What is the Rutherford County Recovery Court?

On Tuesday, our office had the privilege of visiting the Rutherford County Recovery Court Open House to learn more about the services offered to criminal cases in Murfreesboro and all of Rutherford County.

This post is not based upon an official position from the Recovery Court. Instead, this post is based upon our experience working with these courts as well as what our clients relate back to us from their participation in the programs.

The Rutherford County Recovery Court includes at least four different programs: DUI Court, Drug Court, Mental Health Court, and Veterans Court. Each court is intended to address the underlying issues that may have led to criminal conduct, whether it is: alcohol dependency (DUI Court); drug dependency (Drug Court); untreated mental health issues (Mental Health Court); or service-related conditions (Veterans Court).

From our perspective, these programs benefit our clients significantly more than alternate sentencing or other conditions. If you put someone with an alcohol dependency in jail, they will ultimately be released back into the community with little, if any, treatment or acknowledgement of what caused the jail time. However, if you put someone with alcohol dependency into an intensive program like DUI Court, they will receive support and guidance upon re-entry into society, which will almost inevitably reduce the chances of more criminal conduct– which makes the community better!

Additionally, these programs are a cost-effective alternative to jail time. It costs Rutherford County over twenty-five thousand dollars to house one inmate for a year. In the alternative, the cost to put a participant through the Recovery Court hovers around five thousand dollars a year.

To summarize: Recovery Court has a higher chance of treating the underlying issues that led to someone being charged criminally and can do that at a lower cost than jail.

At our office, we are advocates for the Rutherford County Recovery Court. We have seen this program make a life-changing difference in the lives of many of our clients.

Very few people can truly say they change lives through their work. Here at our office, we believe that the staff at the Recovery Court can confidently say it and we are incredibly appreciative for their life-changing services. If you are reading this and you or a loved one works for the Recovery Court, please accept our sincere thanks.

You can learn more about the Rutherford County Recovery Court at: http://rutherfordcountytn.gov/recovery-court/

How Can I Avoid a Criminal Record?

When we meet with new clients facing criminal charges, whether it is Domestic Assault, Theft, Assault, or some other criminal charge, one of the most common questions we are asked is how do I protect my criminal record?

In Rutherford County criminal courts, charges are not often dismissed immediately. Instead, there are often two primary ways that our clients can protect their permanent criminal record: through use of a retirement or a diversion.

Retirement
District Attorneys have the discretion as prosecutors to determine when charges should result in a conviction. At times, the District Attorney decides to offer a retirement instead of a conviction.

When a charge is retired, the case gets continued for a set period of time, usually sixty days, ninety days, six months, or one year, during which time you will be asked to complete certain conditions. During this time, the Court will hold on to the criminal warrant without any finding of guilt. The Criminal Court Judge will set a review date for you to come back into the Court to review whether you have completed any required conditions and to confirm that you have not picked up any new criminal charges.

If you have successfully completed the retirement, the court will dismiss the criminal charges and have them expunged from your permanent record. As we said above, this is a great way to keep your criminal record clean!

Diversion
In Tennessee, every adult receives one diversion in their life. Under a diversion, you would actually admit guilt to the charged crime; however, the Court would not enter your guilt. Instead, the Court places you on probation for a set period of time and, if you complete your conditions, the charge may be erased from your record.

A diversion can be used for most non-violent criminal offenses (importantly excluding certain common charges like Driving Under the Influence and Reckless Endangerment by Motor Vehicle).  To qualify for a diversion, your attorney will need to submit an application to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to run a background check to determine if you have any disqualifying offenses.

If you have successfully completed the diversion, the court will dismiss the criminal charges and have them expunged from your permanent record. But be careful! If you do not complete your conditions, the Court can (and often will) enter a conviction against you without any further chance to fight the charges.

Conclusion
Both Diversion and Retirement can help you reach your end goal: a clean criminal record. Another way to help protect your record is to hire experienced, local, Murfreesboro attorneys. If you have any questions or would like to meet with either Scott or Chase, give the office a call at 615-890-1099.

If I Am Arrested, Should I Talk to Police?

The short answer to this question is NO.

If you are arrested in Tennessee, you have a number of constitutional rights, including (and most importantly) the right to remain silent and to not incriminate yourself, given to you by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

That’s not to say that it is always best to remain silent. There are times when speaking with the police may help everyone better understand what happened and also help your potential criminal prosecution, but this can be done with your lawyer present.

