What Are Hate Crimes?

When you look at one of the sites that cover news in a major Tennessee city, you’ll likely see at least one leading story that is connected to a hate crime. Most of the articles talk about someone who was injured because of a hate crime, has been arrested in relation to a hate crime or it’s about a local anti-hate crime protest.

What separates hate crimes from other types of crimes is that hate crimes actively aren’t about a personal connection. The driving reason behind hate crimes is that one person (or a group of people) represents a group that the perpetrator feels threatens them. Hate crimes can involve race, sexual orientation, religion, etc.

The Department of Justice is quick to point out that in the case of hate crimes, the word hate is a bit misleading. Normally, hate is used to describe an intense and negative emotion, but in this situation, it is used to describe bias.

Hate crimes are a huge problem. While only one person might be an actual victim, the end result is that a single hate crime creates a ripple effect so that it impacts friends, family and even a community’s reputation.

Tennessee lawmakers are so worried about hate crimes in the state, that they’ve created a single, separate law to deal with the issue. Tennessee hate crimes are addressed in Penal Code Sections 422.55, 422.6, 422.7 and 422.75 PC.

In Tennessee, you can be charged with a misdemeanor hate crime or a felony hate crime.

If convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime in Tennessee, you can be sentenced to a full year in a county jail and required to pay a maximum fine of $5,000, plus restitution. Some judges will settle for sentencing you to probation instead of actual jail time. You can also be required to complete up to 400 hours of community service.

If you’re convicted of a felony hate crime, Penal Code 422.75 PC section D states that “a person who is punished pursuant to this section also shall receive an additional term of one year in the state prison for each prior felony conviction on charges brought and tried separately in which it was found by the trier of fact or admitted by the defendant that the crime was a hate crime. This additional term shall only apply where a sentence enhancement is not imposed pursuant to Section 667 or 667.5.”

In many cases, additional charges, such as aggravated assault, are also filed.

 

Resisting Arrest In Tennessee

Resisting arrest is usually an additional charge individuals discover they have to deal with after they’ve been arrested.

What Is Resisting Arrest?

The easiest way to think of resisting arrest is to consider it a catchall phrase/charge police use to describe basically any situation where a suspect fails to quietly submit to being arrested. Individuals who have also taken steps to make it difficult for the police to conduct a proper investigation have also found themselves charged with resisting arrest.

The problem with resisting arrest charges is that they can sometimes be subjective and based on little more than the arresting officer’s attitude on a given day. Protesting when handcuffs are put on, balking when being loaded into the police car and running when the police indicate they’re about to arrest you are examples of resisting arrest. The problem is that some people have been charged with resisting arrest because an officer felt they took too long to respond to a question or weren’t happy when told to do something simple, such as presenting their hands to be cuffed.

Reasons officers have filed resisting arrest charges in Tennessee include:

  • The individual provided false identification to the officer.
  • The individual deliberately prevented the officer from questioning a witness.
  • The individual knowingly interfered while the police were conducting surveillance.
  • The individual got in the way while the officer was arresting another person.

The good news is that being convicted of a resisting arrest charge requires that a few things happen.

If the charge goes to court, the burden of proof lies with the prosecutor and arresting officer. To secure a guilty conviction, they have to:

  • Prove that you understood you were being arrested and that you were confident that the person doing the arresting was a police officer.
  • That your acts of resistance were intentional and not triggered by confusion, miscommunication, fear or intimidation.
  • Show that the officer followed strict protocol during the arrest and didn’t do anything that encouraged you to resist.

What Happens If You’re Convicted Of Resisting Arrest?

Resisting arrest in Tennessee is considered a misdemeanor. If you’re found or plead guilty, the maximum sentence includes spending a full year in a county jail and being required to pay a $1,00 fine. When the judge gets ready to sentence you, they’ll look at things like the circumstances that led up to the resisting arrest charge, your criminal history and even the arresting officer’s history. In many cases, the judge will ultimately opt to simply sentence you to misdemeanor probation and require that you pay some sort of fine.

Defending Yourself From A Resisting Arrest Charge

If you’re defending yourself from a resisting arrest charge in Tennessee, the first thing you need to do is align yourself with a good lawyer who will help you present a case. Possible defenses in a resisting arrest case include:

  • You were falsely accused.
  • You didn’t understand what the police officer expected.

Since witness statements are so important when it comes to defending against resisting arrest in Tennessee charges, you’ll want to address the issue while everyone still has a clear memory of the events.

 

Is It Legal to Break a Window to Save a Child or Pet from a Hot Car

Summer is in full swing. Not only does this mean that the kids are out of school for the season, but the temperatures are at their peak. Summer holds a number of problems for parents. Not only do they have to try to figure out what to do with their children while still managing their normal work schedule, they also have to make sure their kids keep cool.

Nobody likes being in the heat for prolonged periods, and young children are especially susceptible to high temperatures. Younger kids don’t know how to take care of themselves and have to rely on their parent’s judgement. This means that a parent should never leave their child unattended in a hot situation.

One particular situation that might seem obvious to some, but is still shocking to others, is leaving a child alone in a car on a hot day. Some parents still think that this is an acceptable thing to do, but that is not the case. Something as simple as this can turn dangerous, or even deadly, in minutes.

Cars Equal Ovens: How Hot Does Your Car Get?

While driving a vehicle on a summer day, people often have the air conditioner cranked to the max. This fills the cars with cool, comfortable air while it is being driven. However, the minute the car is shut off, this cool air disappears. Some parents believe that this cool air will last for five minutes while they are in the store. Their kid should be fine in the car alone for just a few minutes, right? Wrong.

