What Is A Plea Bargain?

Considering how many people are arrested each year in Tennessee, there are surprisingly few criminal trials. There are usually two reasons a case doesn’t go to trial. The first is because the charges were dropped, either due to lack of evidence or because the person who filed the charges changed their mind.

The second reason is that the accused ultimately decides to accept a plea bargain.

The simplest way to describe a plea bargain is that it is an agreement that both the defendant and the prosecution enter into. In most cases, the defendant opts to take the plea bargain because they’re worried that if the case goes to trial, they’ll be found guilty and face steep consequences. When compared to the possible consequences connected to the trial, the plea bargain feels like a good deal.

Most plea bargains involve a reduction of charges. An example of this could be changing the charges from a felony to a misdemeanor or going from a 1st-degree offense to a 3rd-degree offense. While defendant will have a criminal record, the amount of time they have to spend in jail decreases as does the amount of fines they’ll pay.

Procedural shows always make it seem like a plea bargain concludes everything. That once a plea bargain is made, the defendant automatically gets whatever the prosecutor offered, but that’s not how real life works.

Before the plea bargain can be finalized, the prosecutor must alert a judge to the situation. The judge will want to look at the evidence the police collected, the charges, the terms of the deal. They may even look at similar cases. While it’s unusual, the judge can tell the prosecutor that the plea bargain isn’t acceptable, forcing both sides to reevaluate the case. In this situation, the prosecutor will either have to offer a different deal, decide to drop the charges or prepare for a trial.

Defendants are free to reject a plea bargain.

The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance estimates that 95% of cases end in a plea bargain.

 

Catching Police Officers On Film

Videos of police officers behaving badly have a history of going viral. This sheds a bad light on police officers throughout the entire state of Tennessee. Isn’t it interesting how videos of police officers doing good things never seem to make it onto the internet?

If you plan on filming a police officer there are few things you need to consider before you hit record.

Tennessee doesn’t currently have any laws that forbid you from filming police officers in action, but that doesn’t mean you can get in the officer’s way while they’re conducting official business. It doesn’t matter if you’re hoping to catch a scandal or simply want to shine a positive light on the police, if you’re filming impedes their ability to do their job, you can be charged with interfering with a police investigation.

If the police officer asks why you’re filming, don’t become belligerent about your First Amendment Rights. Don’t lose your temper or insult the officer, which could prompt them into looking for a reason to issue a citation or arresting you. Simply explain what you’re doing and promise that you won’t do anything to get in the way. Remember, distracting the police officer while they’re investigating a case or issuing a traffic ticket could be considered interference.

Be aware of how you’re handling your phone or any other equipment you’re using to film. You don’t want the officer to glance up and think you have a gun in your hand.

Many experts suggest that you set up your recording equipment so that the footage can only be accessed with a passcode. This prevents the police from commandeering your recording equipment and possibly deleting the footage. Having the equipment password protected requires that they get a warrant before they can access the footage.

The trick to filming the police while they’re in action is to use common sense and to stay out of their way.

If your filming efforts result in you getting arrested, you need to remain calm. Don’t provide any information beyond the basics and contact a good lawyer who has a solid understanding of civil rights laws and the First Amendment.

 

Mail Theft Laws In The US

As people are forced to stay within their homes, many previously easy tasks have become a little more difficult and stressful. For instance, going grocery shopping is now a much bigger chore than it was a few months ago. One particular task that remains completely unchanged for some, and more difficult for others, is going to get the mail.

For those people who have a mailbox right outside their house, there hasn’t been much of a change. However, not everyone has a personal mailbox. A lot of people have PO boxes either at one single spot on the side of the road in their neighborhood or at a local post office. Checking these has become a little more difficult since they require going out in public.

Due to the lockdown, a lot of people are checking their PO boxes less frequently and crooks are aware of this. With more free time on their hands and a surplus of easy targets, crooks are stealing mail more and more during this lockdown.

The U.S. Definition Of Mail Theft

Mail theft is illegal both at the federal and state level here in Tennessee. Title 18 of United States Code 1708 defines the crime of mail theft for the entire country. In a very legalese way, the law states that anyone who takes or tampers with mail that isn’t addressed to them without permission from the recipient with the intent of committing a crime is guilty of mail theft and should be punished by a fine and no more than 5 years imprisonment.

