Topic: Criminal Defense

How to Stay Safe at Summer Music Festivals

The summer music festival season is upon us. With Riverbend and Bonnaroo underway, you’re no doubt looking forward to hanging out with friends, maybe having a few drinks, and enjoying the weather while listening to some great bands at this year’s summer music festivals.

Though your priority is to have fun, it’s important to think about safety, as well. Here are six tips to help you stay safe during your summer music festival experience.

1. Know the Rules and the Festival Layout

Before going to a music festival, look it up online to get a feel for its layout. Get familiar with all of the exits, medical tents, and water stations, in case of an emergency.

Also, know what you can and can’t bring to the festival, including weapons. Some festivals have changed their rules this year and no longer permit handguns.

When it comes to parking, make sure you park in a designated area, so you won’t get towed or blocked in. You can snap a picture or make a quick note on your phone so it’s easier to find your car when it’s time to go. And leave the emergency lanes for ambulances and firetrucks, in case there’s an emergency.

2. Use the Buddy System

If you’re going with friends, coordinate a system with someone you trust, so you can look out for one another. Also arrange a meeting place where can meet up if you get separated.

If you’re traveling alone, introduce yourself to your camping neighbors, so someone will know you’re there and will sound the alarm if you don’t return when expected. Also, make sure you’ve got someone available to pick you up in case something happens to you. Memorize or write down their number, in case your phone dies and you have to borrow someone else’s.

3. Bring Your Phone (and Charger!)

It’s important that when you’re going to a music festival, especially one where you’ll be gone for several days, to always bring your phone and a portable charger so that your friends and family know how to contact you, or vice versa. A solar charger can be a good option if you’ll be away from other power sources for long periods.

4. Stay Hydrated and Stay Cool

It’s important to drink plenty of water while you’re out in the summer heat. Most summer music festivals offer free water stations. Seek those out, especially if it’s hot out and you’ve consumed any alcohol.

Also wear lightweight clothing to stay cooler. To help protect your skin and eyes, wear a hat and sunglasses. And don’t forget the sunscreen!

5. Drink Responsibly

Having an alcoholic beverage while listening to music outdoors can be fun, but make sure you don’t overdo it. Drink wisely, and don’t take a drink from a stranger, because you won’t be sure what’s in it. Similarly, it’s best to avoid drinks being dipped out of open coolers or containers.

If you overdo it, get a ride home with a friend, or hail a cab or ride-sharing service.

Learn what to do if you’re charged with your first DUI.

6. Leave Your Valuables at Home

You’re going to a music festival, not the MET Gala. Try to resist bringing expensive jewelry, loads of cash or expensive clothes. Thieves target easy grabs like wallets, purses and jewelry. Backpacks are easy to unzip (and empty!) without notice, so bring only what you need, and store those items in a safe place, like a zippable fanny pack or other pouch you can wear where it’s visible to you at all times.

Contact a Chattanooga Defense Lawyer

In the event you’re charged with public intoxication, DUI, or other crimes during a summer music festival, an attorney from Speek, Webb, Turner & Newkirk can help protect your rights. Contact us at (423) 531-2800 to schedule a consultation.

Photo by Aranxa Esteve on Unsplash

Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Facing criminal charges can put you under a lot of pressure, so you’ll want to quickly hire a lawyer. Before you pick the first defense attorney who pops up in your Google search, though, take the time to ask some important questions. They’ll help you hire an attorney you feel comfortable with and think is most capable of achieving a successful outcome for you in court.Here are five questions to ask before hiring a criminal defense lawyer:

Is the initial consultation free?

Most criminal lawyers offer the first consultation for free. This is your chance to get to know each other and get a reading on whether you could have a cooperative relationship. In this meeting, the lawyer should ask about your criminal charges, the details of your arrest, your previous criminal history, and your educational and employment background. At the end of the meeting, the attorney will have a better sense of what to expect in your case and will give you a quote for their fees and services.

Is the defense attorney experienced in handling cases similar to yours?

