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If you have been arrested for a crime in Tennessee, you have certain constitutional rights that must be given to you before you are questioned by law enforcement. Commonly referred to as your Miranda rights, they include the right to remain silent, the right to speak with an attorney before you are questioned whether you can afford an attorney or not and the right to know that anything you say can and will be used against you in court. If you can’t afford an attorney, the court must appoint an attorney for you before you can be questioned.
You also have the right to know the charges against you, and the identity of the law enforcement officers who you are dealing with. You also have the right to make one phone call. This call should be to your lawyer, a family member or someone you trust. At the police station, you will be “booked”, that is, processed into the jail. This process involves photographing you, making impressions of your fingerprints and getting some basic information from you. The people who are booking you will ask you your name, address, date of birth, and some other information for basic informational purposes. You should cooperate with this process, but do not answer any questions about why you are there or whether you have had any involvement in criminal activity. This goes for other people you meet in the jail. Do not talk to anyone about what happened until you have spoken with a criminal defense attorney.
In all but the most serious crimes, you are entitled to bond. If you are able to post bond, you get to go home until your case is resolved. Bonding companies are usually willing to assist you in posting bond so you’ll be able to get out of jail and resume your life.
The burden of proof in criminal cases is always on the State. Their case against you must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the highest standard we hold anyone to in proving things in court. There are many protections in place in the law to protect you against unfair practices that would allow the State to cut corners in your case. It isn’t a bad thing to make the State prove their case against you before you consider whether or not you want to proceed to trial.
If you have been charged with a crime, remember, you have the right to remain silent. Do not talk to the police until you talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Nothing you read on the Internet or hear from other people can substitute for the advice of a criminal defense attorney. Everyone’s case is different and you deserve a defense to your case.