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Criminal Defense

Criminal Defense2021-06-04T12:13:53-05:00

Criminal Defense in Chattanooga

Everything You Need to Know About the Criminal Law Process

The day you are charged with a criminal offense may be the most distressing day of your life – but it does not have to be the most defining moment of it.

Knowing that you have an experienced attorney on your side, with a proven track record of success in the courtroom and a profound understanding of the legal processes can reduce the impact at this stressful time.

If you have been charged with a crime in the Chattanooga area, the criminal defense lawyers at Houston & Alexander, PLLC, will help bring clarity where there is confusion, confidence where there is stress, and hope where there is despondency.

The criminal investigation process

The first stage in the criminal process is an investigation into the alleged crime. The exact procedure will vary depending on whether you are suspected of committing a federal, state, or local crime.

If the police make an arrest, they must read your Miranda rights before questioning you. This includes your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney.

Then, the police have two options: take you to jail or release you with a promise to appear at a later date.

Federal crimes may be investigated by one of several different government bodies, depending on the nature of the crime. These include:

The investigating team may acquire search warrants to aid its investigation. If evidence of a crime is found, you will be arrested. Information will be provided to prosecutors, who will decide whether to move forward with a charge.

If you are charged with a felony, the prosecutor will present the evidence to a grand jury, who will vote on whether there is sufficient evidence to justify the charges.

Criminal Defense in Chattanooga

What happens after you’re charged with a crime in Chattanooga?

If you’re charged with a criminal offense in Chattanooga, you will be fingerprinted and have your photograph taken by law enforcement.

If you are indicted for a federal offense, you will either be asked to hire an attorney or be assigned a public defender if you can’t afford legal counsel.

Your criminal defense lawyer will explain the steps ahead in the criminal justice system for you, liaise with the necessary authorities, and communicate with your loved ones.

Generally, after being charged, you will go through some or all of these steps:

  • Arraignment – this is your first court appearance, at which the judge will explain the charges and your constitutional rights and may set a hearing to consider bail.
  • Bail hearing – if you are not released on a promise to appear (recognizance) you and your lawyer will need to appear at a bail hearing to request release. Future court dates may be set.
  • Preliminary hearing and second arraignment – where the judge will decide whether to move to trial.
  • Plea bargain – sometimes, if the evidence against you is overwhelming and a trial may be detrimental to your outcome, your lawyer will recommend entering into a plea bargain.
  • Trial – if there is no plea bargain, your case will proceed to trial where all the evidence will be heard and a judge or jury will decide on your guilt or innocence.
  • Release or sentencing – depending on the outcome of your trial, the judge will order your release or sentence you.
  • Appeal – if there are sufficient grounds for an appeal, your lawyer will file an appeal with the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Navigating the above steps can be challenging, especially if it is your first criminal charge. One of our experienced criminal defense lawyers will support you and direct you through the entire process.

What are the main types of criminal charges we defend?

Criminal charges are broadly broken down into the following categories:

  • Crimes against the person
  • Crimes against property (including financial crime)
  • Statutory crimes

Our lawyers represent clients charged with serious local, state and federal crimes throughout eastern Tennessee and northern Georgia.

Most commonly, here in Chattanooga, we defend people against the following charges:

Been charged with a criminal offense in Chattanooga, TN?

We represent clients in both state and federal court and can defend federal drug charges, firearm offenses, computer crimes, and white-collar crimes, amongst other federal crimes. Contact us today for a free consultation.

OUR PRACTICE AREAS

Criminal Defense

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Federal Charges

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DWI / DUI

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Drug Charges

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Personal Injury

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Car Accidents

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Motorcycle Accidents

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Nursing Home Abuse

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OUR PRACTICE AREAS

Criminal Defense

Learn More

Federal Charges

Learn More

DWI / DUI

Learn More

Drug Charges

Learn More

Personal Injury

Learn More

Nursing Home Abuse

Learn More

Motorcycle Accidents

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Car Accidents

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What’s the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?

