You are entitled to alimony if you are in need of support and your spouse has the ability to pay that support. A Court can order alimony for several reasons. Alimony may be required to help a spouse earn more or get a job or could also be awarded to help a spouse return to school so that they have a higher earning capacity. In Tennessee, a Court may order temporary, short-term, or long-term alimony. Temporary alimony is granted during the divorce proceeding and before the final decree. Short-term alimony may be granted after the divorce to allow the receiving party time to gain necessary skills in order to have a higher earning capacity. Long-term, or permanent alimony may be granted to a spouse who has significant needs and is usually reserved for long-term marriages.
Kane & Crowell
Going to Court can seem scary to those who have never been. Hopefully these tips will help alleviate some of your fears.
What to Wear?
This is one of the biggest questions that our clients ask if they have never been to Court. When you are thinking about what to wear to Court, you want to think of it as if you were going to a job interview. You want the Judge to know that you respect the Courtroom and that you think this process is important.
For men, it is not necessary to wear a suit but, of course, you can wear one if you want to. Men should usually wear a button-down shirt with dress slacks and nice shoes. For women, it is appropriate to wear a nice shirt with slacks, a suit, or a nice dress.
What to Bring?
You are not allowed to bring your cell phone, iPad, or laptop with you in the courtroom, so please leave them in your car when you come. You can bring your notes or a legal pad to write on if you want to take notes during the hearing.
Inside the Courtroom
You and your attorney will usually go into the courtroom together. Our office is located right across the street from the courthouse, and our Attorneys will usually walk to Court with you. If it is a day that other cases are being heard, you want to be sure to be respectful during those hearings. When it is time for your case to be heard, the Judge will call the parties and their attorneys up. The Judge will be in the middle of the courtroom sitting on the bench. You will sit on one side of the courtroom with your attorney, and the opposing party will be on the other side with their attorney. Please always be sure you are respectful to the Judge, as well as the other attorney if they are asking you questions. You should also be aware of your body language while in the courtroom. The Judge will be watching you at all times, so try not to make it known if you are frustrated (easier said than done of course).
Even if you have paid close attention during the hearing, you may still be wondering “what just happened” after Court. Your Attorney will explain to you what all happened, what the Judge decided, and what the next steps are after your hearing. You may even have questions in the days to follow the hearing, so be sure to follow up with your Attorney until you fully understand what happened in Court.
The Attorneys at Kane & Crowell Family Law Center have more than two decades of experience and are in Court daily. The most important advice we can give you is to listen to our advice and ask questions if you do not understand. Our Attorneys and staff can make an anxious situation much, much easier.
If you are filing for divorce, have a custody situation, a probate matter, or need a will or trust, contact us at www.kane-law.com or by phone at (615) 784-4800. We handle cases in Wilson County, Sumner County, Trousdale County, Macon County, Smith County, and Rutherford County and are happy to our experience at work for you.
Along with a new year, comes new changes in the law. Many new laws take effect in 2019, including the following:
- Law Enforcement will now be required to provide a formal notice within five (5) days of property seizures of a forfeiture-warrant hearing to the property owner, even if the property owner was not present at the time the property was taken. Any property that is wrongfully seized must be returned within five (5) days.
- In 2018, retail stores were able to begin selling alcoholic beverages on Sunday, but this did not include grocery stores. As of January 6, 2019, grocery stores will be able to sell wine on Sundays from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.
- There are new laws that will take effect concerning opioids and pharmacies. Initial opioid prescriptions will now be limited to a three-day supply for new patients. Although, there will be exceptions for surgeries, cancer, hospice, sick cell and treatment in licensed facilities. A new state law will also establish an opioid hotline and requires any
business that handles, distributes, or carries opioids to hang a sign up with the hotline’s number so that any potential opioid abuse can be reported anonymously.
- In cases where an ultrasound is performed as part of the examination that takes places before an abortion, the person who performs the ultrasound must now offer the woman getting the abortion the opportunity to learn the results of that ultrasound. If the ultrasound is performed, the report of the abortion must indicate whether or not a heartbeat was detected during the ultrasound. This data will then be reported to the Department of Health each year.
- Public schools and public charters schools that are being used for polling places for the November election must be closed for instruction on election day; however, for elections outside of the November election, it will be up to law enforcement agencies to decide whether or not the schools should be close.
