Criminal Law

Have you been accused of a crime and are now awaiting the stressful experience of a trial and possible conviction? Throughout the trial process, you will have to submit evidence and testimony.  This is in order to prove your innocence, all while under fire from an aggressive prosecutor who wants to see you punished, rightfully or otherwise. It is vital to understand criminal law and procedures in order to provide the most solid defense in your case. However, you should not have to undergo this arduous trial alone.

Under Tennessee Law, you are entitled to a defense attorney if you have been charged with a crime. You should seek lawyers who have years of experience in criminal defense and who have a successful record of representing clients in similar kinds of cases. Look no further than Griffin & Davis, PLLC. Our attorneys have won cases throughout Middle and Eastern Tennessee and we can help you too.

According to statistics collected by the FBI, in 2017, Tennessee experienced a crime rate of 651.5 incidents per 100,000 people, well above the national rate of 394 per 100,000 people, and slightly above Tennessee’s 2016 rate of 638.5 per 100,000. Representing an all-time high in the past decade, more and more violent crimes continue across the state every day.

When so many offenses are being committed all at once, law enforcement agencies are bound to get an arrest or two wrong. You might be carted off to jail and awaiting arraignment simply for matching the description of a suspect, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or due to an accusation by a malicious party. Naturally, in this scenario, it is normal to feel pangs of anxiety and wonder if your life will ever get back on a normal track.

The lawyers at Griffin & Davis, PLLC have over 40 years of combined legal experience, handling criminal defense law and other areas, and we want to put our passion for our work to your case. If you have been accused of a criminal offense and require representation, you need the assistance of an aggressive criminal attorney who understands Tennessee laws and how to navigate the complicated legal system.

Felonies vs. Misdemeanors

Felonies and misdemeanors represent two categories of severity when it comes to crimes. It is important to know the difference between the two, especially if you are accused of one of them. Knowing the distinctions between them will better prepare you during a trial, as you might expect to be treated differently depending on how severe the charges against you are

Felonies are the most serious of the two categories and conviction of a felony will incur more serious penalties such as incarceration, fines, or some combination of the two. Felonies themselves are divided into five subcategories, from Classes A through F. The differences include:

Class A Felonies

Class A Felonies are the second-most serious crimes after crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment. Under Tennessee Law, they are punishable by 15-60 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

Examples: First-degree murder; kidnapping; aggravated rape

Class B Felonies

Less serious, Class B felonies are still punishable by 8-30 years in prison and a fee of up to $25,000.

Examples: Aggravated sexual assault; manslaughter

Class C Felonies

Class C Felonies come with prison times of 3-15 years and fines of up to $10,000

Example: Aggravated assault

Class D Felonies

Class D felonies are punishable with 2-12 years of prison time and a max fine of $5,000

Examples: Robbery; burglary; fraud; theft

Class E Felonies

These are the least serious of felonies.  They are punishable by 1-6 years in prison and a fine of up to $3,000

Examples: Reckless endangerment; drug possession; small theft

On the other hand, misdemeanors are less serious crimes.  These carry with them shorter prison sentences, smaller fines, or the possibility of alternative sentences, such as community service or state-mandated classes. Like felonies, misdemeanors are also split into categories; however, there are only three types of misdemeanor crimes, which are:

Class A Misdemeanors

The most serious misdemeanors carry with them a fine of up to $2,500 and no more than 11 months, 29 days prison time.

Example: Possession of a small amount of marijuana

Class B Misdemeanors

Conviction of a Class B misdemeanor will bring with it up to a six-month jail sentence and a fine of up to $500.

Example: Prostitution

Class C Misdemeanors

The least serious of the misdemeanors, under Class C, you may face up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $50.

Example: Public intoxication

 

If you would like to know whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, give Griffin & Davis, PLLC a call and speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney who can answer your questions. Under the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, anyone charged with a crime has the right to an attorney to defend him or her in a court of law. Working with a defense attorney and figuring out what kind of crime of which you are accused will help set what kind of defense strategy that will be utilized and how to best approach proving your innocence.

Pre-Trial Process

From 2017 to 2018, of the 174,757 case filings brought to Tennessee state courts, 158,715 ultimately saw dispositions. While the plurality of cases (66,130, or 41.7%) ended with defendants found guilty as charged, almost as many cases were dismissed altogether (63,138, or 39.8%). It is important to understand how a trial begins and is conducted, in the event that you are ever brought before a court.

The search, arrest, and arraignment of the client will occur during the pre-trial period of the criminal process. Police officers and investigators can do a search of your property and possessions after receiving an official warrant from a judge. During this search, if they find evidence of probable cause, police officials can then make an arrest. An arrest CANNOT be made without probable cause. Police officials can also make an arrest without needing a warrant if a crime occurs in front of an officer. Officers may seize property or materials as evidence to later be presented at court.

