Walker Law

MICHAEL K. WALKER, ESQ.

341 HARRISON STREET

NASHVILLE, TN 37219

(615) 485-3065 or (931) 292-2889

Nashville and Middle Tennessee Divorce and Criminal Defense Lawyer serving the Middle Tennessee area with affordable legal services. Our fees for services are very reasonable and the full amount is not due at the beginning. We are willing to work with our clients by providing a payment plan throughout the case as the fees become necessary.

 
Preparing for court in Nashville and Middle Tennessee Courts

Dress appropriately. You do not necessarily have to wear a suit, but it would be unwise to wear jeans and a t-shirt. You want to look like you are taking your case seriously. Tuck in your shirt. Do not wear any shirt with a slogan on it. Don't wear open toed shoes. Remove your hat. Respect the Court.


Make sure your cell phone is off and no talking: Few things get judges madder faster than when a cell phone goes off in court. Don’t get the judge mad at you and/or take your phone. Also, there should not be any talking between you and anyone else you bring with you to court while in session. Certain judges will make it very clear when you have gone too far and order the court officer to take your phone.


Leave your sharp things at home or in your car: You will have to go through a metal detector on your way into court. You will not be allowed to bring knives, scissors, fingernail clippers, or anything that looks like it could be used as a weapon. Think about what is on your key ring. As a general rule, if you wouldn't try to board an airplane with it don't try to bring it to court.


Don't bring food or gum into the courtroom: It is about respect. Even if there is no sign that says you can't chew gum (there is), you don't want to make the judge mad and draw attention to yourself. Also, do not drink alcohol the night before or day of court. If any court officer, judge, or staff smells the odor of alcohol on your breath they may believe you to be under the influence and you could be held in contempt.


Arrive on time: It should go without saying, but unfortunately, for some it does not. You should plan to arrive at least 30 minutes earlier than your scheduled court date time. That way, if something happens you have built yourself a cushion. You are trying to defend yourself against a serious criminal charge, and you don't want to have to explain or justify tardiness before and in addition to your DUI, assault, possession charge, etc. If you have never been to the court before then you should know that traffic in your area is unpredictable and you need take into account any delays. Find out where to park ahead of time. Plan to allow yourself extra time to get through security metal detector checkpoints and onto the elevators. Plot out the bus routes and times. Make sure you have a reliable friend or relative taking you if needed. Make sure you have gas in the car. In short, plan ahead and make sure you are not the one who walks into court late.


If possible, leave babies and children at home: Some judges will not permit babies or young children in their courtrooms. Others will, but will ask you to remove them if they are being rowdy or crying. If you are the sole adult who has brought kids to court, this could put you in an extremely awkward situation because you may be asked to step out of the courtroom and remove the child(ren). You can't just leave small kids to wander the halls of a criminal court. So make arrangements for the child(ren) if possible . If it is not possible, you should bring the child(ren) rather than just skipping the court date.


If your license is suspended, revoked, or cancelled do not drive to court: Sometimes, by the time a DUI defendant gets to his or her court date the drivers license or driving privilege has already been suspended or restricted. If this is you and you drive to court, you should be aware that; 1) you are probably committing a new crime; and 2) police officers know that irresponsible people drive to court on suspended licenses and watch court parking lots for suspended drivers; and 3) if you get caught, in addition to being charged with the crime of driving on a suspended license, your pending DUI case might also be negatively affected.


How do I address the Judge:
Always with respect! Address judges with "sir, ma'am, your honor, judge." If you stick with those you will be okay. It is common to hear a nervous person address a forceful female judge as "sir." If you think this might accidentally happen to you, stick with "judge" or "your honor." Thank you.

New Expungement Law: As of July 1, 2012 certain felony and misdemeanors can be erased

Effective July 1, 2012 Tennessee law, Tenn. Code Ann. 40-32-101, allows expungements for certain misdemeanor and felony convictions. To be eligible you can not have any convictions (plead or found guilty) to any offense other than the first and only conviction; the possible or actual sentence of jail time was not over 3 years; and 5 years have passed since the completion date all of the punishments and obligations. Punishments and obligations being fines, court costs, restitution, jail time, probation, supervised/unsupervised release, etc. Lastly, there is a $450 fee that would have to be paid to the Court as well.


If you think you meet these requirements I would be glad to make a clean record happen for you. Check out the following page for more information http://michaelwalkerattorney.com/divorcecriminallaw.html.

 Give me a call and we can go over the details to get the process started. Call 615-485-3065 to get the background check process started.