To learn more about how these new laws and others may affect you, contact us at www.kane-law.com or by phone at (615) 784-4800.
It has been a long-standing practice in Tennessee that a person’s driver’s license can be revoked when they do not pay court costs or fines. While some may advocate for this policy as a way to make sure a person is responsible, it is completely counter-productive, as U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger just stated in a recent ruling.
A simple misdemeanor can carry court costs and fines of $500. Someone with multiple misdemeanor convictions or a felony convictions can have fines of thousands of dollars. Many people find it difficult to pay these fines as they have had to pay for legal representation, missed work for court dates and some have served time in jail. The balance of the costs and fines continues to increase when someone isn’t able to pay. The state’s practice has been to revoke a person’s driver’s license in order to coerce them into paying court costs and fines. This practice is ineffective because, if people cannot drive, they will not be able to work and will never be able to pay their balance in full. This scenario commonly leads to a person’s license being revoked for years. As a result, many people are forced to drive without a license just to get back and forth to work, which can lead to further criminal charges such as driving on a revoked license. A new charge would also incur additional court costs and fines. This creates a cycle that many people find difficult to navigate. Judge Trauger acknowledged this in the recent ruling.
Judge Trauger ordered that the over 100,000 people who have been affected by this procedure in Tennessee can begin the process of getting their licenses back. If your license was revoked or suspended due to nonpayment of court costs or fines, contact us at (615) 784-4801 to discuss how you can have your license reinstated.
On Monday, May 14, 2018, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association. In this opinion, the Court ruled 7-2 in favor of striking down a Federal law which prohibited betting on sports, other than in narrowly defined exceptions. The ruling is a victory for States’ rights, and may have greater implications for the States in the Union, in the future.
In 1992, Congress passed the “Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act” (PASPA). Effectively, PASPA prohibited the states from promoting, allowing or authorizing gambling on sports activities, except for “sports lotteries” in Oregon, Delaware and Montana, and certain gambling activities in Nevada. PASPA also contained an exception that gave states which previously had allowed casino gaming in the past ten years a one-year grace period to pass laws legalizing sports betting. PASPA did not apply to gambling or betting on certain activities, such as jai alai and horse and dog racing.
In 2011, voters in the State of New Jersey approved a referendum to allow sports betting within the state. In 2012, the New Jersey legislature passed a law allowing sports wagering at casinos and racetracks. Various professional sports leagues, including the National Hockey League, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Football League filed suit against the state, claiming that the 2012 law violated PASPA. The State of New Jersey was unsuccessful in trying to enforce the 2012 law allowing sports betting until the case was accepted by the United States Supreme Court in 2016.
The Supreme Court’s opinion, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, held in substance, that the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which holds that powers not expressly delegated to the Federal government are reserved for the states, prohibits the States from being required to enforce a Federal statutory scheme. The distinction is that while the Federal government is free to pass and enforce laws related to subjects of Federal importance, it cannot and may not require the States to pass and enforce laws substantially of Federal origin.
Post-Murphy, the States are now free to authorize sports gambling within their borders, as the majority of PASPA has been struck down as unconstitutional in light of the Tenth Amendment. This does not mean that sports gambling will be legal in all states, including Tennessee; it simply means that the States are no longer prevented from crafting laws approving sports gambling. The next step following this case would be for the respective State legislatures to pass laws allowing sports gambling.
Looking ahead, Murphy is an important opinion in the field of States’ rights and the Tenth Amendment. The Murphy opinion gives some support to the notion that the States may be allowed to pass laws of purely state concern, without interference from the Federal government.
To learn more about this opinion, as well as other Supreme Court opinions, visit scotusblog.com
If you have questions about legal representation, contact Angel Kane at (615) 444-8081.
On April 3, 2018, the TN legislature officially passed House Bill 2033, which allows victims of domestic abuse to request a court grant access to the victim’s cell phone plan, even if they are not the account holder.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Jim Coley, allows a victim of domestic violence to ask that the issuing court direct that the victim’s phone company transfer billing responsibility and account rights to the victim when that victim is not the account holder. The victim may ask for such an order when initially seeking an Order of Protection or when making a separate request of the court.
