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The Basics of a Self-Defense Claim in Tennessee

Most people know that they have the right to defend themselves from harm. However, the law does not allow you to justify violence by claiming self-defense in any given situation. It is important to understand the basics of self-defense under Tennessee law, both to prevent criminal charges and to defend against them.

The following is a brief overview regarding how Tennessee treats self-defense. To discuss how the law may apply to a specific situation, please contact Barnes Law directly to consult with an experienced Knoxville criminal defense attorney.

How a Self-Defense Claim Works

Claiming self-defense means that you admit that you acted in violence toward another person, but you claim that you had legal justification for the violence. This is a common claim when someone is accused of assault or murder, and they allege that the harm was necessary to protect themselves from violence. There are some requirements for when you can lawfully claim self-defense:

  • You were not engaging in illegal activities at the time
  • You had the right to be in that location at that time
  • You had a real honest belief that the threat of bodily harm was imminent and that your actions were necessary to protect you from the imminent harm
  • Another reasonable person would have also feared imminent harm and believed the actions were necessary under the same circumstances

It is important to emphasize that you must prove you feared imminent harm, such as someone coming at you aggressively, swinging a punch, or driving toward you in their car as if to hit you. Self-defense would not be justified if someone threatened later violence against you. For example, if a person at a bar said they were going to fight you outside in 20 minutes, you would not be justified in using violence right then to prevent later harm.

In most cases, the other person must be the initial aggressor in the situation. If you push someone and start a fight and they push you back, you cannot lawfully continue to use violence to protect yourself from them. One exception to this requirement is if the other person substantially escalates the violence. If you push someone and then they pull out a gun, you can then protect yourself from deadly harm. Additionally, you may be able to claim self-defense if you start a fight, try to retreat from the fight, and the other person continues to act violently and pose an imminent threat of harm. If the other person is the initial aggressor, however, there is no duty to retreat before you act in self-defense in Tennessee like there is in some other states, due to the “Stand Your Ground” law.

Using Deadly Force in Self-Defense

In some cases, an act of self-defense may cause or threaten death to another person. Deadly force is only justified to protect against serious bodily harm or death. For instance, if someone swings a punch at you, the law does not allow you to shoot or stab them to protect yourself. The deadly force must be proportional to the harm feared.

Tennessee does have a law called the “Castle Doctrine,” which allows people to use deadly force under certain circumstances to protect themselves in certain locations. The Castle Doctrine is based on the idea that your home is your castle and you should be able to protect yourself in your home and similar location. The Castle Doctrine creates a legal presumption that self-defense may be justified if someone forcibly enters the following locations:

  • A home that you own, lease, or in which you are an invited guest
  • A business establishment that you own or in which you work as an employee or an agent of the owner to protect the premises
  • A building or dwelling of any kind with a roof over it that is intended for use by people, including mobile homes and tents
  • Any type of motorized vehicle designed for people to use on public roads to transport people or items

In order for the Castle Doctrine to apply, you must be lawfully in the location and you must know or reasonably believe that the other person unlawfully entered. The law does not permit deadly force in the following situations:

  • The victim of the deadly force had the right to enter the home or location
  • The victim of the deadly force was trying to remove a child or person over which they have legal custody or guardianship
  • The person using deadly force was engaging in unlawful activity or using the building to conduct unlawful acts
  • The victim of the deadly force was a law enforcement officer entering the building or operating a roadblock or traffic stop as part of their duties as an officer, and the person using force had reason to believe the victim was an officer

If someone has the right to enter a home or building, the Castle Doctrine does not protect you if you use deadly force against them. You also cannot provoke the person into entering the home of using force. Deadly force is never warranted to protect items of personal property or to get a trespasser off a property if they are not trying to enter the building or its dire

Claiming Self-Defense

A successful self-defense claim requires careful strategizing and presentation of evidence. If police arrest you, it may be tempting to tell them you acted in self-defense right then and there. However, if you cannot later prove self-defense, your claim may be used as an admission of a violent act. Instead, always call a criminal defense lawyer before answering any questions or making any claims to police or prosecutors.

Find Out How Our Knoxville Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You At Barnes Law, we regularly represent clients facing violent criminal charges, identifying all possible defenses such as self-defense claims. After an arrest, it is always wise to exercise your right to an attorney immediately and contact our office for assistance. We can also help if you already face criminal charges and will work to reach the most favorable outcome possible.

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How does evidence get suppressed?

To get a criminal conviction at trial, a prosecutor must present enough evidence to convince a judge or jury that the defendant is guilty of the specified offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Because this is the highest burden of proof in the U.S. justice system, it often requires a substantial amount of evidence to meet. Law enforcement can provide evidence from investigations and the prosecutor can present the evidence in court.

Evidence can come in many forms, including:

  • Physical objects
  • Photographs
  • Witness statements
  • Video or audio recordings
  • Digital data
  • Scientific findings

The law in the United States does not allow all types of evidence to be submitted in court against a defendant, however. There are many protections for defendants in place and rules of evidence that dictate when evidence can be lawfully obtained and presented in court. When illegal evidence comes against a defendant, it can often lead to a wrongful conviction. For this reason, it is imperative to have a highly skilled criminal defense lawyer handling your case who knows how to get evidence “suppressed.”

Motions to Suppress

The suppression of evidence occurs when a judge rules that certain evidence should not be submitted at trial. In order for a judge to rule on such an issue, a lawyer must often file a motion with the court asking for a ruling. A motion to suppress is the catalyst that can lead to the keeping evidence out of your criminal case.