Court Ordered Parenting Class for Divorcing Parents in Middle Tennessee

The Parenting Education Seminar is a class that give parents the information necessary to deal with their children and with each other during and after the divorce process. These seminars are meant to help the divorcing family through the traumas of divorce without putting more stress on the parties and their children.

The Parenting Plan Law requires (at a minimum) that the Seminars “educate parents concerning how to protect and enhance the child’s emotional development and informing the parents regarding the legal process. The seminar shall also include a discussion of alternative dispute resolution, marriage counseling, the judicial process, and common perpetrator attitudes and conduct involving domestic violence.” Parenting Education Seminars may also cover other topics related to divorce and its effect on a family. The Parenting Plan Law requires a minimum of four hours of classroom time, but some Courts may require more time. Each individual Court decides the length of the required Parenting Education Seminar. Depending on the total amount of time required, the Seminar may be given in more than one session.

There is no set cost for the Seminar. Most of the classes are $40.00 - $50.00 each. In some judicial districts there will be a number of different seminar providers for a parent to choose from. Each of these providers will have their own fee schedule and some may offer a sliding scale based on the income of the parent.

Normally, both parents do not attend the same Seminar. In areas where there are few Seminars, one parent may be able to attend a Seminar in an adjoining county or judicial district in order to meet the requirement of attending the Seminar. The minor children do not attend the Seminar, however, there may be specific other programs available for your children about how a divorce will change their lives.

In a contested divorce, the Court must consider whether a parent attended the required seminar when determining whether there should be any limitations on parenting time or decision-making. Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-404(b)(4). The Court cannot prevent a divorce decree from issuing solely on the basis of the parents not attending the Seminar, but a parent who does not attend the Seminar within the time specified by the Court runs the risk of Contempt of Court. A parent who does not complete the required Seminar may be held in Contempt even if the divorce decree has issued. Contempt of Court may involve a jail sentence.

AVOID ARREST IN TENNESSEE, INSPECT YOUR CAR LIGHTS!

Police are pulling people over left and right for non-functioning car lights. Whether it be a headlight, taillight, or brake light you need to routinely check them to ensure that they are all in good working order and that the lenses are not broken. If the lens is cracked or broken and is emitting white light, it might as well be burned out because the police can pull you over. Many people do not perform the simple task of checking to make sure their lights are working properly. Ideally, once a month you should spend 20 seconds walking around your vehicle to inspect your vehicle's lights to make sure they are working. Ask someone to look at your brake lights when you press the brake pedal. This quick routine check can prevent you from an unnecessary and costly police stop.

If you have had a drink with dinner it is a good idea to check your lights before you leave the parking lot. Even if you have had only a sip of beer it can smell like you have been drinking all day long. The officer will detect an odor of alcohol when stopping you for your non working lights and further investigate for a DUI arrest and subsequent search of the vehicle for anything illegal. You can help yourself to avoid any interaction with a quick light inspection and keeping a few spare bulbs in the glove box.

Driving on Cancelled, Suspended, or Revoked License in Tennessee

Driving on a cancelled, suspended, or revoked license under Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-50-501 is a serious offense that can involve jail time, expensive fines, and can prolong the reinstatement of your driving privileges. Driving is the basis of most everyones livelihood and should be taken seriously. There are several avenues an attorney may take in handling this charge in court. It is highly recommended that anyone facing this charge, especially a suspension due to a DUI conviction contact an attorney before your scheduled court case.


A person who drives a motor vehicle on a public road when the person's privilege to do so is cancelled, suspended, or revoked commits a Class B misdemeanor. If a person's privilege to drive is cancelled, suspended or revoked because of a conviction for vehicular assault, vehicular homicide, or DUI they can be put in jail for at least 2 days but not more than 6 months, and there may be imposed, in addition, a fine of up to $1,000. Any convictions within 10 years prior to the immediate violation can be considered for enhancement purposes.


A second or subsequent violation of subdivision is a Class A misdemeanor. A second or subsequent conviction of driving on suspended, revoked, or cancelled license because of a conviction of vehicular assault, vehicular homicide, or DUI shall serve at least 45 days and up to 1 year in jail and may be fined up to $3,000.

A vehicle is subject to seizure and forfeiture upon the arrest or citation of a person for driving while the person's driving privileges are cancelled, suspended or revoked. A conviction for the criminal offense of driving while the person's driving privileges are cancelled, suspended or revoked is not required.

Hire a lawyer before your General Sessions booking date in Davidson county

It is extremely important to call an attorney within a couple of days of receiving a misdemeanor citation. Most people do not even realize that a citation is an arrest. Just because you are not taken to jail does not mean the charge is not serious. The jails are overcrowded and the police cannot take every single person to jail for a misdemeanor offense. If you do not have a history of failing to show up for court dates then the officer should cite and release you as long as there is no risk of the offense continuing. The citation will have a date that you are to report for booking.