If granted, the Court will order the victim’s phone service provider to transfer account responsibility to the victim of the victim’s phone number and the phone numbers of any minor children in the victim’s care. Once transferred, the victim gains all rights of the account holder, but is responsible for the payment of the account.
Presumably the legislature’s intent in enacting this law was to enable victims of domestic violence to gain control over their cell phone accounts, when the alleged abuser is the primary account holder. The law should also help domestic violence victims by making it easier for such victim to cancel an existing phone number and get a new phone number to prevent unwanted contact from the abuser.
The bill passed unanimously in the House of Representatives this week. The bill had previously passed unanimously in the Senate in February.
According to 2016 Tennessee Bureau of Investigation statistics, 78,100 domestic violence incidents were reported to Tennessee law enforcement agencies during the preceding year. If you are the victim of domestic violence, you have options. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 799-7233 or your local law enforcement agency.
If you seek legal representation regarding divorce or child custody in conjunction with a domestic violence matter, contact the attorneys of Kane & Crowell Family Law Center at (615) 784-4800.
As of present, the Tennessee Legislature is in session, and there are a number of interesting bills that have been proposed and await debate, voting and eventual enactment or abandonment. In today’s blog post, we take a look at some of these bills that could eventually become law.
House Bill 1698 is certainly a bill to watch over the next few weeks, as it could result in notable changes to Tennessee DUI laws. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bill Hulsey (R – Kingsport) and Rep. Frank Nicely (R-Strawberry Plains), would give criminal judges across the state the discretion to ban those convicted of DUI from purchasing alcohol. Upon first offense conviction, the judge would have the discretion to bar alcohol sales to the defendant for one year. Upon a second conviction, a judge would have the discretion to bar alcohol sales to the defendant for two years. The bill originally gave a lifetime ban of alcohol sales upon an individuals third conviction for driving under the influence, as well as made the sale of alcohol to those convicted and barred from purchasing alcohol a Class C misdemeanor. This bill was revised by Rep. Michael Curcio (R – Dickson) to remove the lifetime ban and the Class C misdemeanor punishment to sellers of alcohol. The bill is currently before the House Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee. If passed, it could become law as soon as July 2018.
House Bill 1862 is an important bill for criminal defendants who enter into pre-trial diversion. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Raumesh Akbari (D-Shelby), Rep. William Lamberth (R-Sumner), Rep. Karen Camper (D-Shelby), and Rep. Barbara Cooper (D-Shelby), would reduce the cost of expungement for a criminal offense upon successful completion of pre-trial diversion, from $350 to $180. This bill would make it easier for defendants to have their pre-trial diverted offenses expunged and removed from their record, and ideally, less likely to suffer adverse consequences as the result of having a criminal record.
House Bill 2068 would create a new class of criminal offenses related to the false and improper marketing of alcohol and drug treatment services. Unfortunately, Tennessee has struggled with the spectre of opioid abuse, and as a result a wide variety of treatment programs (both legitimate and illegitimate) are advertised in the state. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Harold Love (D-Davidson) and Rep. Michael Curcio (R-Dickson) would create criminal offenses for the false or misleading advertising of alcohol and drug treatment facilities or giving or receiving financial incentives or benefits for being referred or referring individuals into such an alcohol and drug treatment facility. Such laws are undoubtedly designed to prevent opportunistic companies using questionable marketing tactics from taking advantage of individuals suffering from alcohol or drug dependency. The laws range in severity from Class A misdemeanors to Class E felonies.
These bills are only but a few of the many bills presently making their way through the House of Representatives and Senate. For more information about these bills, or other bills of the 110th Legislative Session, visit http://www.capitol.tn.gov/ or https://legiscan.com/TN/trends.
In December 2017, the Tennessee Supreme Court issued the opinion on Spires v. Simpson, concerning a wrongful death lawsuit out of Monroe County, Tennessee.
In Spires, Mr. and Mrs. Spires were parents of a minor child, born in the spring of 2009. One month after the child’s birth, Mr. Spires abandoned the family, though the parties did not divorce. Mr. Spires did not provide any child support or financial support to Mrs. Spires. In October 2010, Mrs. Spires was tragically killed in a car accident. Following her death, custody of the Spires’ child was given to Mrs. Spires’ mother.
