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.

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.