In order to succeed on a motion to suppress, your attorney must present sufficient factual information and apply specific laws to those facts to convince the judge that the evidence is illegal. Law presented in these motions can include case law, state or federal rules, or often, the Constitution of the United States. These motions must be persuasively drafted with sound legal analysis and reasoning.

The prosecution can respond to your motion to suppress with their own arguments in favor of the evidence. In some cases, the court will hold a motion hearing during which both parties will argue their case. The judge will then rule on whether the evidence should be suppressed or not.

The Importance of Evidence Suppression

Often, the suppression of the right evidence can lead a jury to acquit you at trial, or even to the dismissal of charges before a trial ever happens. A common example happens in drug-related cases. In order to convict you of drug possession, the prosecutor must usually prove that police found a controlled substance. They cannot simply tell the jury you had cocaine – instead, they should have the evidence tested and present test results as proof that the substance in question was cocaine.

If police officers obtained the drugs unlawfully – which is more common than you may imagine – a defense attorney can file a motion to suppress the illegally-obtained drug evidence. If the motion is successful, the prosecutor can no longer use that drug evidence to prove that you possessed drugs. This is often the main piece of evidence in drug cases and without it, the prosecution usually knows it cannot prove the drug charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, they may often dismiss the charges then and there. This is only one of many examples of how the suppression of evidence can prevent a conviction.

Common Reasons to Suppress Evidence

As part of the discovery phase of a criminal case, your attorney will obtain and analyze all the evidence the prosecution plans to use against you and how the evidence was obtained. An experienced attorney should be able to identify when there is reason to file a motion to suppress.

Some examples of evidence commonly suppressed include:

  • Evidence obtained by an unreasonable search in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights
  • Evidence obtained due to an unlawful traffic stop or arrest, which constitutes an unreasonable seizure in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights
  • Confessions obtained without proper Miranda warnings in violation of your Fifth Amendment rights
  • Confessions obtained by coercion or physical force
  • Evidence that constitutes hearsay without a valid exception under the Federal Rules of Evidence
  • Evidence that is not relevant to the case at hand
  • Evidence that is unreasonably prejudicial to the defendant
  • Evidence that is not reliable

The question of reliability often arises in criminal cases, as prosecutors often try to admit evidence based on questionable science. This can include evidence involving fingerprints, bloodstain patterns, eyewitness identifications, or DNA. For example, for decades, many people took the witness stand and claimed they were “experts” in analyzing blood spatter and giving their opinion on how the crime occurred. However, in recent years, scientific studies have cast substantial doubt on the reliability of blood spatter analysis and claim such “experts” led to many wrongful convictions. In this day and age, defense attorneys regularly question a prosecutor’s blood spatter testimony and seek for it to be suppressed.

In addition, defense lawyers know that forensic labs can make many mistakes that lead to unreliable testimony. This is common in DUI cases in which a blood test showed a defendant had drugs in their system or a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit. Labs may mislabel or switch samples, store them improperly, fail to record results right away, use uncalibrated testing equipment, and make many other mistakes that should render their testimony and the test results unreliable for admission at trial.

Contact a Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney for Help Today

There are many, many other types of evidence that should be suppressed from criminal trials. The problem is that unrepresented defendants often do not realize when evidence against them is unlawful or how to go about getting it suppressed. Suppressing key evidence is only one of many defense strategies we regularly pursue at Barnes Law. If you were arrested or face criminal charges, you should not wait any longer to call a skilled Knoxville defense lawyer for a free consultation. The sooner Barnes Law starts working on your case, the sooner we can start building the most effective defense strategy for you.

A First-Time Drug Conviction Can Affect Your Professional Future

If the police arrest you on suspicion of drug possession or sales, you will likely face charges for a serious drug-related offense under Tennessee law. Many people fail to take first-time drug charges seriously, as they mistakenly believe that having small amounts of drugs is “no big deal.” In reality, any drug conviction can have serious and lasting consequences far into the future.

When you worry about a drug-related conviction, you may initially worry about the possibility of fines, probation, or time behind bars. You may not realize that the consequences of a conviction can reach far probation or jail a sentence, and the financial implications can continue long after your fines and court costs are paid. This is because a drug conviction can have lasting effects on your professional future.

 

Higher Education Opportunities

Drug possession charges are common among college students. While you may think a drug charge is a separate matter from your college attendance and academic performance, drug possession violates college codes of conduct, and your school may take disciplinary action against you based on your criminal case. Such action can include expulsion from your school, and you can find it difficult to gain acceptance to another institution.

Even if you are not expelled, drug activity can disqualify you from participating in collegiate athletics, which can also cause you to lose a substantial scholarship. Drug convictions can also render you ineligible for federal financial aid, upon which many students rely to attend college. Not finishing a college program can limit your opportunities in your intended professional field.

 

Finding a New Job

When you apply for a job, many companies will conduct a criminal background check as part of the application process. When a prospective employer learns you have a drug conviction on your record, they may decide not to hire you, despite your experience or qualifications for the position. This is especially true as most drug convictions are felonies in Tennessee, and many companies have policies against hiring convicted felons, even for a first-time offense. For this reason, a drug conviction can substantially limit your job opportunities and your ability to earn higher salaries.

 

Eligibility for a Professional License

Many careers require you to obtain and maintain a professional license. Such careers include:

  • Doctors and dentists
  • Nurses
  • Lawyers
  • Accountants
  • Locksmiths
  • Commercial drivers
  • Chiropractors

When a licensing board considers an applicant, they will often consider many aspects of their personal and professional history, including their criminal background. Criminal activity is often viewed as a negative factor when it comes to issuing professional licenses. For example, a drug conviction can cast doubt on your character and fitness to handle money or confidential information or on your reliability due to possible substance abuse issues.