One month after Mrs. Spires’ death, Mr. Spires brought a wrongful death action against the driver of the vehicle in the accident that killed Mrs. Spires. Both Mrs. Spires’ mother and brother sought intervention in the wrongful death accident, claiming that they, as custodians of the Spires’ child, were entitled to any wrongful death settlement, not Mr. Spires due to Mr. Spires having failed to pay any child support to Mrs. Spires for benefit of his child.
The trial court agreed with Mrs. Spires’ mother and brother, and held that Mr. Spires could not recover any amounts from the wrongful death lawsuit due to him owing back child support to Mrs. Spires and for benefit of four other unrelated children. The Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed in part, holding that while Mr. Spires was entitled to prosecute the wrongful death lawsuit; however, any recovery he received would be applied to his back child support arrearages on the children other than his child with Mrs. Spires.
The Tennessee Supreme Court disagreed with both the trial court and the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court held that the child support arrearage provisions at Tenn. Code Ann. § 20-5-107 and Tenn. Code Ann. § 31-2-105 did not apply in the Spires’ case, as Mr. Spires was prosecuting the wrongful death action as the surviving spouse of Mrs. Spires. The Child Support Arrearage forfeiture provisions under Tennessee law only preclude a parent who is behind on child support from prosecuting a wrongful death action on behalf of a deceased child, when that parent owes child support for benefit of the deceased child. The Supreme Court found that the purpose of the two forfeiture provisions was to prevent a parent behind on child support from financially benefitting from the wrongful death of a child the parent failed to support.
The Spires opinion clarifies the interpretation of who can bring a wrongful death action, and the Child Support Arrearage forfeiture provisions. For more information, or to read the full opinion, visit http://tncourts.gov/courts/supreme-court/opinions/2017/12/27/kenneth-m-spires-et-al-v-haley-reece-simpson-et-al .
Every year in America, ten million (10,000,000) men and women are the victim of domestic violence.1 In 2014, 74,023 domestic violence crimes were reported to law enforcement agencies in Tennessee.2 Thousands of other incidents of domestic violence go unreported.
Law enforcement and the courts of the State of Tennessee approach domestic violence issues very seriously. Accordingly, there are a number of statutes about domestic violence that Tennesseans should be aware of.
Often, when domestic violence is alleged and an arrest is made, the individual arrested will be held in jail for a minimum of twelve (12) hours. Equally often, when such an individual makes bail and is granted release, a court will issue bond conditions which require the arrested individual to stay away from the victim. For parties who reside together, this can mean no longer residing in the same house or apartment.
In addition, those who plead guilty or are convicted of domestic assault are prohibited from possessing firearms or acquiring firearms in the future in addition to the other statutory penalties, including misdemeanor imprisonment and fines. Multiple convictions for domestic assault may result in felony penalties, including imprisonment.
Certain individuals, including victims of stalking, domestic abuse, or sexual assault may seek an order of protection from a court to prevent their attacker from coming about their person or contacting them. Individuals against whom an order of protection is issued may not possess firearms and are required to transfer any firearms in their possession to a third-party within forty-eight (48) hours of the issuance of the order.
Individuals who violate an order of protection are subject to arrest and a mandatory twelve (12) hour hold in jail. Violation of an order protection is a Class A misdemeanor, and any sentence imposed must be served consecutively to any sentence for a related domestic violence crime based upon the same factual allegations.
Attorneys at Kane & Crowell Family Law Center are experienced in both domestic and criminal matters related to domestic violence. If you are interested in information about divorce or child custody, or if you have been arrested and charged with domestic violence, call us at (615) 784-4800.
If you, a friend, or a loved one, have experienced domestic violence, you have options. Contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline at (1-800)−799−7233, or HomeSafe (for Wilson County residents) at (615) 444-8955. You can also contact the Wilson County District Attorney’s Office at (615) 443-2863 or the Wilson County Sheriffs Department at (615) 444-1412 to learn more about orders of protection.
The term “juvenile” is sometimes associated with thoughts of immaturity, inexperience and curiosity. Juveniles often make mistakes from which they can learn, but may have lasting consequences. Thankfully, in Tennessee, there are ways to keep a juvenile’s criminal record confidential to prevent harm to their future.
