Do I need a lawyer if I’ve only been charged with a misdemeanor?

Yes. Anytime you are charged with a crime that can possibly carry a jail sentence, you need a lawyer. The fact that it is a misdemeanor only means that you cannot receive more than 11 months, 29 days in jail. People go to jail on misdemeanor charges quite often. Examples of misdemeanors are DUI, reckless driving, shoplifting, simple assault, trespassing, and simple possession of marijuana. Regardless of the facts of the case, there can be alternatives to incarceration and there are often ways to keep your record clean. It is difficult and sometimes impossible to protect your record after the fact. You need to discuss these matters and hire an experienced attorney before you go to court to ensure that you are well aware of all of your options.

Do I have to answer a police officer who is questioning me?

No. You have a constitutional right to remain silent.

If I begin to answer a police officer’s questions, can I change my mind and stop answering?

Yes, you can stop the police questioning at any time, merely by indicating that you do not wish to speak further. You can also ask for an attorney before you speak further.

Do the police always have to read me my Miranda rights?

No. The Miranda warning is required only if you are in custody and if the police intend to interrogate you. Consequently, a statement by a person who is not in custody or a statement made voluntarily (rather than through an interrogation) usually can be used against you even though no Miranda warning was given.

How strict are the DUI laws in Tennessee?

Tennessee treats DUI’s very seriously. Even a DUI 1st offense conviction carries a minimum mandatory jail sentence of 48 hours and a maximum of 11 months 29 days. It also carries mandatory fines, court costs, suspension of driver’s license, and completion of DUI school. DUI jail time, penalties and fines increase dramatically for persons convicted as a multiple offender.

There has been a spike in DUI arrests because of the use of drugs, both prescribed and otherwise. Any substance that impairs your ability to drive could subject you to the DUI law.

Finally, just because you have been arrested for DUI does not mean you will be found guilty of DUI, and even if you are convicted of DUI, an experienced DUI attorney can help you through the process of obtaining a restricted driver’s license through the court. If you have been arrested for a DUI, you should consult with an experienced attorney immediately.