Some of the acts that are included in this definition include:

  • Taking mail from someone’s mailbox.
  • Taking mail from the post office or a delivery vehicle.
  • Using fraud or deception to take someone else’s mail.
  • Opening someone else’s mail.
  • Taking the contents of someone else’s mail.
  • Destroying someone else’s mail.
  • Hiding someone else’s mail.
  • Buying or receiving known stolen mail.

Another important aspect that needs to be defined is what counts as mail. Under this law, the following can all be considered “mail:”

  • Letters
  • Mailbags
  • Packages
  • Postcards

Acts that aren’t considered mail theft include opening a loved one’s mail since family members usually have permission to open one another’s mail. Any time a person has permission from the recipient or isn’t intending to commit a crime, they aren’t guilty of mail theft.

Tennessee’s Mail Theft Law

Here in Tennessee, Penal Code 530.5e explains what counts as mail theft in the state and what the consequences of the crime will be. This law states that anyone guilty of mail theft, as described in Section 1708 of Title 18 of the US Code, is guilty of a public offense here in Tennessee.

If a person breaks into a community PO Box, then they are guilty of mail theft under federal law. The same holds for people who take packages off of porches. If a person does either of these or anything similar to this, then they will be guilty of mail theft here in Tennessee.

Mail theft is considered a misdemeanor crime here in Tennessee. The penalties for the crime are:

  • A max fine of $1,000.
  • Up to one year in county jail.
  • Misdemeanor probation.

Don’t Let The Mail Pile Up

Dealing with lockdowns and daily life under this pandemic can be rough. Mail theft makes it all that much more annoying. The best way to avoid mail theft is to regularly check for mail. Don’t let it pile up in the box. Doing so could leave valuable personal information in a less than secure spot that crooks can easily access and then use to commit identity theft.

If a person has been a victim of mail theft, then they should report the incident to the local authorities right away. Despite the lockdowns, they are still out their protecting and serving in every way that they can.

 

Co-Signing For A Loved One’s Bail

One of the worst middle of the night calls you’ll ever get is a loved one telling you that they’ve been arrested. There usually isn’t much you can do after the initial call. Soon your loved one will find out how much their bail is and will likely call you again.

In many cases, the bail is a small enough amount that you’re able to come up with the money on your own, but sometimes it’s just too much for you or your loved one to handle.

If your incarcerated loved one decides to contact Action Bail Bonding and request that they need help with bail, there’s a chance you’ll be asked to co-sign.

Is A Bail Co-Signer Necessary?

Just because your loved one has contacted Action Bail Bonding it doesn’t mean that you’ll have to co-sign. One of the reasons we’ve become the best bail bond company in Tennessee is because we don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to bail bonds. When we are contacted, we dig deep into your loved one’s history. Based on what we find we decide if:

  • We’ll let them make payments.
  • If they have collateral we’ll accept.
  • If they get a discount.
  • If they need a co-signer.

If You Have To Co-Sign For Bail

If you do have to co-sign for your loved one’s bail, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

First, you’re co-signing for the entire amount of the bail and not just for the ten percent we’ll keep after your loved one’s case.

If your loved one fails to make one of their court appearances, you’ll be responsible for reimbursing the entire amount of the bail to us.

If you decide to co-sign for your loved one’s bail, keep in mind that you’ll likely be using some tangible property, such as a home, car or jewelry as collateral. If your loved one fails to appear in court, we’ll take the items.

Because you have a vested interest in the case, you do have some rights. For example, if something happens to shake your faith in your loved one and you suddenly decide that they’re not going to show up for a court date, you can contact us and we’ll see that their bail is revoked and they will be arrested.

At the end of the day, only you can decide if your loved one will be a flight risk. If you’re confident that they’ll behave themselves and make their court dates, agreeing to co-sign for their bail is an excellent way to develop a closer relationship and also gain their loyalty.

Are you thinking about co-signing for a loved one’s bail? Contact Action Bail Bonding for a FREE consultation at 901-476-2245 or click Talk To An Agent Now to chat.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bail

Here at Action Bail Bonding, we have learned that most people have a whole lot of questions about bail and how it works. Luckily for our clients, our bail agents are more than capable of answering any questions about the bail process.