In Tennessee, an arrest as a juvenile should not show up on a background check. However, there is no guarantee that will not happen. Sometimes a simple clerical error can cause a juvenile arrest to show up on a background check. However, juvenile convictions, or guilty pleas, can show up on background checks. In order to prevent an arrest or conviction from showing up on a background check, a juvenile’s parents, guardian or attorney should ensure the juvenile’s criminal record is expunged, or “wiped clean” as soon as possible. Some offenses, such as sexual crimes or certain felonies, are not able to be expunged. For all others, records can be expunged as long as the juvenile meets certain criteria, such as not getting into trouble and making good choices for one year from the date the court entered the judgment.
To have a criminal record expunged, a juvenile’s parents, guardian or attorney must petition the court on his/her behalf for an expungement. Most courts require an expungement fee to be paid before it can be finalized. Once the expungement order is signed, the juvenile’s parents, guardian or attorney should keep a copy of the order as they cannot obtain another copy in the future, if needed.
Many people ask if a juvenile has to answer “yes” when asked if they have been convicted of a crime. The short answer is, an arrest is not a conviction and is confidential but a conviction may show up on a background check unless it is expunged. If the record has not been expunged, it’s usually best to answer “yes” and then explain the situation later. However, before you answer “yes”, it’s best to consult with a criminal attorney experienced in juvenile matters. At Kane & Crowell, our attorneys have experience dealing with matters of juvenile justice. Contact us at (615) 784-4800 to learn more.
In 2018, drivers across Tennessee have at least one new law to be wary of. Beginning January 1, it shall be a Class C misdemeanor to operate or talk on a hand-held cellphone while in a school zone marked by flashing lights. This offense is punishable by a $50 fine.
However, adult drivers (18 or older) may operate a motor vehicle in a school zone and use a “hands-free” cell phone device.
Unfortunately for drivers under 18, they cannot use either a conventional cell phone or “hands-free” device while in a school zone.
These new laws supplement the existing laws regarding cell phones and driving, so texting and driving remains illegal.
Don’t get caught this year with your head in your apps. Seems better to spend $50 in the App Store than on a traffic fine!
If you have a legal issue requiring representation in criminal matters, contact attorney Ashley Jackson at (615) 784-4800.
Signed into law on December 22, 2017 the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017” makes changes to the existing tax code. One of the important implications for our clients is the changes to alimony.
Under the previous law, alimony was deductible by the spouse paying alimony (the obligor). Alimony received was considered taxable income on the tax return of the spouse receiving the spousal support (the obligee). Accordingly, such alimony was taxed as the oblige spouse’s income.
The 2017 Tax act now changes this law going forward. For divorces after December 31, 2018, alimony paid cannot be deducted by the obligor spouse. At the same time, the obligee spouse does not have to pay taxes on alimony received.
This is a marked change in the existing tax laws regarding alimony, which has been the norm for seventy-five years. It is important to note that the new law only affects divorces entered after December 31, 2018.
If you have any questions about divorce or alimony, contact Angel Kane at (615) 444-8081.
Not only does January 1, 2018 bring in the new year, but also new laws as passed by the Tennessee Legislature.
Barbers may now perform their services in a residence. Prior to 2018, barbers could only render their services in a residence for a person who was ill. However, to work in or out of a residence, barbers must possess a residential barber certificate.
A few changes take effect regarding school bus drivers. Beginning in 2018, school bus drivers must be at least twenty-five years old, and all new school bus drivers must complete a training program prior to transporting any children. The changes also create a transportation supervisor program, for the monitoring and supervision of local and charter school transportation.
Homeowners may cancel alarm contracts for periods longer than two (2) years, upon giving thirty (30) days’ notice to an alarm company, if the homeowner has to sell their home for medical reasons. However, the cancellation must come after the initial two (2) year period, and the cancellation must include a letter from the homeowner’s treating physician explaining that the house must be sold and alarm system canceled due to medical reasons.
Individuals seeking handgun carry permits may be exempted from the firing range qualification component if they have proof they passed small arms qualification or combat pistol training in any branch of the United States armed forces.
For motor vehicles, headlights must be either white or amber. It seems most stanard passenger vehicles will comply with this law. However, driver’s may not modify their vehicle headlights to colors other than white or amber.