Davidson county in particular has what is termed a "1 Stop Shop" docket. This means that after your booking process is completed (photographs, fingerprint, entry/updating statistical information in the database, etc.) you will have your first appearance court date immediately afterwards. It would be very wise to have an attorney with you on your first appearance court date. The attorney would attempt to have your case handled in your best interest at this time resulting in a successful dismissal of your charge(s). Hiring an attorney to handle the case from the beginning may help to keep you from burdening your schedule with future court dates, and resolve your case earlier to give you piece of mind and closure.

 

Tennessee Window Tint Law (in a nutshell)

Police Officers are pulling people over day and night for window tint violations. The common illegal tint is 20% and is apparent to most officers just by looking compared to the legal 35% light transmittance which appears much lighter. Most window tint installers will put the T.C.A. compliant sticker in the bottom corner of the driver's side window if it is compliant with Tennessee Law which is 35% or more light transmittance. Some people who have legal tint installed over the factory tint are in violation of the window tint law.


Having dark window tint is suspicious to the police and a common way for citizens to give the police probable cause to stop their vehicle. The burden is on the owner of the vehicle to show proof that the tint is in compliance with the law. Have your receipt for the legal tint installation in the glovebox and on the ready to minimize the time of interaction with the officer. If your vehicle is registered in another state please call me as soon as possible.


If you are not sure if your tint is compliant with Tennessee law, drop by the office and we will perform a free window tint test using a certified device which allows us an accurate reading of your tint within +/- 3% to give you piece of mind and let you know if your tint is legal.


The window tint law in Tennessee is covered under Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-9-107. Motor vehicle windows with tinting, reflecting or sun screen material. —
(a) (1) It is unlawful for any person to operate, upon a public highway, street or road, any motor vehicle in which any window that has a visible light transmittance
(A) of less than thirty-five percent (35%); or
(B) With the exception of the manufacturer's standard installed shade band, reduces the visible light transmittance in the windshield below seventy percent (70%).
(5) The owner of any vehicle in question has the burden of proof that the motor vehicle is in compliance with this section.
(c) It is probable cause for a full-time, salaried police officer of this state to detain a motor vehicle being operated on the public roads, streets or highways of this state when the officer has a reasonable belief that the motor vehicle is in violation of subdivision (a)(1), for the purpose of conducting a field comparison test.
(d) It is a Class C misdemeanor for the operator of a motor vehicle to refuse to submit to the field comparison test when directed to do so by a full-time, salaried police officer, or for any person to otherwise violate any provisions of this section.
(e) The commissioner of safety shall establish a standardized method and procedure by which law enforcement officers can readily, and with reasonable accuracy, conduct a field comparison test to determine if a motor vehicle's windows are in compliance with this section.

Tennessee's statutory DUI punishments

Here's what penalties you can expect to face if you are charged and convicted of DUI  

First Tennessee DUI Offense

 

Jail – 48 Hours up to 11 Months
Fine – From $350 to $1,500

License Suspension – 1 Year
Ignition Interlock Device Possible

Other Possible Penalties

Community Service Work for Three Eight Hour Shifts
Child Endangerment Penalties (If Passenger under 18)
Alcohol Safety DUI School Program

 

 

Second Tennessee DUI Offense

 

Jail – 45 Days up to 1 Year
Fine – From $600 to $3,500

License Suspension – 2 Years
Ignition Interlock Device – 6 Months (If Within 5 Years of Previous DUI )

Other Possible Penalties

Vehicle – Subject to Seizure / Forfeiture
Child Endangerment Penalties (If Passenger Under 18)
Litter Pick-Up For Three Eight-Hour Shifts
Drug and Treatment Assessment

 

Third Tennessee DUI Offense

 

Jail – 120 Days up to 1 Year
Fine – From $1,100 to $10,000

License Suspension – From 3 to 10 Years
Ignition Interlock Device

Other Possible Penalties

Vehicle – Subject to Seizure / Forfeiture
Child Endangerment Penalties (If Passenger Under 18)
Litter Pick-Up for Three Eight-Hour Shifts
Drug and Treatment Assessment
Alcohol Safety DUI School Program


New law as of January 1, 2011 
 
     A person who drives a vehicle without a functioning ignition interlock device installed on such vehicle on a public road at a time when the person was required by law to drive a vehicle equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device commits a Class B misdemeanor and shall serve time in jail for at least 7 days up to 6 months, and may be fined up to $1,000.

see T.C.A. 55-50-504 for a detailed reading of this law.