In fact, in order to help you out, here are some of the most commonly asked questions:

  1. How Much Does A Bail Bond Cost?
    The exact price of a bail bond varies from case to case. However, all of our bail bonds cost 10% of the bail that they are for. This means that if someone’s bail is set at $20,000, then the bail bond will only cost $2,000.
  2. Do You Offer Discounts?
    Yes, we can offer a 20% discount on the cost of the bail bond, meaning you would only have to pay 8% of the full bail price. To qualify for this discount, you or one of the co-signers for the bail bond needs to be a homeowner, have a private attorney or be a member of the military, AARP or a union.
  3. Can I Make Payments?
    Yes, we provide all of our clients with personalized payment plans to help reduce the cost of the bail bond. With these plans, you only have to make one payment before your friend or family member will be released from jail.
  4. How Much Is The Interest?
    We don’t charge any interest on our payment plans.
  5. How Long Does The Release Take?
    The length of a person’s release process is largely dependent on the jail where they are being held. Larger jails have more inmates, and therefore more paperwork to process daily, which can slow down the release process. Some jails can have a person out of jail in a few hours, and others can take up to a day to process the paperwork.
  6. Can You Bail Someone Out Of Jail In Nevada?
    No, we cannot. Action Bail Bonding is only licensed to post bail here in the state of Tennessee. We cannot bail someone out of jail in any other state.

This is just a few samples of the questions that our bail agents answer daily. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to call and talk to one of our professional bail agents. All consultations are FREE and we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (including holidays). You can count on Action Bail Bonding to be there for you whenever you need us. Call us today!

Bail help is only a phone call away at Action Bail Bonding, call 901-476-2245 or click Talk To An Agent Now to chat.

 

Tennessee’s Stand Your Ground Laws

The last thing anyone wants is to be put in a dangerous situation where they need to defend themselves from an attacker. Unfortunately, this situation does happen on rare occasions. As if this wasn’t bad enough, there are some states in the US that don’t allow people to defend themselves with any means necessary. This means that in some states, a person who may have killed someone in self-defense, could actually face murder charges.

Due to this fact, a person needs to be aware of their state’s laws when it comes to self-defense, particularly stand your ground laws.

Castle Defense

Here in Tennessee, the state does not have a stand your ground law, but it does have a Castle Doctrine. Penal Code 198.5 allows a person to use deadly force within their own home so long as certain worries arise. As long as all of the following occurs, a person is allowed to use deadly force to protect their home:

  • A person broke into their home.
  • The intruder was not a law enforcement officer doing their job.
  • There was reasonable fear of death or injury for the homeowner or a family member.
  • The occupants of the home didn’t provoke the intruder.

In those instances, a person can do whatever they need to in order to protect themselves and their loved ones from harm.

Self-Defense While Out

The problem with Penal Code 198.5 is that it only applies when a person is in their own home. It doesn’t give a person the right to defend themselves while out in public. This is where stand your ground laws come into play in other states. These laws grant a person the ability to do what they feel they need to in times of distress in order to protect themselves from an attacker.

Tennessee does not have a particular stand your ground law. However, Tennessee does recognize that there are times where a person may need to use deadly force in order to defend themselves. Tennessee Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM) 505 and 506 instruct jurors to find defendants innocent of crimes such as homicide or assault if the person acted reasonably under the given circumstances, specifically:

  • The person reasonably believed they were in danger of being hurt or killed.
  • The person reasonably believed they needed to use force to keep themselves safe.
  • The person used only the amount of force necessary to protect themselves.

As long as a person followed the above, they should be found innocent.

In some states, a person needs to run away from a threat before they are legally permitted to use deadly force. That is not the case in Tennessee. As long as a person is defending themselves from threat of injury or death, they can do whatever they reasonably feel they need to in order to survive.

Stand Your Ground Vs. Castle Defense

While both stand your ground laws and castle defense laws refer to a person defending themselves from an attacker, they are not exactly the same. Stand your ground laws apply wherever a person may be while castle defense only applies when a person is within their own home or a few select places, such as their car.

No one ever wants to need to defend themselves, but the need can arise in rare instances. If a person ever finds themselves needing to protect themselves in Tennessee, they can rest easy knowing that the state will not fault them for doing whatever they felt was necessary to protect themselves during the situation.

What do you think of Tennessee’s take on stand your ground laws and castle defense?

Should people be allowed to use reasonable, even deadly, force in order to defend themselves from an attacker? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.

 

Is It Worth Fighting A Traffic Ticket?

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When you get a traffic ticket for speeding or running a stop sign, you can easily pay it, but you wonder whether it is worth fighting the ticket. You might be able to get it reduced or thrown out altogether. In some cases, it can be worth it to fight. However, it is not always the easiest or fastest thing to deal with. In the long run, you may end up losing more money on wasted time. Before you decide, evaluate the pros and cons, including how disruptive it could be to your daily routine and how much you have to gain or lose financially. You need to look at not only your ticket, but your insurance premiums that could increase due to the ticket.