Most importantly, 2018 brings new penalties for cell phone usage in school zones. Drivers using or talking on a handheld cell phone in a marked school zone when flashers are operating can be prosecuted for a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a $50 fine.
For more information about the new laws taking effect January 1, 2018, visit http://www.local8now.com/content/news/16-new-Tennessee-laws-come-with-the-new-year-466717603.html
If you have a legal issue, contact the attorneys at Kane & Crowell Family Law Center at (615) 784-4800.
Happy New Year from Kane and Crowell! New Year’s Eve is, arguably, the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s busiest weekend when it comes to patrolling and ensuring safe driving. Every year, THP conducts multiple roadblocks around the New Year holiday. Some of these roadblocks are announced ahead of time and some are not. THP has announced the following roadblocks in our area:
· 12/29/2017 Macon County Driver’s License Checkpoint at Sneed Blvd @ Main Street
· 12/31/2017 Wilson County Sobriety Checkpoint at US 231 / LOJAC 2147 Murfreesboro Road
· 12/31/2017 Dekalb County Sobriety Checkpoint at SR 56 @ Putnam County Road
You can see all other announced checkpoints here: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/safety/documents/dec2017_checkpoints.pdf
If you plan to celebrate New Year’s Eve in downtown Nashville, the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department is offering free sober rides from 10 p.m. New Year’s Eve until 2 a.m. New Year’s Day from pickup locations at Broadway and 2nd Avenue South and 4th Avenue North and Harrison Street near Bicentennial Mall. Find more information on the sober ride program here: http://www.wsmv.com/story/37152963/sheriffs-office-employees-offering-free-sober-rides-on-new-years-eve
If you drink this New Year’s, don’t drive. If you find yourself in a situation that requires legal assistance, call us at (615) 784-4800. We wish you a safe and happy 2018!
A 2017 study of Americans published on Bloomberg.com cited that 25% of Americans ages 58-60 surveyed considered themselves in “poor” or “fair” health1. The study further cited that 11% of this same age group suffered from some form of dementia or cognitive decline1. This age group falls directly within the demographic of “baby boomers”, those Americans born between 1946 and 1964. Current estimates establish that 10,000 baby boomers are retiring per day in the United States2.
The realism of these statistics is that most of us have parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and even friends of this age, who may be experiencing health issues related with aging. Proper estate planning, including having an adequate Will and Powers of Attorney, is the best way to protect one’s interests as they grow older. However, what happens if a person becomes mentally or physically disabled, and is no longer able to manage their affairs, without proper estate planning in place?
Tennessee law provides for such individuals to be granted a conservatorship. In a conservatorship proceeding, a third-party petitioner files a petition with a court highlighting the circumstances surrounding the disabled person’s disability and their relationship with the disabled person. Generally, the petitioner/prospective conservator is a relative of the disabled person; however, the law allows any individual who has not been sentenced to prison to serve as a conservator. As a part of the conservatorship filing, the disabled party must be examined by a doctor and determined to be disabled and unable to properly manage their affairs. The petitioner must also give notice to the disabled person, and their closest relatives of the conservatorship request in the event they wish to contest it.
A court will also usually appoint a neutral attorney, called a guardian ad litem to act as an investigator for the court to determine whether the disabled person is truly disabled and needs a conservator. The guardian ad litem will often speak with the disabled person, as well as the petitioner and render a report as to whether a conservatorship is merited. The Court ultimately makes the determination if a conservatorship is warranted.
A conservator, once appointed, may manage the property of a disabled person. However, the conservator is deemed a fiduciary of the disabled person and must file an initial inventory of the disabled person’s property. Additionally, the conservator must file periodic accountings of the disabled person’s property. The conservator also may be liable for wrongful actions or failing to file timely reports while acting as conservator.
If you are concerned about a family member or friend’s ability to manage their affairs, call Amanda Crowell at (615) 449-4848 to discuss conservatorships.
For individuals charged with certain crimes, diversion of these charges may be an option. Diversion is a creation of the Tennessee Legislature and is governed by statute. Tennessee allows principally two types of diversion: pre-trial diversion and judicial diversion.