When you’re facing criminal charges, you need to feel confident about your attorney’s experience and capabilities. Ask questions about the lawyer’s educational background and criminal defense experience. To find out more about their professional experience, ask about the percentage of cases they handle for clients facing charges similar to yours, what kind of relationship they have with prosecutor’s office, and how often their clients go to trial.

Although there are many capable “general practice” lawyers, you need someone experienced in criminal law and who has dealt with many cases similar to yours.

What is the lawyer’s opinion on your case?

A criminal defense lawyer with years of practice in cases like yours will be able to give you a professional opinion about what you may expect. Your lawyer should not only answer your questions, but should also inform you about your options, what is in your favor or working against you, and how the whole process will work.

It’s unethical for a lawyer to guarantee specific results, however. Beware of anyone who promises a certain outcome.

Get answers to some of our frequently asked questions.

Is the firm equipped to handle your case?

Putting a case together requires a lot of behind-the-scenes research and logistics work. So, you want to choose a lawyer who has enough qualified staff to manage the details of your case. This is not the time to be David facing down Goliath! A one or two person firm, for example, may not have the resources you need to effectively stand up against the manpower in the District Attorney’s office.

Other questions to ask about the firm include:

  • Who will represent me in court, you or someone else?
  • Who should I contact with questions?
  • What’s the best way to get in touch?
  • Will the firm handle appeals?
  • Can I meet everyone who will be working on my case?

Learn about our areas of practice.

How much do you charge, and how are the fees structured?

Before hiring an attorney, have a direct conversation about their fees. You’ll want to work with the best lawyer you can afford without creating a financial burden for yourself.

Some lawyers will charge an initial retainer plus an hourly rate. Their rates can vary greatly and can get expensive if your trial lasts several months. Other lawyers charge a flat fee for pretrial motions and another rate if your case goes to court. Make sure you understand every service they’ll provide and how they charge for each.

No matter how their fees are structured, the lawyer charging the highest price may not be the most qualified for your case. Do be prepared, however, to pay more for a criminal defense attorney who has trial experience and a great reputation for aggressive representation.

Asking these questions before hiring a criminal defense lawyer should help you select the best attorney for your situation.

Contact a Chattanooga Defense Lawyer

Contact us at 423-531-2800 if you or someone you know is facing criminal charges. We will be happy to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.

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Misdemeanor charges in Tennessee

A misdemeanor is a criminal conviction with penalties of up to a year of jail time. Misdemeanors are usually punishable with a fine, probation, jail time, or a combination including of all these. Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies but more serious than infractions.  

What Crimes are Misdemeanors?

What’s considered a misdemeanor varies by jurisdiction. Generally, crimes like vandalism, public intoxication, trespassing, theft under $1,000.00, DUI, and disorderly conduct are misdemeanors.

Related topic: Three Reasons to Hire a Defense Attorney When Charged with a Felony

Misdemeanor Charges in Tennessee

In Tennessee, there are three classes of misdemeanors: A, B, and C. A misdemeanor in Tennessee carries these penalties:

  • Class A: Up to 11 months, 29 days in jail and/or fines up to $2,500. Examples include domestic assault, DUI and possession of drug paraphernalia.
  • Class B: Not more than six months in jail and/or fines up to $500. Examples include prostitution and reckless driving.
  • Class C: Not more than 30 days in jail and/or fines up to $50. Examples include speeding and public intoxication.

Although misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, misdemeanor charges do go on your record for life. They can affect your ability to land a job, buy a house, or get licenses you need. Employers are generally less concerned with misdemeanors than with felonies, but that can vary. It depends on the employer, the nature of the crime, and how recently the crime was committed. For example, a public intoxication conviction that’s 15 years old may not be an issue, but a recent prostitution charge could keep you from getting a job.

A misdemeanor charge is something to take seriously, because a conviction typically can’t be expunged and will forever stay on your permanent record. That’s why it’s important to quickly hire a criminal attorney with experience handling cases like yours.

Related topic: How Arrest Warrants Work

Even if you’re not convicted, simply having a dismissed charge or an arrest for a misdemeanor can negatively impact your job prospects, so it’s always a good idea to work with a criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer may work with you to get your record expunged.

