Facing a DUI / Criminal Charge. It is a situation that many never expect to be in, and for many it can feel overwhelming. However, whether you are innocent, made a mistake, or did break the law, handling the situation the right way can maximize your chances of making the best of your situation and hopefully getting the best resolution possible.
*This is solely an informative guide, intended to lay forth what someone facing a DUI or Criminal Charge in Knoxville, TN might need to consider or know. This is NOT legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For an attorney-client relationship to be formed, a separate, binding Contract for Legal Representation would need to be signed.
If arrested for DUI or Criminal Charges, Day 1 can seem like one of the worst days of your life. But now is no time to withdraw in defeat – now is the time to start handling the problem!
If you were issued a citation in lieu of arrest, you can skip down to the section labeled “Lawyer Up.”
BAIL – However, if you were arrested, you will want to consider whether you can “make bail.” If bail is set, the amount of your bail is often determined early on by a magistrate. If you or a loved one cannot pay the full bail amount, consider using a bonding agency (they will usually charge around 10% of the bail amount plus a one-time fee of around $50). If you are unable to bail out, that can sometimes unfortunately mean you will be detained until at least the resolution of the charge(s).
IMPOUNDED CAR – If you can make bail, find out if your automobile was impounded and consider retrieving it immediately. Between bail, attorney fees, court costs, missed days at work, etc., this process will already be pricey enough. You probably don’t want an astronomical impound fee on top of it (and do know that this bill usually builds up pretty quickly).
LAWYER UP – One question I get asked pretty often is if someone needs an attorney. If you’re having to answer that question, the answer is almost always a resounding “YES.” Speaking specifically to DUI / Criminal Charges, you don’t want to look back with regret wishing you had taken matters more seriously. More than money and possessions are on the line – your livelihood, future, and very freedom are often at risk. Hiring the right attorney is a big step in making sure your rights are protected.
That being said, do your research. Hiring an attorney at random might not be the wisest course of action. Hiring an attorney because they tried buying your business with billboards or advertisements might not be either. Hire an attorney after you’re confident they’re the one you want to work with on this most important of matters. And while you don’t always need to hire an attorney on day one, you often should and will definitely want to start considering attorneys to call them very early on.
If you are wondering what attributes you can look for in an attorney, there are public websites that summarize an attorney’s awards, record, client reviews, and history. One such website is www.avvo.com (and do not worry, I am not receiving any royalties for using their site as an example).
If you cannot afford an attorney, and if loved ones are unable-disinclined to help you hire one, then make sure you inform the court on your first court date. If jail-time is a possible punishment, then you will probably be given an application to fill out to see if you qualify for an appointed attorney. Do NOT lie on this form, as doing so is the same as lying to the court. If you are found to qualify, the Public Defender will be assigned your case (or a private defense attorney, if the Public Defender has a conflict).
Ok. By this point you’ve made bail, retrieved your impounded vehicle, and hired an attorney you are confident working with on this matter (after doing a lot of research, of course). Now what?
UNWANTED ATTENTION – Unfortunately, while facing a DUI / Criminal Charge is difficult enough, you will also need to prepare yourself for unwanted attention. As with everything from here-on, please consult with your attorney as different attorneys might advise different courses of action. Plus, unless I am your attorney, your attorney hopefully knows your case better than me. However, generally speaking, here are some things to watch out for…
Prepare yourself for an onslaught of mailed advertisements. Many attorneys send out mailed advertisements to almost every person who faces a DUI / Criminal Charge. For a little bit it may seem overwhelming in its own right, but given a couple weeks will pass. However, this does make the list of things to watch out for, especially if the mail will be coming to an address you share with a spouse or loved one who you haven’t gotten around to discussing the charge(s) with. That being said
Prepare loved ones. This is not saying tell everyone what’s going on by any means (indeed, many attorneys advise clients not to discuss the details of their case with anyone except their attorney). What I mean when I ask you to consider telling loved ones is that there are people in your life that (1) you will need to lean on and/or (2) will discover matters on their own. It is very common for me to meet with not only a person accused with a DUI / Criminal Charge, but also their parents, spouse, or other loved ones when they are deciding which attorney to hire. A conversation with your attorney of who you should tell and when/how is a good conversation to have.
Prepare for your mugshot to enter the public domain. That mugshot that was taken of you, maybe when you were sleep-deprived and not looking your best? That will now be out there. Unless you are accused of a major crime (or there is a very slow news day), you quite probably won’t see it on the 6 o’clock news. However, there are websites and papers out there dedicated to publicizing these pictures of you at one of your worst times. Again with some time they will pass to a degree, however getting rid of them is difficult. The last time I had a client ask me to get one taken down and deleted, research turned up that it would costs a fee to do so.
Prepare your boss. This is another conversation that you should have with your attorney, but if you are going to be missing work for court, if word might reach your boss, if a conviction might affect your employment or a professional license, discussing this matter with your boss (or a licensing board, university, or other organization if applicable) is a conversation you will definitely want to have with your attorney.
MONTH 1 (AND BEYOND)
Ok. By now we have you hopefully somewhat back to regular life (except the charge(s) and court dates hanging over your head). You’re back to work, you have an attorney you trust – what now?
CONTACT WITH YOUR ATTORNEY – You would be surprised how often attorneys would be able to help out their clients but the attorney cannot get in touch with their client. To this point, always make sure the contact information your attorney has on file for you is up-to-date and accurate. You don’t want to have changed your number without telling your attorney, then forget you have a court date and then a warrant for your arrest to go out that may could have been avoided if your attorney’s phone calls weren’t to a disconnected number.
SHOW UP FOR COURT – Show up for court. This is an important step that too many people forget. Make sure to dress well, turn off your cell phone, be polite, and be on time. Follow your attorney’s instructions. Most of this part is common sense.
One good tip is to talk with your attorney and make sure you know which court you are scheduled for, on which date, at which time. There are a number of different courts in Knox County, Tennessee, and you don’t want to be in trouble for showing up at the wrong court or on the wrong date/time.
STAY OUT OF TROUBLE – This part might go without saying, but ESPECIALLY while you have a DUI / Criminal Charge(s) pending against you, stay out of further trouble. Don’t jay-walk, don’t speed, don’t break any laws. Also make sure you understand your bond conditions. Sometime these will affect such things as your ability to drive, consume alcohol, have contact with certain people, or go to certain places (to name a few). Again, ask your attorney if you have any questions.
Stay in touch with your attorney, show up for court, stay out of trouble. There are too many nuances in a case to talk about them all, but do talk to your attorney about them. It is my hope that this informative guide has helped along the way, and that you have a good resolution to your legal matters.
Very Truly Yours,
– Nick Lee –
The information on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and you should consult with an attorney in your state about the specific details of your case. Nothing on this site or in correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship and information you send prior to the forming of an attorney-client relationship may not be kept confidential. Neither this site nor correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as a promise nor as undertaking a duty regarding you or your case. Nicholas Lee and his agents are not retained as your legal counsel unless a valid written Representation Agreement is reached regarding your specific case.
“Defending Tennessee” is a privately-ran legal blog and is not a public legal aid agency. References to external sources are for the convenience and reference of the readers, but the accuracy of any information included in external sources is not guaranteed by Nicholas Lee, Lee Criminal Defense, nor any other authors/contributors . Additionally, any summary of case-law or representations about or in regards to the legal system are made with good intent, but Nicholas Lee, Lee Criminal Defense, and other authors/contributors do not accept any liability for any harm that may result from relying upon anything on this site – if you have a legal need, please consult an attorney licensed in your area immediately.