In pre-trial diversion, an individual charged with certain crimes may, with the consent of the District Attorney General, have their case suspended with conditions. An agreement is drafted between the Defendant and the District Attorney, and generally contains conditions requiring that the Defendant not commit any criminal offense, the Defendant avoid certain activities related to the charge, the Defendant make restitution to any victims, or that the Defendant pay court costs, among other conditions. Additionally, the agreement may require the Defendant to submit to counseling, payment of supervision expenses, or if the charge involved drugs or alcohol, require the Defendant to keep and wear an alcohol monitoring device. Pre-trial diversion is not a dismissal; rather, prosecution of the case is suspended for up to two (2) years. The trial court may dismiss the charge ninety (90) days after the expiration of the suspension period, provided the Defendant has complied with all conditions of the diversion agreement. If the Defendant violates the diversion agreement, the prosecution of the crime will be resumed.
In judicial diversion, the Defendant conditionally pleads guilty or no contest, however entry of the judgment is deferred and the Defendant is placed upon probation. Like with pre-trial diversion, not all crimes are eligible for judicial diversion. The probation ordered by the Court cannot exceed the maximum sentence for the crime the Defendant is charged with. In addition, the Court may order any other reasonable conditions as it sees fit as a part of the probation, including ordering alcohol monitoring or temporary confinement in jail for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days. The Defendant must also pay supervision fees for the probation, and the granting of the diversion is expressly conditioned upon payment of such fees. Judicial diversion is not a dismissal; however, upon successful completion of the probation period, provided the Defendant has complied with all terms and conditions of probation, the Court shall discharge the Defendant from probation and dismiss the underlying charges. An individual who successfully completes judicial diversion may also have the charge expunged upon application to the Court and payment of any fees or outstanding court costs. If the Defendant violates probation, the prior guilty or no contest plea will be entered and the Defendant will be sentenced accordingly.
Diversion is a helpful option for individuals charged with certain crimes, and may allow them to avoid both jail time and having a conviction on one’s record. However, there are restrictions as to the types of crimes eligible for diversion. Further, an individual seeking diversion cannot have had a prior diversion.
Our attorneys have successfully entered diversions for our clients in various criminal cases. Call attorney Ashley Jackson at (615) 784-4800 for more information if you are charged with a crime for more information about criminal representation.
My legal assistant and I were recently discussing what questions clients and prospective clients ask her about meeting with myself and other attorneys here. As a result of our conversation, we came up with following tips for clients when meeting with their attorneys.
Write down questions and concerns beforehand
What do you actually want to accomplish through your attorney? You should have a basic idea of what outcome you are hoping for. This helps me, as an attorney, to know what objectives I’m working towards and tailor my representation to achieve your goals. As an attorney, I’m here to help you BUT you, as the client, are my customer and I seek to achieve your objectives on your behalf.
Try to relax
Easier said than done, right? I understand whatever situation you may be in can be very stressful and upsetting. However, being able to speak clearly and calmly greatly helps us to understand the facts of your case. Family law and criminal defense are possibly the two most emotional areas of the law, and I completely understand the stress and emotions one may experience. In my 20+ years practicing law, I’ve seen clients cry in my office and get upset, and it’s perfectly fine.
Make sure you tell me EVERTHING relevant to your case even if it makes you look bad
As an attorney, I have to know EVERYTHING in order to represent a client the best I can. A crucial part of the attorney-client relationship is candor between the parties. If you leave information out when discussing your case, especially if it’s on purpose, then this information could come out in the courtroom in front of the judge or jury. You do not want this to happen. This can make both the attorney and the Client look bad and lose credibility. When you tell me information, even bad information, there are various ways I can attempt to exclude or minimize this information.
Bring a notebook
The legal process has many steps. It’s easy to get confused when talking about your case and the specific steps that must be taken. Taking notes helps you keep track of those steps, as well as writing down any additional information that I may need from you, for you to provide later.
Bring any prior paperwork you may have
You should bring in all pertinent paperwork about your case if it’s ongoing. The legal system operates on deadlines and dates. I, as an attorney, need to see what has been filed with the court so I know what may have already occurred and what needs to be done going forward.