Cars are like giant, solar-powered ovens. Many people know the unpleasant experience of going down a metal slide on a hot day as a kid. Just touching metal that has been in the sun for a little bit is unpleasant, try being inside of it. On top of that, the glass windows of cars act like a magnifying glass and amplify the Sun’s rays. This, combined with the lack of air movement inside the vehicle creates an oven that even cracking the windows or parking in the shade can’t fix.

Cracking the windows just a little bit does not allow enough air movement to cool the car down. Anyone who has ever been stranded on the side of a desert road will attest to the fact that even having the door fully open doesn’t allow enough air movement inside the vehicle. Parking in the shade may slow the process slightly, but the hot air surrounding the vehicle will still increase the interior temperature of the vehicle.

Most experts agree that once the outside temperatures reach 75 degrees Fahrenheit, it is too hot to leave anyone in a vehicle. At this temperature, the inside of a car can reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes. If the outside temperature is 80 degrees, then the inside temps can reach 100 in just 10 minutes.

Basically, don’t leave anyone, child or pets, unattended inside a vehicle in weather that is warmer than 70 degrees.


When to Smash a Window to Rescue a Child or Pet Locked in a Hot Car

Unfortunately, people still have a tendency to leave children, and pets, inside their vehicles while they make a “quick” trip into the store. An estimated 22 kids have died in 2018 after suffering from heatstroke caused by being left alone in a car. This causes many people to want to help out if they see a child, or even a pet, alone in a vehicle on a hot day. However, this is a bit tricky in Tennessee.

Last year, in 2017, the state of Tennessee passed a law that allows people to break into vehicles in order to save the life of an animal trapped inside. AB 797 amended Tennessee Civil Code and Penal Code to ensure that a person who damages and/or trespasses within a vehicle will not face any criminal charges if the damage and trespass occurred while rescuing an animal from the vehicle. The protections only occur if they are breaking into the vehicle that was the last resort and that other methods were not tried first. This means that before anyone springs into action, they should first call 911. The operator can send help and may be able to guide the person through some other ways of getting into the car without causing large amounts of damage.

It is important to note that the law specifically states this only happens when the person is rescuing an animal, not a child. The law makes no mention of protection if the actions are done to save a child’s life. This means that legally, you cannot break into a car to save a child inside who is suffering from heat stroke. If you see a child alone in a vehicle on a hot day, alert the proper authorities immediately, and stay close to the vehicle to keep an eye on the situation.

Summer Heat Is Here to Stay

As the summer progresses with its intense heat, parents need to be aware that they should never leave their child, or pet, inside a vehicle on a hot day. Several kids have already died this year to heatstroke cause by doing this, which is something no parent wants to face. If the kids can’t be left at home, then they need to go into the store with their parents. Simple as that.

If a person comes across a vehicle in a parking lot with a pet locked inside on a hot day, he can break into the vehicle to rescue the animal. Provided he has tried every other option and has contacted the local authorities already.

When it comes to finding a child in the same situation, legally, the person cannot break into the car. He should contact emergencies services and proceed from there. Once he has done that, his next move is up to him.

 

You’ve Been Arrested For DUI… Again

Getting arrested and charged for DUI once in Tennessee is terrifying and life-altering. The second time you’re arrested for the same thing is even worse.

Like many states, Tennessee lawmakers have decided that to take a hard stance on drunk drivers. One of the ways they’ve done this is by creating laws that make a second (and each additional offense) significantly worse than the first. The reason for this is because while a single DUI could be the result of a bad judgment and an honest mistake, additional arrests indicate that you have a habit of driving while under the influence and a menace to society.

DUIs are addressed in Tennessee Vehicle Code Section 23152. The second time you’re convicted of a DUI in Tennessee, the result will include losing your ability to drive, fines, mandatory enrollment in substance abuse programs and jail time.

When you’re convicted of a second DUI in Tennessee, you will be required to spend at least 96 hours in the county jail. That’s the minimum amount of jail time connected to a second DUI. The maximum amount of time you can serve is 12 months.

You should expect to pay a higher fine than you did for the first offense. Typically, the fine for a second DUI is between $390 and $1,000, but that might not be all you’ll have to pay. Most courts add penalty assessments to the DUI fine. These assessments can multiply the fine to five times the anticipated amount. In some situations, the judge will allow you to choose to extend the amount of time you serve in jail or do a great deal of community service in exchange for paying the fine.

Since January 1, 2019, a guilty conviction of a second DUI in Tennessee requires that the judge order an ignition interlock device be attached to your vehicle. This only happens if the two convictions are less than 10 years apart.

The second DUI means you’ll lose your driving privileges. The good news is that the loss of your license probably won’t be permanent. In Tennessee, the current license suspension for a second DUI is a 1-year suspension (administrative per se) or a 2-year suspension if you are convicted.

It’s worth noting that in some situations, the judge will grant you a restricted license. This doesn’t mean you’ll be allowed to drive wherever you want. But if you’re able to present a compelling case to the judge, they’ll allow you to drive to work and to manage things like transporting your children. If you’re caught driving to places that aren’t specified in the paperwork connected to your suspended license or you’re driving at a time when you’re not supposed to, the restricted driving privileges will be taken away.

The only way you’ll be granted a restricted license is if you didn’t refuse to take a blood or urine test when you were originally arrested for the second DUI.

In addition to dealing with the actual criminal consequences of a second DUI, if you damaged property or injured/killed someone while driving drunk, it’s likely you’ll also find yourself engaged in a civil case as well.

The best way to avoid all of these consequences is making sure you never get behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking or using drugs.

 

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.