 

Security Clearances

Many government agencies, government contracts, or security companies require you to have some level of a security clearance. The process of obtaining a clearance is not an easy one, and many factors will be considered when determining whether to issue you a clearance to have access to confidential and sensitive information. One factor is your criminal background.

While a criminal conviction may not disqualify you from getting a security clearance on its own, it can work against you. According to the Department of Defense, some of the main reasons for a clearance denial include:

  • Drug involvement
  • Criminal conduct
  • Personal conduct

As you can imagine, a drug conviction can be a strike against you when it comes to all of the above factors, making it more difficult to obtain or keep a security clearance.

 

Avoiding a Drug Conviction Whenever Possible

Even a first-time drug conviction can affect your professional life for years to come, often limiting your earnings and opportunities. This is only one of many reasons why you should avoid even a first conviction whenever you can. The right criminal defense lawyer will be able to identify ways to defend against your charges and avoid a conviction on your record, depending on the circumstances of your arrest and charges.

Some common defenses against drug charges include:

  • 4th Amendment violations – Police cannot simply search you, your vehicle, or your home whenever they want, as the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution protects you from unreasonable search and seizure. If police officers found drugs without a warrant or another legal justification for a search, a skilled defense attorney can argue that any drug evidence should be suppressed form your case.
  • Challenging constructive possession – Drug possession charges can be based on actual possession (i.e., you had the drugs on your immediate person) or constructive possession (i.e., the drugs were in a place where you had access to control them, such as a shared apartment or vehicle). Prosecutors usually allege constructive possession based on circumstantial evidence, which an attorney can challenge.
  • Forensic lab errors – In order to convict you of drug possession, a prosecutor must prove that the substance you possessed was an illegal drug. This is often accomplished by forensic lab testing and reports. Forensic lab technicians can make mistakes that render test results unreliable or inaccurate. Your attorney can provide evidence of possible errors to call drug evidence into question.

In addition to the above defenses, a defense lawyer can also look into the possibility of a diversion program such as drug court that keeps you out of jail and keeps a conviction off your criminal record. The best way to know your defense options is to discuss the specifics of your charges with a criminal defense law firm as soon as you can.

 

Contact an Experienced Knoxville Criminal Defense Lawyer as Soon as Possible

You should never risk an unnecessary or wrongful drug conviction by representing yourself. Even for first-time offenders, convictions can have long-term effects on both your professional and personal life. To ensure you obtain the best possible outcome in your drug case, you should consult with a qualified Knoxville criminal defense lawyer right away after an arrest. Attorney John Barnes regularly handles drug-related cases in Tennessee, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free case evaluation.

What Constitutes A Field Sobriety Test In Knoxville, Tennessee?

When a Tennessee law officer pulls you over for being under suspicion of a DUI, you may be asked by the officer to get out of your vehicle and perform a sequence of field sobriety tests (FST).  These specific tests are standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Due to the standardization of these tests, they should be the same three tests no matter where or who pulls you over.  Furthermore, it is expected that these three tests will be given the exact same way.  

Do you have to submit yourself to a field sobriety test?  The answer is no, and you do not have to.  The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has estimated that law enforcement officials detect impairment incorrectly in nine out of every one hundred field sobriety tests.  Field Sobriety Tests are given solely to “prove” whether or not you are too impaired to operate your vehicle.  The tests are only there to serve the interest of the arresting officer that pulled you over.  Passing all the tests will not necessarily put you in the clear.  The officer can still choose to charge you with a DUI in Tennessee even if you pass all the FST.  The officer that stopped you is not obligated to let you know that you are allowed to refuse the tests.  Usually, it is in your best interests to politely decline to take the FST.

If you do decide to comply and take the field sobriety tests, it is helpful to understand how they work.  The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) is the test where the officer will shine a light in your eye or will ask you to follow his pen or their finger as it is moved from side to side.  They will be looking to see if your eyes move smoothly from side to side, not jerky or jumping.  This is supposed to be the most accurate of the FST because movement from your eyeballs is involuntary.  However, there are at least thirty-eight other health conditions that one could suffer from that would make their eyes nystagmus.  These range from inner ear issues to glaucoma or even excess caffeine intake.   The next test is the Walk and Turn (WAT).  This field sobriety test is where the officer will have you walk a straight line, heel to toe for nine steps.  Then they will ask you to turn and walk it back to them.  This is supposed to show your balance and your ability to multi-task.  If this test is not done on solid, dry, flat ground, then it may not be valid.  Also if the officer did not give you an actual straight line to go by, then the test may not be accurate.  Lastly, the officer will ask you to do the One Leg Stand (OLS) test.  This tends to be the most inaccurate of all the field sobriety tests.  You will be asked to stand and hold one foot up off the ground (at least six inches) in front of you for a total of thirty seconds.  This test too is to show balance, like the WAT.  People with back or leg problems tend to have trouble even sober performing this field sobriety test.  Each of these tests has multiple signs that the police officers are trained to look out for, to indicate impairment of the driver.  If the officer sees these signs and has a breath test, they will use these test factors as evidence that you are too impaired to drive.  This can be due to drinking or impairment under drugs.  You will be charged with a DUI, and if you are convicted, you will lose your license and be forced to pay substantial money in the form of fines.  Plus your daily routine may have to change drastically if you are without personal transportation.

