Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tennessee Criminal Defense Lawyer

Barnette Law Offices, LLC extensive criminal defense practice includes representation of adults and juveniles in all felonies and misdemeanors throughout Tennessee, including:

  • DUI / DWI
  • Drug-Related Charges
  • Sex Crimes
  • Theft Cases
  • Domestic Violence
  • Assault
  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Battery
  • Robbery
  • Probation Violations  
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Expungement / Sealing / Dismissal
  • Arson, Vehicular Homicide/Assault
  • Criminal Trespass


1) Do not speak with anyone from Law Enforcement. Not answering a police officer's questions is your Constitutional right.

2) Do not consent to any search or turn over anything to Law Enforcement.

3) Do not talk about your case with your family, friends, or anyone in jail. What you tell them can and will be used against you.

4) Do not represent yourself and avoid obtaining a public defender if you can afford a private attorney such as those at Barnette Law Offices, LLC.  The District Attorney on your case is a very experienced lawyer who knows the law far better than you both substantively and procedurally.

5) Do not go to court without first talking to an attorney who focuses on criminal defense.

6) Talk with your attorney and tell the attorney everything about your case. What you tell your attorney is confidential and cannot be used against you under the doctrine of attorney-client privilege.

7) Identify and find any possible witnesses that may have information which is favorable to you.

8) Do not sign anything without talking to your lawyer.

9) Do not plead guilty.


  • What is the punishment for a felony?
  • How does the "three strikes" law work?

Felonies are typically the most serious crimes in any system of criminal law. A standard definition of a felony is any crime punishable by more than one year in prison or by death. This means that any crime that has a sentence of only a fine or confinement in the local jail is not a felony. Often the offense itself is not labeled as a felony, but the punishment tells the public that the offense is a felony. On the other hand, state codes may label a crime a "gross" or "aggravated" misdemeanor but provide for a sentence of more than one year in the state penitentiary system, thereby ensuring that the so-called misdemeanor is treated as felony in many respects.

If a crime is a felony, additional criminal procedures apply. The right to a court-appointed attorney in cases where the defendant is too poor to afford to hire a lawyer is usually triggered if the charge is a felony, but not for less-serious crimes. Likewise, whether or not a criminal defendant must be present in court for various parts of the process may depend on whether he or she is charged with a felony.

In some jurisdictions, felonies can only be charged upon a grand jury indictment, while lesser crimes can be charged by a written information. Criminal defendants and witnesses can have their testimony disregarded in some jurisdictions by showing a prior conviction for a felony but not for a lesser crime. Finally, many jurisdictions base their "three strikes" laws on felonies but not misdemeanors. If the offender has been twice convicted of a felony, one more felony conviction will subject him to life in prison.

In addition to differences in procedural criminal law, the substantive law can be affected if a crime is designated a felony. Some statutes make an accidental death a murder if it occurs in the commission of a felony, but if it occurs in the commission of a lesser crime, it is only manslaughter. Burglary is defined at common law as breaking and entering a house for the purpose of committing a felony; if the purpose was not to commit a felony the crime cannot be charged as burglary.

The crime of conspiracy may carry a harsher penalty if the offense is conspiracy to commit a felony rather than conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor. Justifiable homicide is sometimes described as a killing to prevent the commission of a felony, although more commonly it is limited to prevention of certain of the most serious felonies.

A person convicted of a felony may have more restrictions on their rights than a person convicted of a lesser crime. In many jurisdictions, felons cannot serve on juries. Often times they lose their right to vote or to practice certain professions, such as lawyer or teacher. Felons may be prohibited from owning guns or serving in the military. Some states have a "three strikes, you're out" statute which provides that a person who already has been convicted of two felonies may be sentenced to life in prison if he or she is convicted of a third felony.

Some felonies are assault in the first degree or assault that causes serious bodily injury, all degrees of murder, rape or sexual abuse in the first degree, grand theft, kidnapping, embezzlement of large amounts of money, serious drug crimes, and racketeering.

Substantive Law of Felonies

Designating a crime as a felony may affect other charges, as well as the procedural law. For example, if an accidental death occurs during the commission of a felony, some states classify the crime as murder, while the crime is manslaughter if the death occurs during the commission of a lesser offense. Similarly, the common law defines the crime of burglary as entering another person's house without their permission, for the purpose of committing a felony in the house. If the purpose for entering was not the commission of a felony, the crime was not burglary. A conspiracy often will be punished more severely if the conspiracy was to commit a felony, instead of conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor.

Consequences of Felony Convictions

If a person is convicted of a felony, he or she may find that his or her rights may be restricted more than those of a person convicted of a misdemeanor. Convicted felons usually serve more time incarcerated, and the conditions of their incarceration generally are more severe. There are many other consequences, as well. In many states, people convicted of felonies may not serve on juries. They may lose their right to vote, or to engage in some professions, like teaching or law. Felons are often prohibited from serving in the military, or owning firearms. In addition, as noted above, many states have so-called "three strikes" laws that require that a person be sentenced to life upon his or her third felony conviction. Experienced defense counsel such as that found at Barnette Law Offices, LLC, will help you not only before and during a trial, but can make sure you may be able to return to a normal life as soon as you can.

The consequences of a felony conviction are severe, and can last for a long time. The punishment is severe, and there are other implications of the conviction that can stay in a person's life for many years to come. You need to protect your future. If you are facing felony criminal charges, contact an experienced, knowledgeable criminal defense attorney at Barnette Law Offices, LLC


  • Are misdemeanors serious crimes?
  • What is a misdemeanor?

Misdemeanors are less serious crimes. They are generally punishable by a fine or incarceration in the county jail for less than one year. The District Attorney does not usually convene a grand jury to investigate and charge misdemeanor offenses, although such charges can be generated along with felonies. Most misdemeanors are charged by written indictment and in many jurisdictions, poor defendants are not entitled to a court-appointed lawyer. Often, misdemeanors are handled by special courts with abbreviated procedures such as the General Sessions Courts of Tennessee. For instance, the defendant may have to request and pay a fee in order to get a jury trial. Misdemeanor traffic offenses may have pre-set penalties in the form of scheduled fines.

The consequences for misdemeanor convictions are generally less severe than for felony convictions. A person with a misdemeanor crime on his record may still be able to serve on a jury, practice the professions, and vote.

If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor in Tennessee, contact us at Barnette Law Offices, LLC


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