Doscher Appointed RCCBA Public Service Chair

Our very own Murfreesboro Attorney Chase Doscher has been appointed to serve as the Rutherford and Cannon County Bar Association Public Service Chair, which focuses on the operation of the RCCBA Legal Clinic.

The RCCBA Legal Clinic began over fifteen years ago at Greenhouse Ministries in Murfreesboro. Over the years, several local attorneys have volunteered time to assist in managing the Clinic. Recently, the Legal Aid Society has provided tremendous support to the Clinic as well.

Scott previously served as RCCBA Public Service Chair, helping coordinate the Legal Clinic for two years from 2015-2017. Chase began volunteering at Legal Clinic when he joined the office in early 2019 and has now been given a leadership role to assist those in need.

The Mission of Legal Aid is to advance, defend, and enforce the legal rights of low-income and vulnerable people in order to secure for them the basic necessities of life. As part of its mission, Legal Aid assists with legal clinics throughout the State of Tennessee, which provide an opportunity for members of the community to meet with a volunteer lawyer to discuss a legal problem.

The RCCBA Legal Clinic meets every second and fourth Thursday of the month at Greenhouse Ministries, 309 South Spring Street, Murfreesboro, TN 37130. Sign-ups begin at 2:30 p.m. and those in need are served on a first-come, first-served basis. We have supported this program for years and we look forward to Chase serving in this critical role for our community.

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.

How Long Will My Divorce Take?

It likely will not shock anyone to learn that one of the first questions that we are asked as divorce attorneys is something like “how long will my divorce in Rutherford County take?”

As the old lawyer jokes run, the answer is simply: it depends.

The timeline for divorce in Rutherford County varies depending on which of the two routes you choose to get you to the finish line: whether it is agreed or contested.

The Waiting Period
Regardless of whether your case is agreed upon or not, Tennessee has what is called the “cooling off period” which effectively is a mandatory waiting period before the Court will sign off on your divorce.

If there are no minor children, you are looking at sixty (60) days to wait before the judge will sign. If you do have minor children, then you are in the window of ninety (90) days. Ordinarily, after the waiting period passes, it takes the Judge a week to process and sign the documents if the parties are in agreement.

Agreed Divorce
AKA Uncontested Divorce, Irreconcilable Differences Divorce
Let’s first take on the straightforward option. An uncontested divorce is what it sounds like: it’s based on an agreement. This agreement encompasses everything that is built up during the course of a marriage and includes your stuff, your kids, your money, etc.

In this process, we are hired to draft all divorce documents necessary and to take the agreement of the parties and put it into court-approved forms and language. Between preparing, signing, and filing these documents, it usually takes a couple of weeks.

All in, and assuming that both sides sign documents within a week of drafting, you are looking at roughly three months for an agreed divorce without children and four months if you have minor children.

Contested Divorce
As straight forward as the agreed divorce timeline is, contested is the opposite.

Here, we are hired to draft a complaint for divorce and have it served by private process server on your spouse. They have thirty (30) days to respond to the complaint. If they do not, you move forward on a default basis which can usually be done right at the end of the waiting period. If your spouse does respond with their answer, then the case may take several months to resolve.

Just as in the ID divorce process, the cooling off period is still applicable. However, the difference between the two is that, unlike in the ID process where the period begins upon all the documents being filed with the Court, the period for contested divorces begins when only the complaint is filed.

Looking at the contested route from 30,000 feet above, the timeline can be as quickly as the parties can agree to terms, including the sixty (60) or ninety (90) day waiting period, or as long as it takes to resolve every outstanding issue between you and your spouse. In all, it just depends on the unique circumstances of each case.

No matter if you are facing an agreed divorce or a contested divorce, our office has experienced divorce attorneys to help you every step of the way. Feel free to give us a call to discuss.


Scott Kimberly and Chase Doscher are Criminal Defense Attorneys and Divorce Attorneys in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. If you need any assistance, you may reach us at 615-890-1099.

Do I Have to go to Court for My Divorce?

We are often asked “do I have to go to court for my divorce?” As Murfreesboro Divorce Lawyers, this is an interest we see come up all the time.

The short answer is yes, but if you have an experienced divorce lawyer and/or the right forms to use with the courts, you can waive your appearance and not have to go.

In all divorce cases, the court must sign a Final Decree of Divorce to complete the case. This Final Decree is only signed after a hearing. Typically, the parties are required to attend that hearing and give testimony. However, in recent years, our courts have allowed our clients to file an Affidavit that basically says “Hey Court, you can have that hearing without me.”

If you properly file an Affidavit, the Court will have your Final Hearing without you there, sign your Final Decree, and get you divorced.

So, again, the short answer is yes you will have a hearing, but you can skip that hearing with the right preparation and an experienced divorce lawyer in Rutherford County on your side.


Scott Kimberly and Chase Doscher practice at The Law Office of W. Scott Kimberly, located in the Historic Smith & Sellers Building on the Murfreesboro Public Square. If you or a loved one need help in divorce, child custody, or any other family law matter, we can help.