One of the most frequently asked questions we get at our firm is; Can I beat a field sobriety test?  We explain to all our clients that every person and every case is different.  Just as kids perform differently on their school exams, someone pulled over may respond differently than the next on the field sobriety tests.  Also, it is important to note that no two officers are exactly alike.  One may administer the FST different than that of the next.  Field Sobriety Tests to us are a very subjective component to a DUI case.  Field sobriety tests are not infallible, and under some circumstances, they may not even be admissible.  It is possible to build a defense on behalf of a client who “failed” the field sobriety tests during a DUI stop in the state of Tennessee.

Our skilled Knoxville DUI attorneys have many years of experience building defenses as such to help the general public.  We have a great understanding of how the local and state law enforcement administers these field sobriety tests, and we know how to look for the weak spots.  Our law office stays up to date on the ever-changing DUI laws in Tennessee.  We work diligently and aggressively to uphold your rights and defend you from your DUI charge.  Our firm takes pride in helping you and your family rest easy knowing that your best interests are also our shared interests.  We realize not only the financial burden that a DUI can place on you and your family, but we also understand that your freedom is at stake.

At Barnes Law in Knoxville, Tennessee our legal team is awaiting your call to discuss your recent DUI charge.  Our attorneys know the Tennessee DUI laws and can build a strong defense on your behalf.  A skilled DUI attorney at the Barnes Law Firm will guide you through the complicated legal process and fight to have your charges dropped. Call our office today for a free consultation.

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Common Misconceptions About Being Charged with a DUI in Tennessee

Most people when they first begin to look for DUI lawyers and information on the subject are emotionally distraught.  They are confused, angry, embarrassed, and even sometimes feel hopeless.  These emotions are to be expected, and they merely mean that you are like most others facing a pending DUI charge in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Going through the actual act of being arrested is a terrible experience to handle.  Remember that all these feelings are normal, and fearing the unknown is natural following an arrest.  Fortunately, there are attorneys available to talk to that understand all the legal jargon and are non-judgmental.  Our attorneys at Barnes Law are here to help you and your loved ones deal with your DUI charge.  We are here to not only help guide you through the complicated legal process of a DUI case, but also to help alleviate some of your worries and anxiety that come along with these type of situations.

If you have recently been arrested and charged with a DUI or DWI in the state of Tennessee, then it is imperative to understand the possible ways to fight your charges.  Driving under the influence charges in the state of Tennessee are grave matters, and you need to react promptly following your arrest to give you the best chance to beat your DUI case.  If you were recently arrested for a DUI charge and it is your first offense, there are some preventative steps that you can take to avoid the Ignition Interlock Device (IID) and the high price tag that goes along with it.

A common misconception about being charged with a DUI in Tennessee is that you are automatically found guilty if you fail the breathalyzer or the roadside sobriety field tests.  There is always room for human error when operating breathalyzer machines and giving field sobriety tests.  There have been multiple cases fought where the officer’s error or mistakes have been revealed, and the DUI cases have been dismissed.  This is why having a skilled Tennessee DUI attorney by your side throughout the legal process is valuable to get the results you need.  At Barnes Law Firm in Knoxville, we have experience in dealing with all different DUI case situations and can help you fight for your rights when burdened with a DUI charge.

By receiving a DUI/DWI charge in the state of Tennessee, it is very likely that you had to provide a urine or blood sample in addition to the breathalyzer test.  The police may have taken you to a hospital to get your blood or urine test.  No matter how disappointed or discouraged you are in the moments closely following your DUI charge, it is important to have your arrest details examined by a professional Tennessee DUI attorney.  By gaining legal counsel from a DUI attorney, you are equipping yourself with the best possible way to fight for dropped charges and help you find the advantages within your particular case.  Our competent DUI attorneys are known for finding mistakes and using tried defense strategies to help fight your DUI charges.  Having one of our DUI attorneys look over your case as soon as possible after your arrest can only assist you in maximizing your chances to beat the case.  Our attorneys are familiar with all the tests officers administer during a DUI stop, and they know what to look out for in DUI cases.

While there are common indicators that can be relative to alcohol impairment, this may not always be the case for every person who gets charged with a DUI in Tennessee.  For instance, an unusual driving pattern could be caused by a mechanical defect or dangerous road conditions.  The odor of alcohol is usually consistent with its recent consumption, but that does not always mean proof of impairment.  Just because someone has had drinks does not necessarily mean that they are impaired.  Having bloodshot or glassy eyes can be an indicator of being over-tired or fatigued, but there are many other reasons one’s eyes may look this way.  Some people have glassy eyes from being around a smoky environment.  Dental or medical issues may be the cause of slurred speech, not necessarily impairment.  When doing roadside tests, a lack a balance could be from road conditions, footwear, or medical conditions.  Sometimes being unable to locate your documents such as registration for the officer is just out of nervousness.  Some individuals react nervously when speaking to law officers no matter what the circumstances are.  Remember that all hope is not lost just because of the DUI charge you received.  If you are charged with a DUI, it is very important to gain the services of a skilled Tennessee DUI attorney to help you find all the possible ways to get your case dismissed.  Our Knoxville DUI attorneys will let you know what to expect and will provide you personalized legal service for your specific DUI case.

Often mistakes are made in DUI cases due to human error on the arresting officers or intake’s part.  Proving these type of elements can be very difficult especially in a Tennessee DUI court.  If you or your attorney can show the mistakes made by the arresting officers at any point in your DUI case, then you have significantly increased your chances of winning your DUI case.  Our attorneys have experience in exposing the common mistakes made by arresting officers.  Usually, these mistakes or errors are made by the officer in his documentation or the collecting of blood, breath, or urine samples.  Sometimes in DUI arrests, the field sobriety tests are not administered properly.  Once one of our skilled Barnes Law attorneys has reviewed all the details of your particular DUI case, they will discuss defense options and strategies with you to help you fight to beat your DUI charge.  Tennessee DUI laws are always changing, making it even more necessary for you to obtain reliable legal counsel from an experienced DUI attorney. 

