The Herald Citizen reports several recent arrests in Putnam County, Tennessee, including burglary, theft of $1000 or less, simple possession, vandalism, aggravated assault, DUI, driving on suspended, drug paraphernalia, and evading arrest. Here is what those defendants may be facing. If you’re facing these or other charges, talk with a lawyer. Every case is unique.
Burglary (T.C.A. § 39-14-402)
A person commits a burglary who, without the effective consent of the property owner,
(1) Enters a building other than a habitation (or any portion thereof) not open to the public, with intent to commit a felony, theft or assault;
(2) Remains concealed, with the intent to commit a felony, theft or assault, in a building;
(3) Enters a building and commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft or assault; or
(4) Enters any freight or passenger car, automobile, truck, trailer, boat, airplane or other motor vehicle with intent to commit a felony, theft or assault or commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft or assault.
According to the news story, the defendant allegedly broke into a storage unit. So, he allegedly violated subsection (1), (2), and/or (3), which is a Class D Felony. The sentence for a Class D Felony is two to twelve years, depending on one’s range, and a fine of up to $5,000. Plus, there is likely to be restitution. It looks like the defendant could also be charged with a violation of subsection (4), a Class E Felony. It carries a sentence of one to six years with up to a $3000 fine. Depending on the facts, the defense may be able to talk the state down to a trespassing charge or dropping the burglary charge with a plea to theft under $1000.
Theft $1000 or less (T.C.A. § 39-14-103, -105)
A person commits theft of property if, with the intent to deprive the owner of the property, the person knowingly obtains or exercises control over the property without the owner’s effective consent. The penalty for theft depends on the value of what is taken. Theft of property or services valued at $1000 or less is a Class A Misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of 11 months, 29 days, and a maximum fine of $2,500. Misdemeanor theft often pleas to probation, but everything depends on the specific facts and circumstances of the case. If the District Attorney’s Office is dropping a felony charge, such as burglary, they may want some time served in exchange for dropping the higher charge.
Simple Possession (T.C.A. § 39-17-418)
The simple possession of an unlawful drug without a valid prescription is, with a few exceptions, a Class A misdemeanor. That means it carries an 11 month, 29 day maximum sentence and a $2500 maximum fine. Unlike most non-drug offense misdemeanors, drug offenses also carry mandatory minimum fines. See T.C.A. § 39-17-428. The simple possession of marijuana or hashish carries a $250 minimum fine for the first offense, a $500 minimum fine for the second offense, and a $1000 minimum fine for the third or subsequent offense. The simple possession of another drug carries a $750 minimum fine for the first offense, a $850 minimum fine for the second offense, and a $1000 minimum fine for the third or subsequent offense.
Like theft under $1000, simple possession often gets offers of 11/29 probation. However, you should always consult an attorney to negotiate with a DA. A lengthy criminal history or several other crimes may result in a worse offer. On the other hand, someone with a clean record and a small amount of certain drugs may be able to negotiate some good behavior probation. It is so fact specific that you need to talk with a lawyer for more information.
Vandalism (T.C.A. § 39-14-408)
A person commits vandalism when he damages or destroys property. Like theft, the level of punishment depends on the value of the damage done to the property. Interestingly, “value” is determined by the fair market value of the property at the time and place of the offense. See T.C.A. § 39-11-106(a)(36). Replacement value should only be used if fair market value cannot be established. This often comes up in both theft and vandalism cases.
For example, suppose someone damages a television that cost $1200 three years ago. At first glance, it seems like they would be guilty of vandalism over $1000. However, in the past three years, the value of the TV has most likely declined below $1000. While it’s the State’s burden to prove value, your lawyer may be able to use Ebay and other price lists to convince the district attorney that you should really be charged with vandalism under $1000.