Ways to help avoid police interaction and DUI in Tennessee.

1. Don’t Drink and Drive. While it’s not illegal to drink and drive, the only sure way to avoid an arrest for DUI is not to put yourself in a position where an officer suspects you of being intoxicated. The only way to do that for sure is to avoid alcohol prior to driving. You breath can smell like you have been drinking all day long even if you have had a few sips of someone's beer or any other alcoholic beverage. Spend the money and call a cab if you have been drinking, Try calling a friend or family member, or even consider a hotel room. The bottom line is, if you are arrested for a DUI you will be in the jail wishing you had arranged a safe way home or a safe place to stay overnight. Plan ahead. Spend a little, save a lot.

2. Get off the road by 11:00 p.m at the latest. The majority of DUI arrests occur around midnight and for the main reason that people tend to leave bars around that time, especially bars and clubs closing much later. It is the third watch (11p.m. – 7 a.m.) officers that are much more aggressive in their enforcement. When you would ordinarily not be pulled over for a license plate cover that makes the plate harder to see during normal hours, after 11:00 p.m. the chances of a stop occurring drastically increase.

3. Do not drive carelessly. Simply put, if you do not give law enforcement a reason to pull you over, you do not have to worry about a drunk driving arrest. If you have been out drinking for a night and decide to drive home make sure to pay attention to posted speed limits, traffic lights, and devices. You should understand that a “concerned citizen” call can be sufficient to justify an officer to respond and pull behind you to observe your driving. You should also understand that you are not making a complete stop at a stop light or stop sign unless your body falls back in your seat immediately and after you vehicle rolls backwards ever so slightly. Also, It is important to treat others on the road with respect when you’ve had a few and are driving home. If you don’t give the police a reason to stop you, then you don’t have to worry about what to do following the stop.

4. Ensure your vehicle accessories are working properly. The smallest traffic violation or vehicle equipment/lighting violation gives law enforcement a legal basis to stop your vehicle. Ensuring that all lighting and equipment is in proper working order will greatly decrease your chances of being stopped in the first place.

5. Remove license plate frames or covers that obscure or obstruct the reading of any portion of your license plate. More frequently law enforcement officers are making a habit of stopping vehicles because the license plate frame covers or obscures a portion of the license plate. The best way to this is to remove any frames or covers that makes the license plate hard to read or obstructs any portion of any letters on the plate.

6. Don’t drive on a suspended or revoked licensed. In the State of Tennessee, law enforcement may stop a vehicle if the registered owner is suspended, canceled or otherwise revoked. Police officers will routinely run license plate numbers of vehicles in front of them or that they pass as they travel down the road. If the registered owner comes back as suspended or revoked, you just gave them reason to stop you and it can be all downhill from there.

7. Do not sleep in the driver’s seat of a vehicle that is running. Call a cab or friend. If you are going to take a nap don't take it in your car. If it is cold and you must, take it in the rear seat, make sure the vehicle is not running, and take the keys out of the ignition and temporarily get rid of them! A few extra steps can save you a few thousand dollars, increased insurance rates, loss of license, loss of job, and jail time.

8. Do not use your cell phone while driving. Studies have shown that individuals talking/texting on cell phones can be equally, if not more impaired, than individuals with an alcohol concentration of .08.  Combine cell phone use and a few beers and you are asking for trouble. Wait to make your phone calls until you make it home.

9. Do not make stops on your way home. While a late-night snack seems like a good idea after a night out, it drastically increases the odds of you spending the night in jail. More people get called in for drunk driving by fast food restaurant drive-through workers and convenience store workers than you might think. Additionally, many security officers and police officers often observe the late night drive-through from a distance for any unusual behavior.

10. Do not eat while driving. Just like talking/texting on your cell phone, eating food impairs your ability to safely operate your vehicle. The less distractions you have while driving the better off you will be.

Nashville Divorce Lawyer, Nashville Criminal Lawyer, Nashville Personal Injury Lawyer serving Davidson County-Nashville, Bedford County-Shelbyville, Cannon County-Woodbury, Cheatham County-Ashland City, Coffee County-Manchester, Dekalb County-Smithville, Dickson County-Dickson, Giles County-Pulaski, Hickman County-Centerville, Humphreys County-Waverly, Lawrence County-Lawrenceburg, Lewis County-Hohenwald, Marshall County-Lewisburg, Maury County-Columbia, Montgomery County-Clarksville, Robertson County-Springfield, Rutherford County-Murfreesboro, Stewart County-Dover, Sumner County-Gallatin, Warren County-McMinnville, Williamson County-Franklin, and Wilson County-Lebanon.