After police have made an arrest, under the Fifth Amendment, you have constitutional rights to remain silent, not incriminate yourself, and have an attorney. This is also known as your Miranda rights. These must be read to you upon your arrest. If law enforcement officials decline to read you your Miranda rights, any statements you give cannot be used as evidence against you.

Within three days following your arrest, you will undergo an arraignment, where you will be asked to show in court to enter your plea. You can plead:

  • Not guilty, which means you declare you did not commit a crime;
  • Guilty, which means you admit to committing the crime; or
  • No Contest, wherein you do not admit to the crime and you do not dispute charges.

You might also decide to take a plea bargain, admitting to guilt of lesser crimes or charges in order to receive a lighter sentence. Sometimes prosecutors will negotiate lighter sentences in exchange for your testimony against another who was involved in a crime. Always consult your defense attorney before even considering accepting a plea bargain.

Pretrial Hearing

A pre-trial hearing occurs before the actual trial. It is separate from a plea bargain and seeks to resolve legal issues before the trial occurs.

No proceedings with law enforcement and judges should occur without an attorney present, as you may not know all the legal options available to you that a team of lawyers working on your case would be able to. Our legal team at Griffin & Davis, PLLC is committed to ensuring you receive the best legal counsel possible. If you find yourself arrested and charged with a crime in Tennessee, call the a skilled attorneys at Griffin & Davis, PLLC to discuss your charges and find out how we can help you get the best possible outcome in your case.  

Trial

A vast majority of the time, defendants will partake in a jury trial, in which a group of impartial individuals observe the trial and make the ultimate decision upon its conclusion. Trials by jury are guaranteed under the Constitution’s Sixth Amendment; however, if a defendant waives their right to a jury trial and it is approved by both the government and the court, a bench trial can occur instead. Like knowing the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor, it is equally important to understand the distinctions between jury trials and bench trials, in order to best prepare for the kind of defense that will work best in your situation.

During a jury trial, the jury is presented evidence from each side of the case and then makes a verdict. A judge is also present during a jury trial and they handle legal and procedural questions. The jury must all be unanimous in their verdict.  Either all deciding the defendant is guilty or all deciding they are not guilty. If the jury is not all in agreement or if they supermajority is not in agreement, it may result in a hung jury.

The benefit of having a jury trial is that, as opposed to a trial where the judge has the power to decide the verdict, juries are not swayed by political factors, such as re-election or reviews. However, they do have their drawbacks. A jury may be persuaded by personal beliefs instead of facts surrounding the case. They may, therefore, make a decision based on belief instead of the facts presented for the trial. Additionally, this kind of trial may be time-consuming, involving many days or weeks of in-court meetings, and the possibility of a hung jury, mistrial, and potential retrial.

During a bench trial, only a judge, defendant, prosecutor, and any attorneys the defendant desires will be present. The judge is the one who renders a verdict or a finding. The judge will go over the evidence presented and make a finding based on the facts of the case. In comparison to jury trials, bench trials normally can be resolved more quickly and end up taking far less time. They are also beneficial in cases that are complex and might be too complicated for a jury panel to comprehend. Conversely, only one person, the judge, makes the decision on the defendant, and judges may be persuaded by political factors.

Tennessee Criminal Defense Attorneys

The legal team at Griffin & Davis, PLLC understand that getting arrested is a helpless and frightening experience.  We are dedicated to providing individualized care to all of our clients. Our dedicated criminal defense attorneys strive to ensure that each and every client understand the confusing Tennessee criminal justice system.  We will also discuss the strategies that we can utilize to get the best possible result in their perspective case.

Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys

At Griffin & Davis, PLLC, we also handle federal criminal defense.  Our attorneys are admitted in the Middle and Eastern District of Tennessee.  We can also practice pro hace vice in other districts and states.  We especially have experience handling cases under the FIRST STEP Act.  This recent federal legislation stands for Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act.  The Act retroactively applies the Fair Sentencing Act to qualified federal inmates.  Call us today and let us help you or loved one get the relief they deserve!

Contact the trusted and compassionate attorneys at Griffin & Davis, PLLC today to discuss your accident and find out if we would be the best fit for you. Our criminal defense attorneys use the law to protect the residents of Middle and Eastern Tennessee.  We ensure that they receive the justice and freedom to which they are entitled. We offer our services in Sparta, Kingston, Crossville, and Cookeville with law offices in each. Our attorneys also provide services in the surrounding areas.

We treat all of our clients with respect and compassion. Our attorneys pay particular attention to every detail and leave no stone unturned as we work to build a rock solid case on behalf of all of our clients. Call the lawyers at Griffin & Davis, PLLC to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today, at 931- 837-2050 or 865-354-3333.