That’s why our short answer is NO. If your lawyer is not present, the answer is always NO. If your lawyer is present, you should communicate with law enforcement only through your lawyer.

By the way, this isn’t just the recommendation of some criminal defense attorneys in Murfreesboro. We have had several private conversations with prosecutors, deputies, detectives, and others in the criminal justice system. Without fail, every person confirms that if a friend or loved one were arrested, their advice would be to get a lawyer before speaking to the police.

If the police, prosecutors, and court staff won’t even speak to law enforcement without a lawyer present, why would you?

If you or a friend or loved one are arrested in Rutherford County or in Middle Tennessee and need help, feel free to contact our office. Our team of Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Attorneys is here to help—when it matters most.

The Most Important Factors in a DUI Case

We are often asked: what are the most important factors that impact a DUI Case in Rutherford County, Tennessee?

For DUI cases in Tennessee, there are two critical factors that play into any agreement that can be achieved with the District Attorney: (1) the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC); and (2) any prior convictions for Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

Let’s take a look at each of these factors in Rutherford County DUI cases.

How BAC Affects Your Case

Under Tennessee Law, it is unlawful for any person to either drive or be in the possession of any automobile (or other motor vehicle) while either: (1) under the influence of any intoxicant, marijuana, narcotic drug, or drug producing stimulating effects on the central nervous system; or (2) having a BAC of 0.08% or higher.

When you are arrested on suspicion of a DUI, the State will take a blood sample for testing with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations to determine the BAC. If the sample returns a positive BAC of 0.08%, or higher, the State will prosecute you as a DUI offender. If the sample returns under a BAC of 0.08%, the State will send the blood for further testing to determine whether any drugs were in your system.

The results of what is in your blood are eventually sent to the District Attorney, who will use the results to make an offer to settle your case. But the bloodwork isn’t the only thing that factors into a DUI case. The District Attorney will also consider any prior convictions that you may have.

How Prior Convictions Affect Your Case

As mentioned above, the State will make their initial offer once they receive the results of your blood testing. If the State pursues DUI prosecution against you, the offer you receive will depend upon your prior alcohol-related offenses, if any.

If you are charged with a DUI First Offense, the most common charge in Rutherford County that we see, the minimum penalties include:

  • Forty-Eight (48) Hours in Jail
  • $350.00 Fine
  • Eleven (11) Months and Twenty-Nine (29) Days Probation
  • Twelve (12) Hour Alcohol Safety School
  • DUI Victim Impact Panel
  • One (1) Year License Loss
  • Court Costs

If you are charged with a DUI Second Offense or higher, the minimum penalties increase for each additional offense on your record within the past ten years. For a summary of the minimum penalties for multiple DUI offenses, Click Here.

If you or a friend or loved one have been charged with a DUI Offense, you can call our experienced Murfreesboro DUI Attorneys for a free consultation. We are here to help. When it matters most.

Arrested for DUI. Is My Life Over?

If you are arrested and charged with DUI, is your life over? No. There are many things that you can do that will get you through this process, even if you end up with a conviction on your record, without any significant scars. However, you should expect to work to make this happen.

In Tennessee, a DUI Conviction carries a minimum forty-eight hours in jail, attendance for at least two different education classes, a one year license loss, court fines and costs, and one year of probation.

While that sounds bad, for DUI cases here in Rutherford County, there are opportunities to attend rehabilitative centers, which can count for time served in jail and which offer courses that will satisfy certain requirements under state law. There are also local businesses who will install an ignition interlock device and local agents who can offer SR-22 coverage, which will allow a restricted license even if you are convicted of DUI.

Note: Proof of both SR-22 Insurance and the installation of the Interlock Device are required to obtain a restricted license in Tennessee, which allows drivers to continue driving under certain circumstances even after a DUI Conviction.

All of the things listed above can be done before your court date, which will show everyone involved that you are taking this seriously and significantly increase your chances to get through this process without further damage to your life. Further, there are many successful people who have lived past a mistake in their life. You can persevere through this as well.

With mindful preparation and dedication to doing the work beforehand, you can get through this process without significant scars on your future. So no, your life is far from over.

If you have any questions or would like to set up a consultation to discuss any charges with our office, please reach out at 615-890-1099 to set up a time to come in and meet with Scott and Chase.