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Memphis Tennessee Criminal Defense Blog

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.

Learn more about your Fourth Amendment rights

You were driving and had to swerve suddenly in the road. You nearly got into an accident, but after correcting your vehicle, you were able to get back into your lane and continue without any further problems.

The only issue is that a police officer saw your unusual maneuver and decided to pull you over. They told you it was for reckless driving and wanted to guarantee that you were safe to drive.

Supporting your spouse when they're accused of a crime

In any marriage, spouses will need to support each other through the good times and the bad. There will always be situations that have the power to test your relationship, and these may even make you question whether you want to remain married. The future of your relationship should always be your choice, but if you remain committed to supporting your spouse through the situation they are going through, it is important to consider the best way to do this.

If your spouse is currently facing criminal charges, there will be several things that you will need to consider. If you were aware of their actions, you may also be subject to a criminal investigation, so it is important that you protect yourself. Additionally, you may be unsure about how you should communicate with family and friends about the situation. The following are some tips for supporting your spouse through this difficult time.

Is encouraging suicide a crime?

A recent criminal case involving a young man's suicide and his girlfriend's urgings via text has raised an interesting legal question. Can another person be held accountable for encouraging someone's suicide? While at the outset it might seem like that's not possible, Justia offers the following information about this compelling case and why the guilty verdict was indeed justified. 

Many types of speech are protected by this country's free speech laws. As a result, some posited that this conviction actually shows a person's right to free speech being violated. The logic goes that the defendant had a right to express herself as she saw fit, even though most people would agree that her statements were morally reprehensible. However, carrying on a conversation via text is not considered the same as expressing yourself in other ways. For example, unlike a book containing controversial ideas being published, there is no opposing viewpoint to a text message shared between two individuals. 

Will I go to jail over a DUI?

Driving under the influence is a very serious crime with very serious consequences. Accordingly, many people charged with a DUI are worried that they might end up with jail time. As explained by Very Well Mind, jail time is a very real possibility after being arrested for DUI.

Immediately after your arrest, you'll be taken to a local police station for booking. You might also be detained for a period of time until you're deemed sober. In other states, you'll be released from the holding cell when another person comes to retrieve you and possibly remit bail. Along with your arrest, you may also be subject to jail time after your hearing. Many states have mandatory jail times for DUI offenses, even for first-time offenders. For repeat offenders or those subject to extenuating circumstances, jail time will likely be increased beyond the minimum. 

What are the signs of drug addiction?

It seems like drug addiction is easy to identify, especially when it's happening to you or someone you love. However, this is not always the case. It can be very difficult for some people to realize they have a problem, which can lead to trouble with the law, interpersonal issues, and problems with employment. If you're concerned that you or a loved one is suffering from drug addiction, WebMD recommends looking for the following signs. 

Many people with substance abuse issues attempt to impose limitations on themselves in order to cut back on their use. You might tell yourself that you'll only use a so much of a drug or that you'll only use it on certain occasions. When people with addiction problems impose limits, they often find themselves failing time and again. They might also find themselves spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about their drug of choice. 

When is deadly force not justified?

While you certainly never anticipate being put in the position of having to use deadly force against another in Memphis, it can indeed happen. The difference between you facing a potential murder charge and your actions qualifying as self-defense depend on the situation you are in. In general, the use of force is justified when you and/or others feel reasonably at risk of being killed or seriously injured by another if you feel to act. A few of the exceptions of this rule have been detailed in the past; this blog post will go in greater depth in defining others. 

Your own actions leading up to and during the incident in which you use deadly force in defense will go a long way in determining the outcome you may face. Section 39-11-611(e) of Tennessee's Criminal Offenses Code clearly states that you cannot use deadly force in response to action that you consented to. The same is true if you were attempting to provoke the person against whom force is used into an altercation. The only exceptions to this would be if, after engaging in the altercation, you made an attempt to walk away from it, yet your opponent continued to act against you. 

Understanding your Miranda rights when under arrest

There are basic rights and protections in place that do a lot for those facing criminal charges. They have the right to a criminal defense, the right to a speedy trial and the right to a jury comprised of their peers. There are also rights enshrined in the Constitution, such as the freedom from unreasonable searches, that can protect people and also help them defend against criminal allegations.

One set of rights that many people find confusing are those commonly called Miranda Rights. Even if you have never run into trouble with law enforcement, understanding your Miranda Rights can protect you. If you have already gotten arrested, it's important to understand if police somehow violated your Miranda Rights.

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