Useful Information About the Free Expungement Clinic

The Rutherford and Cannon County Bar Association (RCCBA) will be hosting a Free Expungement Clinic on Saturday, July 30, 2021. Our office wanted to take a minute to share more about this event.

An expungement is the legal process to erase or destroy criminal records. Once a criminal record is expunged, the clerk destroys all record of it.

In Rutherford County Criminal Courts, there are different types of cases that can be expunged:

  • First, cases that have been dismissed can be expunged. Even though the case has been dismissed, that charge may still show on a background check—you have the right to have it expunged!
  • Second, cases that have been retired or diverted can be expunged. These are legal processes through which the prosecutors agree to have the case expunged at some later date, not right away.
  • Third, some convictions may be eligible to be expunged. We are not handling these at the July Expungement Clinic, but we can help guide you through this process even if it can’t be completed that day.

For most cases, the expungement process requires hiring a lawyer or contacting the District Attorney. At this clinic, however, volunteer attorneys will be on hand to assist applicants who may be eligible to have their records expunged.

Expungements are a great asset to our community. They can help people clear up criminal records that may prevent employment, housing, or other advancement opportunities. If you or someone you know needs help with an expungement, never hesitate to reach out. At the least, we can point you in the right direction!

For more information on the 2021 RCCBA Expungement Clinic, you may visit: www.MurfreesboroLawyer.com/expungements.

How To Make Your Voice Heard in Your Divorce

One of the most common questions we are asked in meetings is some variation of will I have a say in the path my divorce takes? or how can I make sure that my voice is heard in my divorce case? The first time I heard this question I was honestly shocked. Now, several years down the road, I am still answering this.

The short answer: Yes! You will absolutely have a say in your own case! And we will help you know the best ways to make sure that it happens.

When you make the choice to separate and divorce a spouse, it is likely the most important thing going on in your life. You are facing not only a divorce, but also dividing assets, assigning debts, dividing retirements, and potentially selling your home.

All of these issues, standing alone, are major life changes. But all of these issues happening at once can be overwhelming without the right support. Here at our office, we offer two simple pieces of advice to ensure that your voice is heard in your divorce case.

Develop a Stable Method of Communication. Every person is different and every law firm is different. At the beginning of your case, find a method of communication that works efficiently for both you and your lawyer. Whether it is phone, email, or carrier pigeon, the most important thing is that you and your lawyer have regular access to the communication method.

When All Else Fails, Set a Meeting. If, for any reason, communication breaks down with your lawyer, make sure to select a lawyer who is open to meeting at any time, at your discretion. We often tell clients that we may be busy when they call in; however, they are always welcome to set a meeting to make sure we are on the same page.

We typically end a conversation with a potential client by telling them this: find an attorney that you are comfortable with, that you believe will understand you, and that you believe will fight for you, and hire that person. As you can tell by the two ways that you can make your voice heard, having a trusted line of communication is a critical component as well.

No one likes being treated like a number on a spreadsheet. Our team of Murfreesboro attorneys spend the time to get to know you, learn what is important to you, and know how to achieve it. If you or someone you know are considering divorce, child custody, child support, or other family law issue give us a call.

Two Practical Reasons Mediation is Required in Family Law Cases

In the Chancery Court and Circuit Court of Rutherford County, there is a requirement that certain types of cases, such as divorces, parenting plans, parenting plan changes, go to Mediation before a Trial.

The main reason that Mediation is required before a divorce case goes to trial is because that’s the law. T.C.A. 36-4-131 very clearly requires all family law cases go to mediation (however, there are certain exceptions to this that you should discuss with your lawyer).

That said, there are also two practical reasons that Mediation is required in Family Law Cases: first, Mediation saves the court calendar for cases that cannot settle; and second, Mediation saves the parties from further emotional and financial expense of trial.