Facing Misdemeanor Charges in Tennessee? Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Criminal charges often result in fines, jail time, stress, and even job loss. If you need help addressing your Class A, B, or C misdemeanor charges, contact our experienced team of criminal defense attorneys today at 423-531-2800 for a free consultation.

Image by barbol88 on iStock.

What Happens When You Get Your First DUI

Each state defines DUI differently, but driving under the influence is illegal in every state. The penalties vary and could include jail time, paying fines, seeking substance abuse education or treatment, and having your license revoked.

Here’s a quick rundown of what happens when you get your first DUI.

You’ll get arrested.

First, you’ll be arrested and booked on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

You’ll be asked to appear in court.

This is when you’ll be asked to plead innocent or guilty. Hiring a DUI attorney before this court appearance is your best bet for reducing the long-term consequences of the DUI charge. Your lawyer will be familiar with the rules, legal standards and available options in your jurisdiction.

You’ll lose your license.

In every state, even first-time DUI offenders have their licenses suspended for a period of time. In Tennessee, the suspension is typically for one year. If your license is suspended, You may be able to apply for a hardship license or restricted license to drive with an ignition interlock device.

Learn more about DUI charges in our blog, What to Do if Charged with a DUI.

You’ll pay fines.

The amount you’ll pay can really add up. The fines depend on your state’s laws, whether anyone or anything was harmed, and the severity of your charges. In addition to the fines, you’ll probably also have to pay court fees.

You could be put on probation or sent to jail.

In some states, like Tennessee, a DUI comes with mandatory jail time. That ranges from 48 hours to just shy of a year. In other states, you could be put on probation and will need to follow the conditions of the probation period.

You’ll participate in an alcohol or drug treatment program.

Often called drunk driving school, these classes teach DUI prevention. The goal is to keep you and others safe by preventing you from driving under the influence in the future. You’ll most likely have to pay a fee to take the classes.

You may get an ignition interlock device.

If convicted of a DUI in Tennessee, you’ll have to install an ignition interlock device at your own expense. The device won’t let your car start until you blow into it with with no alcohol on your breath. You’ll also pay a monthly fee as long as the ignition interlock device is in your car.

Learn more about DUI laws in Tennessee.

The charge will follow you to work.

Because a DUI conviction becomes part of your criminal record, it will appear on future background checks. The DUI may prevent you from getting the job you want.

You’ll pay more for car insurance.

In most cases, a DUI conviction will translate into higher auto insurance premiums.

As you can see, your first DUI comes with hefty costs and long-term consequences. It also sets the tone for future sentences and charges if you’re charged with driving under the influence again. Hiring an experienced DUI lawyer will help you navigate through the entire process and get your life back on track. Your attorney may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed, depending on the details of your case.

Contact a Chattanooga DUI Lawyer

DUI charges can have an impact on your freedom, career, and future. At Speek, Webb, Turner & Newkirk, we understand how important it is to set the tone with your first DUI. Please contact us today if you need help addressing your DUI charge.

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Theft, Burglary, and Robbery in Tennessee

Knowing the differences between theft, burglary, and robbery in Tennessee will help you understand the various consequences for each charge. Though they sound similar, slight variations between theft crimes affect each crime’s associated penalties.

Here’s a quick guide to theft, burglary, and robbery in Tennessee:

 

Theft

If you take property or services without the owner’s consent, you’re committing theft. Tennessee law uses theft as an umbrella term that covers embezzlement, false pretenses, fraudulent conversion, larceny, and receiving stolen property.

Charges for theft depend on the value of property or services stolen. The charges can range from misdemeanor to felony. The harshest charge for theft is a Class B Felony, if the stolen items or services are valued at over $60,000. This charge comes with an 8-30 year sentence and a fine not to exceed $25,000.

Burglary

Burglary is entering a dwelling, such as a home or business, without the owner’s consent or knowledge and with the intent to commit a crime. Breaking into a house and stealing its contents while the owners are sleeping, for example, is aggravated burglary.

The minimum charge for Burglary starts as a Class E Felony, if the structure was a vehicle, which carries a sentence of 1-6 years of prison and a fine of up to $3,000. If the burglary is a business, it is a Class D Felony. However, Aggravated Burglary, which includes entering a residence, can be defined as a Class C Felony.