Depending on the nature of the alleged crime, you may be charged with a felony or misdemeanor offense.

Both can result in a lifelong criminal record but there are important differences relating to the severity of the potential penalties you face.

The majority of crimes in Chattanooga are treated as misdemeanors (Class A, Class B, or Class C).

For a Class “A” misdemeanor, like marijuana possession, you face incarceration for up to 11 months and 29 days, as well as a fine of up to $2,500.

However, lower-class misdemeanors (B or C) may result in fines of up to $500 and less jail time – or even no jail time at all. Aggravated criminal trespass (Class B misdemeanor) and public intoxication (Class C misdemeanor) are good examples.

Generally speaking, the more “aggravated” the misdemeanor, the more severe your sentence. Often, the precise penalty is down to the discretion of the judge and the persuasive powers of your defense lawyer.

If you are a first-time offender charged with a non-violent crime, you have a greater chance of leniency.

Tennessee has five different classes of felonies, which cover the most serious crimes. Certain crimes are classified separately and punishable by death or life imprisonment, such as first-degree murder.

The next most serious are Class A felonies, like aggravated rape. These are punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

Even the least serious felonies (Class E), such as theft, still result in prison time of up to one to six years.

As well as a jail sentence, a felony conviction can severely limit certain constitutional rights, such as the right to vote and to own a firearm.

What is probation?

Probation is a type of sentencing option that may be available to first-time offenders accused of non-violent crimes in Tennessee.

This allows you to serve your time in the community rather than behind bars. In some cases, if you are convicted of a crime, you may still have to serve some time in jail but you may be able to see out the rest of your sentence on probation.

It provides flexibility for people convicted of crimes who are considered low-risk to the general public.

However, note that probation generally comes with strict conditions. Any probation violation is likely to be treated harshly and this could lead to jail time again.

Understand your rights when facing a criminal charge in Chattanooga

A skilled criminal defense lawyer will talk you through your rights, the legal options available, and how to avoid the most serious short-and-longer-term consequences.

At Houston & Alexander, PLLC, our lawyers have inside knowledge of the criminal justice system in Tennessee. This can put you at an immediate advantage in the courtroom.

This adds up to an enormous amount of legal experience and knowledge to place at your disposal as your case works its way through the justice system.

Been charged with a criminal offense in Chattanooga?

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in the Chattanooga area and are unsure where to turn, start by going through the details with one of our criminal lawyers during a free consultation.

You can expect us to listen and to provide trustworthy legal advice that will help to answer all the questions going through your mind. We can then start preparing a defense that works towards the best possible outcome for you and your future.

Frequently Asked Questions

After an arrest, a law enforcement officer must read you the Miranda rights to you. This allows you to remain silent and refuse to answer questions that may incriminate you. At this point, if not before, most people accused of a crime ask to speak to their lawyer. This is another legal right that you have. Remember, it is illegal for police officers to deny your request for a lawyer and, if you cannot afford a lawyer, you must be provided with access to a public defender.

Expungements of criminal records in Tennessee are quite rare but you may be eligible if:

  • Your charges were dismissed
  • A “no true bill” was returned by a grand jury
  • You were released without being charged
  • Your trial resulted in a “not guilty” verdict
  • The case was not prosecuted
  • A protection order against you was denied by the court

If you are acquitted of criminal charges or the case never made trial (it was dismissed), the details will appear on your criminal record. However, you can apply for expungement, which will permanently wipe the charges against you from your record.

