • Aggravated robbery
  • Robbery
  • Especially aggravated robbery

How does Tennessee define intellectual disability?

Not guilty be reason of insanity may seem to be such an overused defense to murder charges that most in Memphis may simply dismiss it the moment it is cited. Yet what if it truly exists in your case? Some might think that determining whether or not you have the intellectual capacity to comprehend the seriousness of any allegedly murderous actions comes down to the subjective opinions of those hearing your case. Yet the state has set guidelines for identifying whether an intellectual disability should be viewed as a mitigating factor to the murder charges that you may be facing.

In the context of the state law addressing the issue of culpability for murder due to mental impairment (as found in Section 39-13-203 of Tennessee’s Criminal Offenses Code), the state defines an intellectual disability as: 

  • Significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning (with the baseline for average functioning being set at an IQ score of 70)
  • Demonstrative deficits in adaptive behavior
  • Your intellectual disability having manifested during your developmental years (prior to you turning 18)

Felony murder charges: Serious charges for the deaths of others

Of all the homicide offenses in the United States, first-degree murder is the most serious. In a first-degree murder case, the charge assumes that the murder was willful and intentional. The charge is placed when it's believed that the murder was premeditated.

Not all first-degree murders have to be intentional, though. In the U.S., there are at least five crimes that can be committed that, if they lead to a death, could result in first-degree murder charges in most states.

Regaining the right to vote

Those in Memphis who have completed the terms of a criminal conviction no doubt look forward to moving past their legal troubles and getting on with their lives. For many, part of moving on may include becoming more involved in their local communities. A major component of community engagement is being able to vote for new laws and measures. Yet one consequence that those who have been convicted of felony offenses are forced to deal with (even after the completion of their sentences) is the forfeiture of the right to vote. Indeed, according to The Sentencing Project, 6.1 million Americans are unable to vote due to prior felony convictions. 

The question then becomes can one who has been convicted of a felony in Tennessee regain their voting rights? Per the Office of the Tennessee Secretary of State, those convicting before May 18, 1981 retain the eligibility to vote (the only exception would be people convicted of certain violent crimes before January 15, 1973). Current voting rights restrictions became effective after the May 1981 date.

How does blood alcohol concentration affect a person?

Many people claim to have tips and tricks that allow them to drink without becoming too drunk to drive. The fact is that alcohol impairment begins earlier than most people think. Physical effects can be present even before a person reaches the legal limit, which is .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention breaks down the effects of alcohol, some of which may be surprising. 

0.6 ounces of pure alcohol is considered equal to a standard drink size. For instance, 12-ounces of beer with 5% alcohol content would be considered a single drink, as would 1.5-ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits, such as whiskey. Going by these standards, about two drinks would bring a person to .02 BAC. At this point, a person experiences a change in mood, as well as minimal impairment of judgment. In terms of driving, this can cause visual disturbances, as well as problems performing two activities at the same time. 

What is probable cause?

As a Tennessee resident, you have the right to secure your home, property, personal effects and papers against unreasonable searches and seizures. If you are facing drug charges after law enforcement officials search your home or car, you may hear they had probable cause.

According to FindLaw, probable cause means that law enforcement believes they have adequate reason to seize property, conduct a search or arrest you. Officers typically need a search warrant to do this lawfully. Obtaining such an order requires that an officer sign an affidavit. This legal document states why the search is reasonable. A judge must agree that cause exists based on the overall situation. Prosecutors cannot charge you with a crime if officers cannot prove probable cause, with or without a warrant.

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Memphis, TN 38128

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