Local Bar Committed to Serving Public Good

The Murfreesboro Voice published an article this week outlining the local bar association’s efforts to give back to the public through low-cost and no-cost legal services programs.

The article, written by Michelle Willard, provided information about the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission and included information about the Rutherford and Cannon County Bar Association as well.

Scott currently serves as the RCCBA President and is quoted in the article in full support of the Access to Justice goals and initiatives.

To learn more about the RCCBA Pro Bono programs, you can check out the RCCBA Website at rccba.com.

How Long Will My Conviction Remain on My Criminal Record and Background Check?

I am often asked “how long will a conviction remain on my criminal record?” The answer depends on the type of conviction. Depending on the type of conviction, it will remain on your record for one of three lengths of time: (1) until the end of your probation period; (2) for five years following the end of your probation period; or (3) for the rest of your life.

A criminal conviction is removed through expungement, which means to erase that criminal conviction from your record.

Expungement through Diversion
Under a diversion program, a defendant pleads guilty and enters into a probation period. If the defendant completes all the conditions of probation, and the probation period ends, the defendant can return to court and have the charge expunged from his record at that time.

Through a diversion program, a criminal conviction will remain on your criminal record until you return to court after the probation period and have it expunged.

Expungement through T.C.A. 40-32-101(G)
Under T.C.A. 40-32-101(G), a person may have a conviction expunged from their criminal record if: (1) the conviction qualifies for removal; (2) the person has had no criminal convictions since that conviction; and (3) the person has waited at least five years from the end of the sentence to ask for expungement.

If you meet all three requirements, you can petition the court to have your conviction expunged. Through this process, a criminal conviction will remain on your record for at least five years from the end of your sentence.

Convictions that cannot be Expunged
Unfortunately, there are some crimes that simply cannot be expunged from your criminal record. In such a situation, a conviction will remain on your criminal record, and be discovered in background checks, for the rest of your life.

To learn more about expungement, and to learn how you can access the courts to have your convictions removed, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

What is the Difference Between a Dismissal and a Retirement?

I am often asked what is the difference between a retirement and a dismissal? In short, the short term looks a lot different between these two things, but the long term looks the same.

What is a Dismissal?
A dismissal is exactly what it sounds like; the State dismisses the charge against you. In Murfreesboro criminal cases, for General Sessions and Circuit Court, the District Attorney may decide to dismiss charges for a number of reasons. A dismissal means that the State has decided not to pursue charges against you and will end the case at that time.

What is a Retirement?
A retirement is best described as a delay with a dismissal at the end. A retirement means that the case will be continued, which means we will pick a new court date in the future, for a certain period of time. After that period, if you have complied with certain requirements, then the case will be dismissed (see dismissal definition above).

What is the Difference Between a Dismissal and a Retirement?
The difference between a dismissal and a retirement is what happens in the short term during the first six months to a year after your court date. Under a dismissal, there is no immediate actions that you need to take. Under a retirement, you may be required to perform certain tasks or conditions.

If a case is dismissed, it is over, which means that you have no restrictions on your behavior and no conditions you have to complete. In the short term, you are free to act however you wish, just as you were prior to being arrested and/or charged. In the long term, your case is dismissed and expunged from your record.

If a case is retired, then the case is not over. Instead, you have a new court date, likely one year away, and you have a signed agreement that you will complete certain conditions during that year. If, and only if, you complete those conditions, then the case will be dismissed. In the long term, like a dismissal, your case is dismissed and expunged from your record.

As always, if you have questions about Murfreesboro criminal cases, consult a Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer about your case.

When Should I Waive My Miranda Rights?

Question: When should I waive my Miranda Rights in Tennessee and speak with police about a criminal case?

Answer: Never.

If police want to ask you questions or if you are arrested in Murfreesboro or Rutherford County, tell the police that you want a lawyer with you. Do not speak to law enforcement or answer any questions without your lawyer present.

I thought about writing more extensively on this subject, but that just about covers it.

Jail Time: Will I Have Time to Turn Myself In?

I am often asked “if I am sentenced to jail, will I have time to turn myself in?” The answer, in almost every case, is yes.

Plea Agreement
If you reach a plea agreement in your case, which is where you agree to plead guilty to a certain crime, part of the negotiated agreement will be a certain date upon which to turn yourself in. Plea agreements can be reached in misdemeanor cases, felony cases, and even violations of probation.

Typically, you will get thirty days to turn yourself in. However, your attorney may negotiate more time depending on your circumstances.

Failed Drug Screen on Court Date
In Rutherford County criminal cases where you are on probation at the time of your court date, the court requires you to take a drug screen on the day you are in court. If you fail the drug screen while on probation, the court will put you in jail immediately and revoke your bond.

If a court revokes your bond and sends you to jail, you will not have time to turn yourself in, but be sent to jail immediately.

Found Guilty at Trial
The Rules of Criminal Procedure have certain rules about when someone is turned over to jail.

In most cases, if a jury finds you guilty of a crime, the judge will order you to go to jail immediately, pending the sentencing hearing. In some cases, however, you may be allowed to remain outside of jail on bond until the court issues a sentence in the case.

Conclusion
In short, whether you will have time to turn yourself in depends on the kind of case you have. In most cases, the parties reach an agreement and are able to negotiate time to turn yourself into jail, which helps people plan ahead, provide for their families, and keep their jobs.