It is imperative when negotiating criminal cases to have the ability to properly identify legal issues. These issues present contingencies in a case which may compel the prosecution to provide a more favorable case disposition. Here is a short list of issues we examine when evaluating a criminal case.
- The stop by law enforcement was unconstitutional. Generally this category includes the officers making a stop based on a reason which is either not true, or the reason given, even if true is not legally sufficient to make a stop.
- The search of the vehicle or person was unconstitutional because it was without consent and the officer lacked probable cause to believe a crime had been or was being committed. The issue of consent can be attacked, even if it was given verbally. For most people, being stopped by law enforcement can be an intimidating and stressful experience. Simply because a person says ‘yes’, does not mean it was a valid consent if obtained under duress or coercion.
- The drugs or drug paraphernalia found were not in your possession. Possession does not necessarily mean having it on your person but rather in your control. If marijuana is discovered in your luggage in the trunk, it is still considered in your control. However, a small amount of marijuana discovered in a bag and no one claims it, does not justify the officer charging everyone in the vehicle with possession.
- The drugs found were not possessed with the intent to manufacture, deliver or sell and the appropriate charge should be a misdemeanor, not a felony. Although law enforcement will make an arrest and charge someone with either a felony or misdemeanor based on an amount of drugs discovered, evidence still has to be established beyond a reasonable doubt that the possession was with the intent to manufacture, deliver or sell. We have seen law enforcement use this analysis appropriately and have had clients with 2 pounds of marijuana charged with simple possession. Unfortunately, that is uncommon.
- The citation received contains multiple charges, all on a single citation. Some citations are single offense citations only, meaning a sepearate citation must be written for each charged offense. For example, it is not uncommon to see a law enforcement officer charge an individual with simple possession and possession of drug paraphernalia both, on the same citation. In some Tennessee counties, district attorneys will routinely dismiss one of those charges (generally not both) because of the error.
Those are all issues which need to be examined before you go to court. There may also be other options available, such as what is known as Diversion. There are two different types of diversion in Tennessee, pre-trial and judicial (also known as post-plea diversion in some Tennessee counties). (More Information on Diversion, Requirements and Eligibility) Both forms of diversion are great ways of resolving criminal charges favorably by providing the opportunity to have your charge dismissed and upon dismissal, to be expunged.
You may decide after speaking with a criminal lawyer that you prefer to fight the charge, even if diversion is an option. Our criminal lawyers are here to ensure our clients understand their options and make informed decisions. You should always consult with a criminal defense lawyer when facing any criminal charge in Tennessee. If you are traveling from out of state and want to ensure a single court appearance in Tennessee, it is critical that you contact an attorney and at least discuss your situation prior to attending court in Tennessee. Not doing so will inevitably result in additional cost and court appearances. Our Tennessee criminal defense lawyers are available to discuss your case.