TESTIMONIALS

The moment finally came when I saw Jay walk down the stairs in the court room, he flashed me a thumbs up and I knew... I knew I won. If you need a lawyer do not hesitate to call Houston & Alexander. There is no one that will represent you better anywhere in Chattanooga. I wholeheartedly give them five stars. - Antonio
I had hired another law firm and they were getting nowhere with my case. I was charged with multiple offense DUIs and other charges. I was not sure where to turn and called Houston and Alexander. Johnny Houston went the EXTRA MILE for me! The other law firm had negotiated a sentence that may have made me lose my house, my kids...everything. Johnny was not only able to get my charges reduced but also the sentence net result was I was able to keep my family together. -Colleen
We've been clients of Houston & Alexander for three years, with Bret Alexander representing us during that time. I can't speak highly enough of his integrity, professionalism, and his dedication to our legal needs. We are so grateful for his guidance and effectiveness through such a difficult time. He's an attorney you can trust and depend on to do the right thing. We are sincerely so grateful. Thank You! - Trish
I am a Desert Storm veteran and found myself in need of legal counsel. Everyone from the receptionist to the attorney himself treated me with the utmost respect and dignity. I found them to be knowledgeable and most helpful. I would recommend Houston and Alexander for all your legal needs. Thank you for all of your help. - C Pugh
I won't go into specifics because they are very embarrassing for my family. But if you have a daughter who has been criminally charged with a serious charge, Johnny Houston should be your go-to gentleman. Because of his hard work, and diligence in our case, we can once again hold our heads High and consider this a lesson learned. Thank you Johnny Houston from the bottom of our hearts! -Karen A.
My son made a couple of mistakes and was faced with having a criminal record. Mr. Houston stepped in and provided us with excellent representation. My son will NOT have a record now and is looking forward to the future. I also can't say enough about the staff at Houston & Alexander. Always responsive and informative and really went the extra mile. I cannot recommend them enough! - Alice
Due the stress of this pandemic and the loss of employment, my wife and I got into an argument and I ended up getting arrested and charged with domestic violence. I could not go home, could not have any contact with my wife and had no place to live. An elected official/friend referred me to Johnny Houston and his law firm. Due to Johnny's efforts, not only did we get into court quickly, but all charges were dismissed. We are back together now and I am getting this expunged. Thank you, Johnny! - Client
I had too much to drink one night and backed into another car. I was charged with second offense DUI and felony reckless endangerment. I was at a real low point in my life and my husband had recently passed away. Johnny was able to get the felonies dismissed and I pled guilty to a first offense. Instead of facing significant jail time and a felony, I did a few days in jail and wore an alcohol monitor. Johnny was able to humanize me with the DA and I was able to get my life back on track again. Great law firm! You would be crazy to go anywhere else. - Karen M.
I am a college student. I was involved in a wreck and was charged with DUI and leaving the scene. I thought I was ok to drive but my blood result said otherwise. A DUI conviction would have really hurt my chances of getting a good job. Johnny and Bret told me I had a difficult case and the only guarantee they gave was that they would work hard for me. They NEVER gave up on my case and ultimately persuaded the arresting officer and the DA to reduce the charge. If YOU need help on a DUI or any other case, call them! These men are not only hard working but kind. - Kate
I had hired another law firm and they were getting nowhere with my case. I was charged with multiple offense DUI and other charges. Johnny Houston went the EXTRA MILE for me! The other law firm had negotiated a sentence that may have made me lose my house, my kids...everything. Johnny was not only able to get my charges reduced but also the sentence. I kept my house and my family intact! I have turned my life around and things are great! Johnny did not forget about me once the case was over, either. I needed some additional help with my license and Johnny jumped right on it. - Colleen
Johnny and Bret took my case and treated me like a person, not a number. I was looking at a long prison sentence (10+ years). These guys stepped in, calmed me down, and told me that they were going to be there for me. When you first walk in their office, you have that at home feeling. With Mrs. Wanda, a very welcoming atmosphere. They really treat you like family here. I would recommend Mr. Houston and Mr. Alexander to anyone who needs their service. You will not go wrong with these guys. THEY KNOW THE LAW!!!! - WARDELL
We were from out of town and had no friends or family in the area. Things got out of control and the next morning we were arrested and charged with Felonies. In my opinion, we were over charged. We called Johny and he agreed to meet with us right away. Johnny was attentive and listened. Facing possible jail time and the loss of my husband,s job we were terrified. Johnny literally rescued us! He took the lead, met with the DA and the alleged victim, and really smoothed things over. Johnny was confident and appeared to get along well with the Prosecutors and Judges. We were very fortunate to find Johnny. - Tana