Robbery

Robbery is using violence or a threat of physical harm to steal from a victim, so it’s a combination of theft and violence. Of all the theft crimes, robbery can carry the harshest penalty, a Class A Felony, with mandatory prison time.  

The minimum charge for robbery starts as a Class C Felony, for a crime like purse snatching.

Aggravated Robbery is a Class B Felony and carries a sentence of 8-30 years. For the crime to be considered Aggravated Robbery, it must involve both a theft, and either personal injury to a victim or the use of a weapon to commit the crime. Stealing cash while holding up a store clerk with a gun is an example of Aggravated Robbery.

The third type of robbery is Especially Aggravated Robbery, which means that both a theft occurred and bodily harm was inflicted on a victim. This Class A Felony will carry 15-60 years in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000.

Facing any legal troubles involving theft charges can have damaging and far-reaching consequences. An experienced theft attorney will work hard to minimize or your charges or get them dropped altogether.

Contact a Chattanooga Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know is facing charges for a theft crime, an experienced theft attorney will be your best defense. Contact us at 423.531.2800 to set up a consultation with one of our experienced defense attorneys.

Photo by tommaso79 on iStock

how-do-arrest-warrants-work

Most of us are familiar with the idea of a warrant, but you may not understand the ins and outs of how arrest warrants work. You may even have an open warrant right now, which means you could be arrested at any minute, even if the warrant is years old! Knowing what to do may help you avoid being arrested or detained.

Let’s take a look at what arrest warrants are and how they work in real life.

 

WHAT is an arrest warrant?

An arrest warrant gives law enforcement officials the right to arrest a crime suspect.

The purpose of an arrest warrant is to bring the person suspected of committing a crime into court to be tried. In addition, a warrant helps ensure the suspect won’t continue committing the same crime or others. The warrant should also keep the individual from obstructing justice or interfering with the investigation.

Related topic: What to do When You’ve Been in a Car Accident

WHO issues a warrant?

Typically, the arrest warrant process begins when a crime is committed out of view of a police officer. A law enforcement official or prosecutor will develop a case that provides probable cause for arresting a suspect. The case will then be presented before a judge in the court of law. If probable cause has been made, the presiding judge will grant the arrest warrant.

The stronger the evidence, the quicker a warrant will be issued.

Since issuing an arrest warrant is a serious decision, most officers and prosecutors try to present solid evidence

WHEN can you be arrested?

Once the arrest warrant process is complete, law enforcement officers can arrest the suspect named on the warrant anytime, anywhere. However, almost every city in the U.S. has thousands of warrants issued at any time, leaving officers inundated with unfulfilled warrants. This is what the term outstanding warrant refers to.

Because so many warrants may be outstanding at once, police officers typically prioritize arrests by the severity of the crime. Occasionally, law enforcement officials hold warrant round-ups, like this one, in concerted efforts to arrest offenders.

Note that if a police officer sees you committing a crime, he or she can arrest you on the spot – without an arrest warrant.

WHAT should you do if there’s a warrant against you?

If you could be a suspect in a theft, murder, rape case or other crime, there may be an outstanding warrant against you. In Hamilton County, you can search the sheriff’s office for open warrants.

Once you’ve confirmed that there IS a warrant in your name, be proactive. Read the warrant information carefully to understand when and why a judge issued the warrant. Also look to see what kind of charges, misdemeanor or felony,  you could be facing.

Next, contact a criminal defense attorney. An experienced attorney will walk you through your options and smooth the process for you. For example, the lawyer may be able to arrange for you to turn yourself in or appear in court for an arraignment, without you having to go to jail.

If you are arrested before hiring an attorney, stay calm, and remember you always have the right to remain silent. Ask to speak to a lawyer before you answer any questions.

Your criminal defense attorney will explain your rights and guide you through every step of the process.

Contact a Chattanooga Defense Lawyer

If you need help addressing an arrest warrant, contact our criminal defense lawyers at Speek, Webb, Turner & Newkirk.

Contact Speek, Webb, Turner & Newkirk
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