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How Do I Beat DUI Charges in Knoxville, Tennessee?

Far too many people make the mistake of accepting a plea bargain when they don’t have to while facing Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI charges. There are cases where this will give you the best outcome, but if you can successfully fight the charges, then you absolutely should. This is because the impact of a DUI conviction on your life is significant. It can prevent you from being able to travel to other countries, from being able to keep your job or pursue other career paths, and even from being able to maintain auto insurance coverage on your vehicle. It is important to have a Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI attorney look at your case and explore your options before you give in to these consequences. Barnes Law knows how to handle a DUI case and how to fight the charges to protect your future. Following are some of the things we think you need to be aware of when it comes to fighting DUI charges.

The Prosecution Has the Burden of Proof for a Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI Case

It’s essential for anyone who is facing a DUI charge in Knoxville, Tennessee, to fully understand that if the case goes to trial, the prosecution has to be able to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. They have the burden of proof. It is not up to you to prove that you were not driving under the influence. It is up to them to prove that you were. This means that their evidence has to be infallible and inarguable. If there is any reasonable doubt, you should not be convicted. Thus, your Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI attorney must look at establishing reasonable doubt to poke holes in the evidence that the prosecution will present in their effort to prove that you are truly guilty of a DUI.  If there are any issues with the reliability of the tests used to measure your level of intoxication, or if there are any issues with the arrest and legal procedures during that process, then you may have a solid leg to stand on when it comes to fighting a DUI charge.

Could the Results of Your Blood Alcohol Test Be Thrown Out as Evidence?

When you have a blood alcohol content reading on file, it can seem like the situation is completely hopeless.

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If you are fighting a DUI, don’t fight it alone. Contact Barnes Law today!

However, there are many situations where this evidence can be questioned and even thrown out. Imagine if the strongest evidence against you is determined to be unreliable obtained and not allowed to be presented at trial. It suddenly makes you see your case in a whole new light. If the BAC reading cannot be relied upon for any reason, then it can’t be used. Then, what exactly do they have against you to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were driving under the influence? Common examples of why a BAC reading might be thrown out include:

  • The machine was not properly calibrated.
  • The machine was not properly maintained.
  • The test was not properly administered.

Could the Procedures of the Arresting Officer Keep You From Being Convicted on DUI Charges?

Many people are also unaware of the fact that the arresting officer has to follow certain procedures in order for the arrest to be legal. Police are just as prone to slip ups and mistakes as others are, so it is entirely possible that the officer who arrested you did so without just cause or without following the appropriate procedures. If this happens, then reasonable doubt could be easy to establish.

A Qualified Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI Attorney Can Help You Fight the Charges

Whenever someone is charged with a DUI in Knoxville, Tennessee, it is common for the accused to think that they are without options and without hope. They may think that cooperating with the police and/or admitting guilt is their best opportunity to get out of the charges with the least severe consequences. The reality is that you can’t know that for sure until you talk to a qualified, skilled, and experienced attorney. Not every attorney will have the time or expertise that your case requires, so you want to choose the right lawyer or law firm to handle your case. Seek a free consultation with the at Barnes Law to find out how we can help you to avoid the consequences of DUI charges by fighting. If it is truly in your best interest to plead guilty, then at least you will know that all alternatives have been investigated, pursued, and considered before doing so. There is a very good chance that your attorney can get evidence thrown out, charges dropped, or other intervention options obtained.

Remember that You are Not Guilty of a DUI Just Because You Were Arrested

Being charged with a DUI in Knoxville, Tennessee, is a stressful and overwhelming situation that you don’t want to face alone. From the moment of your arrest, you can expect to feel anxious and even hopeless about your future. You may be very tempted to give up, give in, and cooperate with the police and the prosecution to achieve their goals instead of your own. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you are going to be found guilty because you were arrested, and never think that helping the prosecution is going to help you. In most cases, this is not so. The prosecution may lead you to believe that your cooperation is the only thing that will save you, but the reality is that you could end up just helping them to put you away and ruin your future. All the while, simply consulting with a skilled Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI attorney could be the answer you’re looking. Call Barnes Law to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your rights and your options with DUI charges.

 

 

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What is the Impact of a DUI Charge on Various Aspects of Your Life in Knoxville, TN?

When someone is facing a DUI charge in Knoxville, Tennessee, they are frequently under a lot of stress concerning the immediate impact. The immediate impact of the charge on your job, your finances, your family, and your social life are readily apparent. Still, a lot of people don’t realize the full extent of the impact of a DUI charge on various aspects of their lives. A DUI could end up on your criminal record. It could cause you to lose your driver’s license and/or end up with an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. It could result in high fines, the necessity of taking DUI classes, and higher insurance rates or lost coverage. It could also prevent you from being able to start a new career, continue in your present career, join the military, or even travel to another country. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the different ways that a DUI in Knoxville, Tennessee, could change your life.