Rutherford County Divorce cases are numerous. Each Divorce Judge handles hundreds of cases. Mediation is necessary for every case because it saves the court calendar for the cases that truly have no chance of agreement. If we had a nickel for every time a client swore to us “this case will never settle so mediation is stupid,” only to have that exact case settle at mediation, we may be rich. Every case is required to give it a shot because every case might settle, and that settlement can save the court some time.

Rutherford County Divorce cases are also expensive. Most attorneys bill these cases by the hour and, by the time you have reached Mediation, there is a significant chance that you would need to pay more money to go to a Divorce Trial and suffer more emotional stress through that Divorce Trial process. Settlement at Mediation has the chance to save all parties further financial damage, and, even more importantly, to spare all the parties from further emotional damage of a court case.

Those are two of the more practical reasons that Mediation is required in Rutherford County Family Law Cases. If you or someone you know are considering divorce, child custody, child support, or other family law issue give us a call at 615-890-1099. Scott Kimberly and Chase Doscher are thoroughly experienced in guiding divorce, parenting plan, and custody clients through the mediation process and are here to answer any questions.

How to Ensure COVID-19 Closures Don’t Harm Your Criminal Case

One aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic that we did not fully anticipate is a large scale closure of criminal courts in Rutherford County, Tennessee, and the rest of the country.

As a quick refresher, the Tennessee Supreme Court issued a suspension of in court proceedings through the end of March 2021. That Order has now been scaled back to March 15, 2021, but the impact has been felt by thousands of individuals arrested in Murfreesboro, Smyrna, and the rest of Tennessee.

One of the most common questions we have been asked is will the suspension negatively impact or hurt my case?

In most cases, the answer is simply no. However, there are also things you can be doing to ensure that your case will not be harmed by the closure.

In Murfreesboro criminal cases, time can be your best friend. The more time that passes in a criminal case, the more chances you have to show the District Attorney a track record of months in which you have not been charged with new offenses, can pass drug screens, donate time through community service, and satisfy conditions of a potential resolution of the case.

While the suspension of court proceedings serves an important and legitimate purpose, as Murfreesboro criminal defense attorneys, we fully understand the weight that pending charges can cause to the individual, their families, and their community. While we all wait for the courts to reopen in Mid-March our team encourages you to use this time wisely and work to put yourself in the best possible position to reach a positive and efficient resolution to your case.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offense in Rutherford County give our office a call at 615-890-1099. Our team of experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense attorneys have the knowledge and community resources to help get you on through the obstacles you are facing and on to the rest of your life.

Should I Tell My Attorney the Truth Even If It Makes Me Look Bad?

Yes! Absolutely yes. As attorneys, we have two different obligations. We are obligated to fight for our clients to help achieve what is most important to them, but we are also ethically obligated to be truthful and honest to the Court.

This is a common concern that we have heard over years of being Murfreesboro attorneys. Weekly, we hear someone say something like (1) “will this make me look bad?…” (2) “I don’t want anyone to know about…” and (3) “Please don’t judge me for…”

Let’s take each of those in turn. First, if you are concerned that something will make you look bad, and even if the truth does make you look bad, you should still tell your lawyer!. A good lawyer will have resources and knowledge in Murfreesboro and throughout Middle Tennessee that can help deal with the impact of what you tell us.

Second, if you are concerned about someone finding out what you tell your lawyer, you should know that what is shared between clients and attorneys is covered by confidentiality and will not be disclosed without your consent.

Third, if you are concerned about being judged, you may need to take a deeper look at your attorney-client relationship. Finding an attorney who you are comfortable with, who you trust, and who you believe will go to bat for you is the most critical part of the hiring process. If you feel judged, it may be time to make a change.

A lawyer’s abilities, advocacy, and negotiations rely heavily on a mastery of the facts surrounding a client’s case. If we do not know everything, including the bad facts, we cannot fully do our job. This rings true in criminal, divorce, custody, or personal injury law. When in doubt, tell the truth—and the whole truth!