Aggravated Assault (T.C.A. § 39-13-102)
Aggravated assault is an intentional, knowing, or reckless assault that results in serious bodily injury to another, the death of another, or involved the use or display of a deadly weapon. An aggravated assault also occurs when someone intentionally or knowingly strangles or attempts to strangle another. An assault is intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another or intentionally or knowingly causing another to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury or causing physical contact that a reasonable person would regard as extremely offensive or provocative. See T.C.A. § 39-13-101.
Most types of aggravated assault are Class C Felonies, which carry sentences of three to fifteen years, depending on range, and a fine of up to $10000. Some types of aggravated assault are Class D Felonies, which carry sentences of two to twelve years, depending on range, and a fine of up to $5000.
Aggravated assault is often difficult to plea to a lower offense. Like many district attorney’s offices, the district attorney in Cookeville often takes a hard stance against violent crime. Of course, everything is very factual. Sometimes, the victim started it or played just as big of role in the altercation as the defendant. In those cases, your attorney may be able to talk the DA into reducing the charges, or at least get you a plea with reduced time served.
Driving on Suspended (T.C.A. § 55-50-504)
Driving on a cancelled, suspended, or revoked license is a Class B Misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class A misdemeanor for second or subsequent offense. Thus, first offense driving on suspended carries a sentence of up to six months and a maximum fine of $500, and second or subsequent offense driving on suspended carries a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, and a maximum fine of $2500.
Like many misdemeanors, these can often be plead to supervised probation, and in some cases with defendants with good records, they can be plead to unsupervised probation after a period of time on supervised probation and with the payment of all fines and court costs.
Drug Paraphernalia (T.C.A. § 39-17-425)
Drug paraphernalia for use or intent to use is a Class A Misdemeanor. Drug paraphernalia to deliver or with intent to deliver or to manufacture with intent to deliver is a Class E Felony. Most drug paraphernalia cases are charged as misdemeanor paraphernalia. So, they carry sentences of up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and fines of up to $2,500 dollars. They also have minimum fines of $150 for the first conviction and $250 for second or subsequent convictions.
Normally, drug paraphernalia pleads to an 11/29 suspended sentence on supervised probation. Sometimes, you may be able to get a slightly better deal, such as waiving court costs or good behavior probation, depending on the facts of your case. As always, talk with a lawyer.
If you are unfortunate enough to be charged with the felony version of drug paraphernalia, you are looking at a potential sentence of one to six years, depending on range, and a potential fine of up to $3,000. The minimum fine is also higher: $1,000 for a first offense and $1500 for a second or subsequent offense.
Felony drug paraphernalia is often accompanied by more serious charges. If they think you’re distributing drug paraphernalia, it’s often because they think you’re distributing large amounts drugs. So normally, if you’re charged with felony drug paraphernalia, you have even more serious offenses to worry about.
Evading Arrest (T.C.A. § 39-16-603)
Evading arrest requires intentionally concealing oneself or fleeing by any means of locomotion from a law enforcement officer if the person knows the officer is attempting to arrest him or if the person has been arrested. If the person flees while operating a motor vehicle, it is a Class E Felony. If the person’s flight creates a risk of death or injury to innocent bystanders, it is a Class D Felony. If the person just runs on foot from the police, it’s a Class A Misdemeanor.
A person charged with Class D Felony evading arrest faces a two to twelve year sentence, depending on range, and up to a $5000 fine. A person charged with Class E Felony evading arrest faces a one and six year sentence, depending on range, and up to a $3000 fine. Misdemeanor evading arrest carries an 11/29 sentence with up to a $2500 fine.
Evading arrest is fact specific on what the DA will want to do with you. If you put an officer or others at risk of injury, the DA may want to nail you. Alternatively, if you’re “big boned” like me and made a sad, failed attempt at fleeing on foot, the DA and the officers may find your attempt somewhat amusing and offer you a probation plea.
As always, talk with a lawyer. It cannot be emphasized enough that every case is different. Your mileage may vary and you may be able to get a better or worse deal depending on your case, your history, the DA’s caseload, etc. Or, you may say “screw a plea deal” and want to take it to trial. However you proceed, don’t wait to speak with an attorney.