Your Criminal Record and Career Opportunities with a Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI Charge

When you get a DUI conviction in Knoxville, Tennessee, you are going to have this on your criminal record, which could prevent you from achieving your future career goals. Most companies perform background checks on potential new hires, and this is where your criminal record is going to be particularly relevant to your life and goals. There are some jobs that you will no longer be eligible for with a DUI on your record. Following are just a few examples of occupations where you may not be able to be employed if you have ever been convicted of a DUI in Knoxville, Tennessee:

  • Police Officer
  • Firefighter
  • Teacher
  • Nurse
  • CDL Commercial Vehicle Driver
  • Government Employee

Your Dreams of Travel and Vacation Plans with Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI Charge

One frequently overlooked consequence of a DUI in Knoxville, Tennessee, is the impact on your dreams of travel and your vacation plans. Many people love to travel or hope to travel later in life. When facing a DUI charge, however, it may never even occur to them that their dreams of international travel are on the line. If you plan to immigrate to another country, then this too could be off limits with a DUI conviction. Some countries will not allow anyone with any kind of criminal record to enter. Following are the countries with the strictest policies prohibiting persons with a criminal record from entering:

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If you are fighting a DUI, don’t fight it alone. Contact Barnes Law today!
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Countries in the European Union

Your Plans to Serve in the Military with a Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI Charge

If you have any plans to serve in the Army, the Marines, the Navy, or the US Air Force, these plans could quickly be derailed by a Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI conviction. If you are in the military at the time of your arrest, then the details of your arrest must be closely inspected by a Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI attorney to assess the impact of the charges on your military career. Many people don’t realize that their military careers will be affected by a DUI that happens while on leave or between deployments. Individuals who are convicted of such crimes are often deemed unfit to handle leadership and unfit to represent the armed services of the United States. Even if it is your first offense, it could change the trajectory of your military career or completely end it.

Your Auto Insurance Rates with a Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI Charge

If you are lucky, you have no plans to travel or join the military, and if your career is not affected by a DUI conviction, then you will still have the long-term consequence of a DUI on your auto insurance rates. Having a DUI conviction on your record will cause your auto insurance policy rates to be raised significantly, even if it is your first DUI. If you have multiple DUI convictions, then the effect on your auto insurance rates will be even worse, assuming you are able to get your license back. For many people in Knoxville, Tennessee, there is almost no point in having a license or a vehicle, because they can’t afford the auto insurance rates that they must pay for in order to drive legally. Some auto insurance companies will make you pay a much higher rate for a period of five years, without further DUI charges, before lowering the rate again. In the meantime, your rates could be thousands of dollars more each year for the same auto insurance coverage, because you are a high-risk driver.

Another important thing to be aware of with a DUI charge is that if you caused any damages in an auto accident with another driver, your auto insurance policy may refuse to cover those damages. You could end up facing the expenses of paying the damages caused to other vehicles in a DUI auto accident yourself. Adding up all of the potential consequences of a DUI conviction starts to get expensive.

Contact Barnes Law to Protect Yourself from the Impact of a Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI

Because the impact of a Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI conviction can be so costly and life-altering, it is important to consult with a skilled DUI attorney, like those at Barnes Law. There are cases where it is in your best interests to accept a plea deal, but if you want to avoid the impact of a DUI conviction, then this may not be your best option. You need to protect your career, your future plans, and your ability to stay mobile on the road. Contact Barnes Law to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your options for fighting a DUI charge in Knoxville, Tennessee.

DUI defense attorney in Knoxville TN

SIX OF THE BEST DUI DEFENSES YOUR LAWYER SHOULD KNOW AND USE IN KNOXVILLE

There are many defenses to a Knoxville DUI charge that are often specific to each case, but there are a few that come up on a regular basis.  These are some of the most successful defenses your lawyer should be using for your Tennessee DUI defense case.

The “Bad Stop” DUI Defense

This is one of the most basic defenses to DUI, but also one of the most effective.

The law is clear that for a police officer to pull you over or to “seize” you, he or she must have at least “reasonable suspicion” that you are committing or have committed a crime.

Police can’t pull you over on a hunch.  They can’t pull you over because it’s 2 A.M. and you’re leaving a particular part of Knoxville.  They can’t pull you over because you have out of county or out of state license plates, and they can’t seize you for sitting in your car minding your own business.

But sometimes they do.  And when they do, a good Knoxville, TN DUI lawyer will recognize the “bad stop” and file a motion to suppress all the evidence and ask the Judge to throw the case out.

The “Disconnect” DUI Defense

You’d probably be surprised how often a blood alcohol test result comes back far higher than a client would expect based on what they had to drink.

I’m often surprised at how high a result is based on watching my client on video and seeing that they look perfectly sober.

When these things happen there is a “disconnect.”  Something is wrong with the evidence.  Should we believe our own eyes seeing a sober and well functioning person?  Or should we believe the TBI blood alcohol test report that says the person had a high BAC?

There are plenty of reasons to rely on our own common sense and not a number on a page that is subject to human and machine error.

The “Real World Tests” vs. “Cop Tests” DUI Defense

“I couldn’t do those tests sober!”

It’s funny because it’s true.  The “Standardized Field Sobriety Tests” are difficult.  There are numerous reasons that people can’t perform them perfectly that have nothing to do with impairment.

We shouldn’t expect a 22-year-old college athlete and a 52-year-old teacher to perform to the same level on tests that require balance and coordination.

We shouldn’t expect someone with back problems, knee surgeries, inner ear issues, and a number of other medical conditions to be able to stand on one leg for 30 seconds with their eyes closed and their head tilted back.

In what world is that something people are expected to do to prove their innocence!

Don’t buy into these tests.  They are tools for the prosecution to convict, not to objectively prove guilt or innocence.

At Barnes Law in Knoxville, we prefer to use my common sense and listen to how my client sounds, how she walks, how he answers questions, and the “real world” indicators of impairment or sobriety that we can all recognize.