You can get out of paying for a traffic ticket if you show up for court, but the officer does not. This results in an automatic win for you because you are being denied the right to question your accuser. If you postpone your court date and even choose one close to the holidays, you could be increasing your chances on having a no-show from the officer. Officers tend to schedule all their court appearances on the same days so they can do them all at once. If you can get the date moved, you could be in luck. If you get a date close to a major holiday, there is a chance the officer is off on vacation. The officer also may not show up for court if your ticket is inexpensive and is for a very low-level incident.

If you get a ticket based on camera footage, the ticket can get dismissed if the court does not have the video or picture. The courthouse may not want to go through the trouble of acquiring that video footage which means you win and do not have to pay the ticket.

There are other ways to fight a ticket, like getting a lawyer who specializes in traffic cases, but the ones mentioned here are the easiest, fastest, and most affordable ways to get out of paying for the ticket. These depend on your luck, but there could be a chance that luck is on your side.

Can I Get Arrested For Filming Cops On Duty?

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In today’s modern age, just about everyone has a smart device in their pocket or purse. These spectacular little devices allow us to do so many different things. We can talk to loved ones who live on the other side of the country, search for information online, and even take pictures and videos of the world around us.

It is this last use that has stirred up a bit of controversy over the last few years. People now have the ability to record whatever they want at a moment’s notice. Anything a person does out in public can be recorded, which has a lot of people concerned about their own privacy.

What’s more, is the problem that many law enforcement officers are currently facing, which is being recorded while working. There have been dozens of videos in recent years where police officers have been caught on video using excessive force. In an effort to prevent themselves from being filmed, some officers try to claim that recording them on the job is illegal. However, that is not the case.

Can You Record the Police?

The short and simple answer to this question is: yes.

It is perfectly legal for a civilian to film and otherwise record a law enforcement officer while they are working in a public place. Everyone has the legal right to film anything that is in a public space, whether that be everyday people or working police officers.

Filming on-duty police officers is viewed as a form of public oversight over the government. It is also protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. This is why it is legally acceptable for someone to record an officer, even in Tennessee.

Tennessee is one of a few states where a person can only record a conversation if all parties participating within the conversation give their consent. However, Tennessee courts have ruled that this law does not apply to on-duty officers.

Recording an officer can cause a bit of a power struggle. Officers are not used to being recorded for doing their job, and many people view allowing someone to record them as a power of theirs. They get to control what people do and don’t see about them. No one wants to give up that power, especially to a stranger. This is why some officers have issues with people recording them, and why they will try to stop the recording. They may try to claim that it is illegal for someone to record them, but they are wrong.

What Will Get You Into Trouble?

While the act of recording an on-duty police officer will not get a person into trouble, there are other things a person can do while recording that could get them into a bit of trouble. No matter what a person is doing, they still need to follow police instructions and stay out of the way. If a person gets in the way of a police investigation, they can be arrested for obstruction of justice.

Due to this fact, it is important that a person filming an officer keep their distance and follow officer instruction. However, if an officer tells a person to stop filming them, the person has the right to keep doing so. They will need to remain calm, and politely inform the officer that they are expressing their First Amendment right to film the officer. Depending on the situation and the officer involved, that could be the end of it, or the officer could find some other reason to arrest the person filming them. It all depends on how the person handles the situation, and what kind of mood the officer is in at the time of the confrontation.

At the end of the day, it is legal to film an on-duty police officer while they are in a public space. This goes for filming anyone when they are in a public space. Of course, the polite thing to do would be to ask for a person’s permission, however it is not always necessary under certain circumstances.

If a person feels that they are about to witness a police officer doing something potentially wrong, then they can start recording if they want. Doing so is a part of all United States citizens’ rights. Everyone has a right to keep an eye on the government, and that includes recording police officers while they are on-duty.

So what’s your take? Can police film you too without your consent?

Tennessee’s Attitude Towards Hit And Run Accidents

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When it comes to hit and run accidents, Tennessee’s lawmakers don’t have a sense of humor. They created laws that deal with hit and run accidents that simply involve property damage, and for hit and run accidents that resulted in someone getting hurt. If you’re charged with a hit and run, you must understand the difference between the two types of incidents.

A hit-and-run accident that simply results in property damage isn’t the end of the world. It doesn’t matter if you hit someone’s mailbox and knocked it over or if you rear-ended their car and fled the scene of the accident. As long as only property was damaged, you’ll only face misdemeanor charges.

