Archive for January, 2009
A typical misconception in our society is that criminal convictions, including Tennessee DUI convictions, can be erased from a criminal record. Tennessee law allows for a charge to be expunged, or erased, from one’s record only if the charge has been dismissed. The passage of time alone, even for years, will not be sufficient to allow for expungement under Tennessee law. This is why it is so important to obtain the best possible representation as soon as possible after a DUI, traffic or other criminal charge has been brought against you. Once convicted, the record of that conviction remains on your criminal history forever – possibly causing the loss of job opportunities, and affecting one’s ability and or the rates of life and health insurance.
Once a charge is dismissed (whether by agreement, acquittal a “no true bill” or executive clemency), specific procedures must be followed to request expunction of public records relating to the arrest. To ensure that the proper procedures are followed, one should retain a lawyer to assist with the process. The process, however, can take up to 12 weeks due to the necessity of obtaining the necessary approval of the prosecution, the judge, and the various law enforcement agencies involved.
A common complaint heard from clients is that after their DUI arrest in Knoxville, TN, they receive a barrage of solicitation mail from Knoxville attorneys. Most of our clients are upset by this solicitation and feel their privacy has been violated.
A DUI arrest itself is stressful and embarrassing enough without the added strain of having mention of the arrest publicized to others in your household. In fact, many people with Tennessee DUI arrests wish to protect their loved ones from the anxiety and shame associated with a DUI arrest. Such a task is difficult to accomplish when a parent, spouse or loved one first learns of the arrest through attorney letters discussing the incident.
Many ask — is this legal? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. The Tennessee Rule of Professional Conduct (ethical rules) do not prohibit an attorney from sending correspondence to individuals with pending criminal cases, though certain restrictions are placed on such communication. Unfortunately, the records relating to your DUI arrest are public record, so there is no way to prevent receipt of these letters.
Should you decide to hire a DUI lawyer in Knoxville, Tennessee based upon a solicitation you received from the lawyer in the mail, be careful not to rely solely upon the information contained in this communication when making your choice. Click here to see our post discussing the factors you should consider when choosing a Tennessee DUI attorney.
Hiring a Knoxville, TN DUI Attorney (or a Tennessee DUI lawyer in the jurisdiction in which you were arrested) is one of the most important decisions you will make and should not be taken lightly. Our office receives several calls a month from DUI defendants who previously hired other lawyers and are unhappy with their representation. Some now want their conviction overturned, while others wish to fire their current Tennessee DUI lawyer for various reasons. Keep in mind that it is very difficult to overturn a conviction. Furthermore, because our firm finds greater success when our investigation and analysis of the case begins within the first week after arrest, we are reluctant to take a case after another lawyer has been retained.
When choosing a Tennessee attorney to handle your DUI case, you should consider many factors including, but not limited to, the following:
- Is the majority of the lawyer’s practice devoted to defending DUI cases? If so, for how long has the attorney’s practice focused on DUI defense?
- Did he or she graduate from an ABA accredited law school?
- Is the attorney in good standing with the State Bar or have any complaints been filed against him?
- Is the lawyer certified as a DUI Defense Specialist by the NCDD and the Tennessee Commission on CLE & Specialization?
- What is the attorney’s Martindale-Hubbell™ rating? Is it “AV”(very high to preeminent)?
- Does the lawyer have a “superb” Avvo rating?
- Has the lawyer frequently lectured to his or her peers on topics relating to DUI Defense?
- Has the attorney published any books or articles on DUI defense?
You should feel comfortable with the DUI attorney you choose and have confidence in his or her ability to provide you with a zealous defense to your case. We encourage you to personally interview a lawyer before making your decision and to hire the very best lawyer available. You typically only get one chance to present a defense to your Tennessee DUI case. A DUI charge may place your freedom, your job, your reputation and your future in jeopardy. Accordingly, the decision of which DUI lawyer you hire is extremely important.
“How soon after my arrest should I hire a Tennessee DUI attorney?” This is a common question following an arrest for the offense of Driving Under the Influence. The answer is simple–you should consult with a DUI lawyer as soon as possible after your DUI arrest.
“The arraignment for my DUI charge is a month away. Why do I need to hire a Tennessee DUI lawyer before my arraignment?” If you wait to hire a DUI lawyer, you take the risk of losing evidence that may be critical to the defense of your Tennessee DUI case. To properly preserve the defenses in your case, a Tennessee DUI lawyer must conduct a thorough interview of you as soon as possible after your arrest. Additionally, one main purpose of an arraignment in Tennessee is to set a new court date for a preliminary hearing of your case in General Sessions Court. Accordingly, the presence of your attorney at the arraignment is important to ensure that your attorney is available for your General Sessions court date.