The “Bad Investigation” DUI Defense

If you were the victim of a crime wouldn’t you expect a thorough investigation of what happened?  You wouldn’t want the police just jumping to conclusions.  You’d want them to investigate.  To find out the truth and to be sure about it.

I’ve seen people arrested for DUI before they were even able to get out of the car.  I’ve seen DUI investigations that lasted less than 1 minute.

You and I are held to certain standards in our work.  Police officers’ work affects people’s entire lives.  They should be held to at least as high a standard of professionalism and diligence.

If the investigation was shoddy, we can’t trust the results.

The “Good Person” DUI Defense

This isn’t technically a “defense” to DUI.  Let me explain…

This is part of any good DUI defense but needs to be paired with a legal or factual defense.

Almost everyone we represent at Barnes Law for DUI is a good person.  They contribute to their families and the Knoxville community, they take the charge seriously and get help if they need it, and the work to make sure it never happens again.

Sometimes my clients have made a simple mistake about whether they were ok to drive.  Sometimes the police are the ones who made a mistake.

In any event, it’s important that you take certain steps to show that you are a responsible person who is not a danger to your community and that you won’t end up back in Tennessee DUI court ever again.

Taking these steps, that we can discuss, can lead to better results than an “actual” defense by itself.

The “At the Time of Driving” DUI Defense

This is something I see occasionally.  It happens when someone is arrested at their home or at some time after allegedly driving drunk.

In these situations a police officer may first encounter a person who has been in a car accident or who someone has called the police on.

However, the officer can only testify to what she sees at that time, not whether the person was impaired “at the time of driving.”  (or sometimes they can’t say whether the suspect ever drove at all.)

The State has to prove, not just that someone was impaired, but that they were impaired “while driving or in physical control of a motor vehicle.”

That isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

Our Experienced DUI Defense Lawyers Can Help You Beat a Knoxville DUI Charge

These are just a few of the defenses that may be available depending on the circumstances of your case.

Only a qualified Knoxville, TN criminal defense attorney who is experienced in defending DUI cases and who stays on top of all the changes in Tennessee DUI law and practice can advise you about your case.

If you have questions or would like us to evaluate your case give us a call at (865) 805-5703.

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What Penalties Might You Face for a Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI Charge?

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense in Knoxville, Tennessee. The criminal and financial consequences are very serious and costly. In many cases, they follow you for a long time as you face higher insurance premiums, jail time, the potential loss of your job, and more. One thing that many first time offenders are surprised by is that jail time is mandatory for a DUI conviction. Further, the court costs, the steep fines, and the cost of alcohol or drug treatment can create a significant hardship. If you are facing a DUI charge, even if it is your first, you would be wise to contact a Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI defense lawyer as quickly as possible to mitigate the damage.

What Counts as Driving Under the Influence According to the Law in Knoxville, Tennessee?

When you think of DUI charges, you imagine a drunk driver. If asked to think of other potential situations involving DUI charges, it might occur to you to consider those who drive under the influence of illegal drugs. What most people fail to consider is that even legally prescribed medications could result in a DUI charge. Specifically, you cannot drive on public roads, on highways, in ordinary streets, or even alleys while impaired by any substance. This includes marijuana, narcotics, stimulants, prescriptions that cause impairment, and of course, alcohol.

Having said that, not all illegal drugs and prescription medications are as easy to measure as alcohol when you are suspected of driving under the influence. You could test positive for THC, proving that you have use marijuana, but this only proves that you used marijuana at some time within the past month or so. You might test positive for cocaine or amphetamines, but this only proves that you used it at some time within the past few days. With prescription medications, you may test positive for something like codeine or benzodiazepines, but these tests only reveal that you have taken such medications at some time within the past few days or even weeks.

Alcohol, on the other hand, can be measured through a blood alcohol content breathalyzer test or blood test. These tests can reveal if you are currently intoxicated. For this reason, your level of impairment may be subjective. Also for this reason, you should be very careful about what you say when you are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence. If you specifically state that you are impaired by the side effects of a prescription medication, then this may be used against you.

What to Expect from a DUI Conviction as a First Time Offender in Knoxville, Tennessee

While the consequences for a DUI conviction are much worse for repeat offenders, even if the previous offenses happened in another state, the consequences are still very serious for first time offenders. As a first time offender, a DUI conviction will involve mandatory fines of $350 to $1,500.

Also mandatory is the jail time that comes with such a conviction. You will have a mandatory minimum of 48 hours in jail, though it could be more than this. In cases where your BAC was higher than .20%, you will have a mandatory minimum of seven days in jail. Depending on your case, you could end up with a jail sentence of anywhere from two days to almost a full year (11 months, 29 days maximum).

Other consequences of a first time DUI conviction in Knoxville, Tennessee, include having your driver’s license revoked for one year, having to use an ignition interlock device when you get your license back (which requires you to use a breathalyzer before driving), and 24 hours of community service.

What to Expect From a DUI Conviction as a Second Time Offender in Knoxville, Tennessee

If you are convicted of a DUI for a second time in Knoxville, Tennessee, then your fines will be $600 to $3,500. Your jail sentence will be between 45 days and 11 months, 29 days. In some cases, you may be able to trade some jail time for some time in an inpatient drugs or alcohol treatment program. Your license can be revoked for two years for a second offense, and you may also have to forfeit your vehicle.

What to Expect From a DUI Conviction as a Third Time Offender in Knoxville, Tennessee

If you end up being convicted of a DUI charge for a third time in Knoxville, Tennessee, you can expect to pay fines between $1K and $10K. You will also have a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 120 days, though you could also face a sentence of 11 months, 29 days. Your license will be revoked for six years, and you are more likely to have to forfeit your vehicle.