That changes if someone was hurt during the accident. If someone was hurt, you’ll be facing felony charges.

What Is A Hit And Run Accident?

When you were first learning how to drive a car, you should have learned that Tennessee law states that if you were involved in an accident, you’re legally required to move your vehicle into a spot where it’s not going to cause additional accidents and report the accident to the police. You’re supposed to stay at the scene until the police tell you that you’re free to go. The only exception is if you don’t have a working phone and need to go to a nearby house/business and use their phone to report the accident. Once you’ve reported the accident, you need to return to the accident scene.

You’re legally involved in a hit and run accident if:

  • You leave the scene of an accident.
  • Fail to report the accident.
  • Neglect to provide all involved parties with your identity and insurance information.

One Important Fact About Hit And Run Accidents In Tennessee

When most people hear that the police are looking for a person/vehicle involved in a hit-and-run accident, they assume that they are looking for the driver who caused the accident. That’s not always the case. In Tennessee, you are required to stay at the scene even if you were the victim of another person’s driving. If you leave, the police will start looking for you.

There have even been cases of a driver getting involved in a hit and run even though they weren’t actually involved in the accident. They became involved because it was their driving that triggered the accident. If you even suspect you were involved in the accident, you need to remain on the scene.

What If The Property Owner Isn’t There?

There are some situations where you might not be able to talk to the property owner. Examples of this would be bumping into a parked car or hitting a mailbox. Don’t assume that because the property owner isn’t there that you’re off the hook. The best response is to call the police and get them involved in the situation. Another option is to leave a note that provides the property owner with your contact information.

What Happens If You’re Convicted Of A Hit And Run Accident?

If you’re convicted of a hit-and-run accident a few different things will happen. The first is that you’ll be responsible for the traffic ticket and other consequences related to the accident. If the accident only involved property damage, you only face misdemeanor charges which includes a maximum sentence of six months in jail, probation, two points getting added to your driving record, and a $1,000 fine. You’ll also have to make restitution.

If someone is hurt during the accident, you’ll be convicted of a felony. The maximum sentence includes a fine that can be as high as $10,000, three years in a state prison, and restitution.

There have been multiple cases where the hit and run driver was convicted of both misdemeanor and felony hit and run charges.

No matter how bad things might seem following an accident, the situation will only get worse if you drive away. If you think that no one will notice, remember that between traffic cameras, cell phones, and dashboard cameras, it’s likely that there will be a great deal of footage of your vehicle, including your license plate so it won’t be difficult for the police to track you down.

 

What Do You Know About Bail Bonds?

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If you are like most people, then your answer to the question, What do you know about bail bonds?, is probably somewhere along the lines of not much. That is perfectly fine. Most people never need to know anything about bail or bail bonds. Unfortunately, sometimes things happen and a person finds themselves needing to post bail.

Sometimes the bail is for yourself. Other times the bail is for a loved one. Regardless of who the bail is for, chances are you are going to want some help with it. Aside from simply not knowing much about how bail works, you’ve also discovered that it is incredibly expensive. You can solve both of those problems by contacting Action Bail Bonding.

Since our founding in 1987, Action Bail Bonding has been helping Tennesseens deal with bail.

We know everything there is to know about the subject and are more than willing to share that knowledge with you.

Our bail agents are available to talk to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (including holidays). They will always be there to answer any of your bail-related questions.

Aside from just explaining the bail process, we also work hard to make it cheaper as well. For instance, our bail bonds only cost 10% of your loved one’s bail. This means that you can save 90% just by coming to us for help. On top of that, we can set you up with a personalized payment plan and may even be able to offer you an additional discount if you qualify.

We do a lot for our clients here, including:

  • 24/7 Bail Bond Service
  • FREE Online or Phone Consultation
  • 20% Discount (to qualifying clients)
  • 0% Interest Payment Plans
  • Over the Phone Approvals
  • No Hidden Fees
  • No Collateral with Working Co-Signer
  • Easy to Understand Contracts
  • Discrete Service
  • Se Habla Español

No one should ever feel ashamed to ask for help, especially bail help. At Action Bail Bonding we understand that most people don’t need bail. However, when the time comes to bail someone out of jail, we are always there to lend a hand.

What are you waiting for? You can talk to a bail agent for FREE by calling Action Bail Bonding at 901-476-2245 or by clicking Chat With Us now.