Charged with a Crime in Tennessee?
Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain Charges and Penalties
A criminal conviction can drastically affect the rest of your life. You may face the possibility of jail time, fines and other penalties, and your reputation may be damaged. Additionally, a conviction may prevent you from finding work and/or housing in the future. Since so much hangs in the balance, you should always work a criminal defense lawyer with a history of success. Even innocence is not always an ironclad defense – law enforcement and prosecutors may not care about your side of the story, but will simply focus on getting a conviction. An attorney can work to enforce your rights and expose any misconduct or negligence that may have led to your arrest. In many cases, a good lawyer can get your charges or penalties reduced, minimizing the negative impact on your life.
If you have been arrested or someone you know was taken into police custody, then you should find a lawyer as quickly as possible. No matter what kinds of charges you face, from a misdemeanor to a felony, finding an attorney you trust is essential. To speak with a local Tennessee criminal lawyer today, consult our local listings.
What Are the Basic Types of Criminal Charges?
The type of criminal charge you face may vary depending on the nature of the alleged crime. Although each state has its own specific classifications, the general types of charges are:
- Infraction. An infraction is the least serious type of charge you can face. In fact, some states handle infractions as civil cases, rather than criminal cases. Traffic violations and other minor offenses usually fall into this category. Jail is generally not a possibility for infractions, so you are not entitled to a jury trial and the state will usually not appoint you a lawyer. However, you can still hire one of your own.
- Petty offense. Some states categorize low-level criminal conduct as petty offenses. This may include illegal acts like gambling, disturbing the peace, public indecency, pollution violations and theft of items of low value.
- Misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a more serious charge and county courts typically handle these cases. Common misdemeanor charges include assault, criminal trespass, theft and certain drug crimes, including possession and sale.
- Felony. This is the most serious type of criminal charge and state and/or federal courts usually handle these cases. Common felonies include murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, vehicular homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and certain drug crimes.
In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can negotiate on your behalf with the prosecution to reduce the severity of the charges you face. If the court reduces your charge from a low-level felony to a misdemeanor, for example, then the repercussions you face may be much less serious.
What Is the Penalty for a Misdemeanor in Tennessee?
Each state has its own system for classifying misdemeanor and felony charges, and penalties may vary as well. Under Tennessee’s laws, misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year in jail and designated as class A, B, or C. The general penalties you may face for different types of criminal charges in Tennessee are:
- Class A Misdemeanor. In Tennessee, class A misdemeanors, the most serious misdemeanors, are punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Class A misdemeanors in Tennessee include assault, domestic assault, simple possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, theft, and DUI.
- Class B Misdemeanor. A class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both. Common examples of a Class B misdemeanor in Tennessee include reckless driving and prostitution.
- Class C Misdemeanor. Under Tennessee’s laws, class C misdemeanors are the least serious misdemeanors, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $50, or both. Class C misdemeanors usually consist of motor vehicle or regulatory offenses, such as speeding, wildlife violations, and other petty offenses.
What Is the Penalty for a Felony in Tennessee?
Like misdemeanors, each state has its own system for what qualifies as a felony and what penalties may result from a conviction. Tennessee lawmakers designate felonies as class A, B, C, D, or E. Possible felony charges and penalties include:
- Class A Felony. After crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment, class A felonies are the most serious felonies in Tennessee. They are punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison and/pr a fine of up to $50,000. Aggravated rape (rape that causes injury to the victim, or against a child under the age of 13, or where the defendant is armed with a weapon or aided by others) is a class A felony.
- Class B Felony. Causing or allowing a child to engage in sexual acts for the purpose of making child pornography is an example of a class B felony. In Tennessee, a class B felony is punishable by eight to 30 years’ imprisonment, as well as a fine of up to $25,000.
- Class C Felony. Aggravated assault (intentionally causing serious injury to another) is a class C felony in Tennessee. People convicted of class C felonies can be sentenced to prison terms of three to 15 years, as well as fines of up to $10,000.
- Class D Felony. Possession of between ten and 70 pounds of marijuana is a class D felony in Tennessee. A class D felony is punishable by two to 12 years’ imprisonment, and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Class E Felony. Theft of property worth more than $500 but less than $1,000 is a class E felony. Class E felonies are punishable by one to six years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $3,000.
Need a Tennessee Criminal Defense Lawyer? We Can Help
If you are facing any level of criminal charge, then a qualified lawyer may be essential to protecting your future. Additionally, if someone you know is currently in police custody, then you may wish to reach out to a lawyer on his or her behalf. To find a Tennessee criminal defense lawyer in your area, then consult our attorney listings. If you have general question about criminal law or certain charges, then do not hesitate to ask the lawyers.