What to Expect From a DUI Conviction as a Fourth Time Offender in Knoxville, Tennessee

Once you get to your fourth DUI charge in Knoxville, Tennessee, you can be convicted of a felony (Class E). This will involve a more serious criminal record, fines from $3K to $15K, and jail or prison time between 150 days and six years. Your license will be revoked for eight years, and you will probably have to forfeit your vehicle. Your incarceration will be followed by probation, community service, and counseling for drug or alcohol addiction. If anyone else was harmed through your behavior, then you will also have to pay the victims restitution for their damages.

The Barnes Law Firm Can Help You Get the Best Possible Outcome in Your DUI Case

If you are facing DUI charges in Knoxville, Tennessee, you want to have legal guidance and representation from an attorney who knows how get the best possible outcome for you. Working with an experienced Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI defense legal team can help you avoid conviction, minimize your charges, and potentially save you from a damaged reputation and further financial losses.  Call the Barnes Law Firm to learn more about how we can help you in your DUI defense.

DUI Defense law lawyer in Knoxville

Don’t Be Fooled By These Common DUI Myths in Knoxville, Tennessee

Tennessee is among the most strict states in the US when it comes to DUI charges. Yet, many people don’t realize how serious of a crime it is or how difficult it can be to successfully defend yourself against DUI charges in Knoxville, Tennessee. Today, we’re going to look at some of the most common myths and misconceptions that people frequently believe about driving under the influence and the impact that such charges can have on your life.

Myth: Your License Will Be Automatically Revoked if You Refuse a Blood Alcohol Test

When you get pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence in Knoxville, Tennessee, the police officer will probably ask you to take a blood alcohol content (BAC) breathalyzer test. While refusing to do so could lead to such consequences, because it does look suspicious to a jury, your license is not automatically revoked based on your refusal to take the BAC test.

Myth: You Are Automatically Guilty if Your BAC is Over the Legal Limit to Driver

While this makes a lot of sense on the surface, the reality is that there are many situations in which you may not be found guilty of a DUI, even though your BAC was over the legal limit. For example, there may be questions about the legitimacy of the test, about the time between driving and the BAC reading, or about whether or not you were even actually driving while your BAC was over the limit.

Myth: You Do Not Need an Attorney if You Are Innocent of the Alleged Crime

This myth comes from the common assumption that justice will prevail. The truth is that people really do end up convicted of crimes that they did not commit, and it really could happen to you. If you are accused of and charged with a crime in which you are innocent, it is essential to have skilled legal representation to ensure that you do not end up suffering the consequences of something you didn’t really do. Never assume that justice will prevail without an effective legal defense.

Myth: Your First DUI Offense is Not Going to Be Punished Too Harshly

Your first DUI in Knoxville, Tennessee, may not result in the more severe penalties of repeat offenders, but the consequences are still going to be harsh. You should not assume that you will be more likely to win your case or that your case is not that big of a deal, just because it is the first time you have been charged with a DUI. Keep in mind that most DUI charges are first offenses and are taken seriously.

Myth: You Don’t Need to Hire an Attorney Because One Will Be Provided

In some cases, you can have an attorney provided, but you will have to qualify as indigent, meaning that you do not have the financial means to hire an attorney. If you don’t qualify, you will not be provided with an attorney. Further, if you do get a free or ‘pro bono’ attorney, he or she is likely to have a very large case load. Thus, you may not get the attention and prioritization that you need to win your case.

Myth: The Influence of Prescribed Medication Does Not Count as Driving Under the Influence

It is understandable why so many people make the mistake of believing that the effects of their prescription medications don’t qualify for a charge of driving under the influence. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Anyone who takes prescribed medications is legally responsible for knowing how the medication affects them and whether or not they are safe to drive. If your medication prevents you from driving safely, then you can be charged with a DUI.

Myth: Minors Will Not Face Serious Consequences for a Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI Charge 

Drivers who are between the ages of sixteen and eighteen often think that they will not face serious consequences for a DUI charge because they are minors. The truth is that minors are held to a higher standard of sobriety because they are not legally allowed to have any BAC at all. While adults can drive with a BAC that is lower than .08%, minors can be charged with a DUI with a BAC of .0002%.

Myth: A DUI is Less Expensive Without a Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI Defense Attorney

Although it can cost a lot of money to work with a skilled Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI defense attorney, you are far more likely to face serious fines and penalties without one. Further, you still have to address your court costs. Working with an attorney can be costly, but it is because of the work that goes into saving you from a criminal record, from higher insurance premiums, and even from jail time.

Your attorney ensures that your case is thoroughly investigated and that all facts are taken into account. Then, they do everything they can to get the best possible outcome for you. In many cases, your DUI defense attorney will accept credit cards, and they may also have a different rate for first offenses. It is difficult to say exactly what you will end up paying for legal representation without seeking a free consultation with a Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI defense attorney. Some lawyers may end up charging less than $2,000, while others may charge more than $10,000. It depends on the case and the lawyer. Contact the Barnes Law Firm to learn more about what it may cost to defend you.

Keep in mind that the expenses of a conviction are likely to greatly outweigh the cost of your criminal defense. Your attorney can help you avoid the cost of high risk auto insurance with SR-22. Your attorney can keep you from having a lengthy jail sentence. Your attorney can help you get your charges reduced or dropped. If you are innocent, then your attorney can help to ensure that you don’t end up paying for a crime you didn’t commit. The consequences of a DUI charge can follow you for life, and if you don’t work with a skilled DUI defense attorney in Knoxville, you are likely to regret it.