I know the legal process can be scary and overwhelming. However, hiring an attorney to help guide you through the process can make it that much easier. It’s always comforting to have someone on your side and fighting for YOU. By following these suggestions above, you can have a more productive meeting with your attorney.
Contact Angel at (615) 784-4800 to set up a consultation regarding your case.
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say, can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Those of us who routinely watch police dramas know that individuals suspected of crimes have “Miranda rights.” Just hearing the phrase “Miranda rights” conjures up images of a police officer hauling away an individual in handcuffs or a defendant sweating in a dark interview room while being interrogated by a tired looking police detective. While many people know the basics of Miranda, you may not know the historical evolution and the extent of Miranda rights.
Concerned by the techniques and practices law enforcement used in questioning and interrogating individuals in police custody in the mid-20th Century, the United States Supreme Court laid down the landmark opinion in Miranda v. Arizona in 1966. Ultimately, the Court mandated the use of “procedural safeguards” to protect a defendant’s constitutional rights against compelled self-incrimination and right to counsel. The “procedural safeguards” required that a criminal accused be informed of his right against self-incrimination (or to remain silent) as well as his right to counsel (or be appointed one in the proper case). If a defendant was not advised of these rights, then any confession obtained as the result of questioning could not be used in the prosecution’s case. In legal jargon, these “procedural safeguards” became known as Miranda rights, after the name of one of the criminal defendants in the landmark case, Ernesto Miranda. Subsequent to the Miranda decision, police departments around the country began issuing cards specifically spelling out Miranda rights to their officers, to be read to individuals in police custody.
An individual’s Miranda rights encompass two basic constitutional rights: the right against compelled self-incrimination (often referred to as “pleading the Fifth”) and the right to counsel. Once in police custody, an individual has both the right to not speak to police, as well as the right to request the presence and assistance of an attorney during any subsequent questioning. It bears noting that Miranda rights only attach when an individual is both in police custody and is subject to interrogation or a similar adversarial questioning practice. Many police-citizen encounters may involve one of these prongs or invoke a similar situation, but Miranda is not required. For instance, police are generally not required to render Miranda warnings when asking simple questions, during basic traffic stops (for speeding, DUI, seatbelt violations) or immediately after arresting an individual if no interrogation or questioning is conducted.
As the Supreme Court recognized over fifty years ago in Miranda v. Arizona, knowledge of one’s constitutional rights during the criminal investigation and prosecution process is critically important. If you are arrested or charged with a crime, know that the attorneys at Kane & Crowell Family Law Center are experienced in the criminal justice system and stand ready to protect your rights. Call attorney Ashley Jackson at (615) 784-4801 for more information about legal representation in a criminal matter.
Many clients who come to us for advice during a divorce are going through it for the first time and have many questions. Although the process can be very complicated, knowing the basic information can help put a client at ease during a stressful time.
Divorce can be a difficult situation for every party involved. It is the legal undoing of two people's assets, liabilities, and everything in between that make up the fabric of their lives. Knowing what to expect and being prepared for the inevitable changes are important when you are going through a divorce.
The first decision to be made is whether the divorce will be contested or uncontested. If you can come to a full agreement, the divorce is uncontested and the process is more simple. If you cannot come to a full agreement, the divorce is contested and requires negotiation, mediation, and, in some cases, a trial.
In an uncontested divorce, the parties, or their attorneys, complete the necessary paperwork and file with the Court. If children are involved, parents must take a parenting class and file the certificate of completion with the Court.
In a contested divorce, one party will begin the process by filing a complaint for divorce. The other party will then file their answer to that complaint and, possibly, a counter-complaint. The parties or their attorneys will then enter the negotiation phase. If negotiation is unsuccessful, the parties must attend mediation with a third party. In most cases, an agreement is able to be reached in either of these two phases. In some cases, mediation is not successful and the parties must have a trial to allow a judge to decide the issues, which can be a lengthy process.
In Tennessee, the mandatory waiting period for a divorce from the time of filing is 60 days if the parties have no minor children and 90 days if the parties have minor children. This means that the divorce cannot be finalized until the time period runs.
If you or someone you know is contemplating divorce or have been served with a complaint for divorce, contact us to get answers to your questions and let us assist you in making the best decisions. Call Kane and Crowell at (615) 784-4800 for more information about the divorce process in Tennessee.