If you were recently arrested and charged with a criminal offense you are undoubtedly concerned about the outcome of your case and the penalties you could face if convicted. Your concern is likely heightened if you have been charged with an offense that is classified as a “violent crime” given the serious nature of the offense and the heightened penalties that apply if convicted. At this point, the most important step you can take to help increase the odds of avoiding a conviction is to retain the services of an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney.
At the Tennessee law firm of Bennet & Michael we know what is at stake for you and those who are concerned for you. We also understand that navigating the criminal justice system can be difficult under the best of circumstances. Facing criminal charges for a violent crime does not qualify as the best of circumstances. We have also found that for many people in your situation, simply gaining some additional knowledge about the charges against them, the potential penalties if convicted, and the criminal prosecution process in general can make all the difference during one of the most stressful times in their lives. With that in mind, we have prepared some answers to the most frequently asked questions relating to violent crimes. If you have additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the criminal defense attorneys at Bennett & Michael.
1. What is mean by a “violent crime?”
For most people, the term “violent crime” means just would you likely think it does – a criminal offense that results in someone being injured by the perpetrator or in which violent is threatened during the commission of the crime. The FBI actually defines the term though. In the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes are defined in the UCR Program as those offenses which involve force or threat of force.
2. What are the possible penalties for murder in Tennessee?
Like most states, the State of Tennessee divides homicide into several different offenses, based on the intentions of the perpetrator and other factors. Because Tennessee is a death penalty state, a conviction for first degree murder in Tennessee is punishable with death. Second degree murder is punishable with 15 to 60 years in prison if convicted in Tennessee.
3. What are the potential punishments for rape in Tennessee?
Rape is another offense that is divided into numerous different offenses, including rape, statutory rape, and sexual battery. The potential penalties for rape offenses in Tennessee can vary considerably depending on the actual charges; however, you could face up to 60 years in prison if convicted of a rape as a Class A felony in Tennessee.
4. Will I be granted bond if accused of a violent crime?
In the United States, an accused has certain rights granted by the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, the 8th Amendment has been interpreted to grant an accused the right to a reasonable bond except in the most serious of crimes. Therefore, you will be entitled to bond; however, the amount of your bond will depend on several factors, including:
- Your previous criminal history if it indicates that you might be a threat to the community
- The instant charges
- Any previous failure to appears
- Your ties to the community
If your initial bond is set too high for you and/or your loved ones to be able to afford, your criminal defense attorney may be able to request a hearing to review your bond and get it lowered.
5. How does a criminal defense attorney defend violent crime cases?
Because every criminal prosecution is based on a unique set of facts and circumstances there is no universal defense to violent crimes. There are, however, some common defense strategies used by criminal defense attorneys. For example, sometimes the victim is actually the key to defending a violent crime if the victim is likely to decline to cooperate with the prosecution or the victim has an ulterior motive for alleging that a crime even occurred. A co-defendant can also be the key to a defense if he/she was the more culpable of the two. Finally, law enforcement officers themselves can be the best defense to a violent crime if they made mistakes during the investigation of the crime.
6. Will my attorney be able to talk to the alleged victim before trial?
Absolutely! Yet another right you have as an accused is the right to confront and cross examine witnesses against you. Known as the “confrontation clause,” the 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ensures that a defendant knows who has made accusations against him/her and has the opportunity to cross-examine the witness. While true cross-examination is done at trial, your attorney can schedule a deposition prior to trial. A deposition takes place out of court but under oath and provides your attorney with an opportunity to ask a witness, in this case the alleged victim, questions that may be asked at trial in order to determine what the witnesses plans to testify to at trial.
7. Can I do anything to help my criminal defense attorney with my case?
Yes! There are several things a client can do to help his/her attorney throughout a criminal prosecution, starting with being honest and forthcoming with your attorney. You should also listen to the advice your attorney gives you and be patient while your attorney is doing his/her job. Above all, do not get into more trouble while your case is pending!
If you have been arrested and charged with a violent crime in the State of Tennessee, you need an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney on your side immediately to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the prosecution of your case. Contact the team at Bennett & Michael today by calling 615-410-2454 to schedule your appointment.