TESTIMONIALS

The moment finally came when I saw Jay walk down the stairs in the court room, he flashed me a thumbs up and I knew... I knew I won. If you need a lawyer do not hesitate to call Houston & Alexander. There is no one that will represent you better anywhere in Chattanooga. I wholeheartedly give them five stars. - Antonio
I had hired another law firm and they were getting nowhere with my case. I was charged with multiple offense DUIs and other charges. I was not sure where to turn and called Houston and Alexander. Johnny Houston went the EXTRA MILE for me! The other law firm had negotiated a sentence that may have made me lose my house, my kids...everything. Johnny was not only able to get my charges reduced but also the sentence net result was I was able to keep my family together. -Colleen
We've been clients of Houston & Alexander for three years, with Bret Alexander representing us during that time. I can't speak highly enough of his integrity, professionalism, and his dedication to our legal needs. We are so grateful for his guidance and effectiveness through such a difficult time. He's an attorney you can trust and depend on to do the right thing. We are sincerely so grateful. Thank You! - Trish
I am a Desert Storm veteran and found myself in need of legal counsel. Everyone from the receptionist to the attorney himself treated me with the utmost respect and dignity. I found them to be knowledgeable and most helpful. I would recommend Houston and Alexander for all your legal needs. Thank you for all of your help. - C Pugh
I won't go into specifics because they are very embarrassing for my family. But if you have a daughter who has been criminally charged with a serious charge, Johnny Houston should be your go-to gentleman. Because of his hard work, and diligence in our case, we can once again hold our heads High and consider this a lesson learned. Thank you Johnny Houston from the bottom of our hearts! -Karen A.
My son made a couple of mistakes and was faced with having a criminal record. Mr. Houston stepped in and provided us with excellent representation. My son will NOT have a record now and is looking forward to the future. I also can't say enough about the staff at Houston & Alexander. Always responsive and informative and really went the extra mile. I cannot recommend them enough! - Alice
Due the stress of this pandemic and the loss of employment, my wife and I got into an argument and I ended up getting arrested and charged with domestic violence. I could not go home, could not have any contact with my wife and had no place to live. An elected official/friend referred me to Johnny Houston and his law firm. Due to Johnny's efforts, not only did we get into court quickly, but all charges were dismissed. We are back together now and I am getting this expunged. Thank you, Johnny! - Client
I had too much to drink one night and backed into another car. I was charged with second offense DUI and felony reckless endangerment. I was at a real low point in my life and my husband had recently passed away. Johnny was able to get the felonies dismissed and I pled guilty to a first offense. Instead of facing significant jail time and a felony, I did a few days in jail and wore an alcohol monitor. Johnny was able to humanize me with the DA and I was able to get my life back on track again. Great law firm! You would be crazy to go anywhere else. - Karen M.
I am a college student. I was involved in a wreck and was charged with DUI and leaving the scene. I thought I was ok to drive but my blood result said otherwise. A DUI conviction would have really hurt my chances of getting a good job. Johnny and Bret told me I had a difficult case and the only guarantee they gave was that they would work hard for me. They NEVER gave up on my case and ultimately persuaded the arresting officer and the DA to reduce the charge. If YOU need help on a DUI or any other case, call them! These men are not only hard working but kind. - Kate
I had hired another law firm and they were getting nowhere with my case. I was charged with multiple offense DUI and other charges. Johnny Houston went the EXTRA MILE for me! The other law firm had negotiated a sentence that may have made me lose my house, my kids...everything. Johnny was not only able to get my charges reduced but also the sentence. I kept my house and my family intact! I have turned my life around and things are great! Johnny did not forget about me once the case was over, either. I needed some additional help with my license and Johnny jumped right on it. - Colleen
Johnny and Bret took my case and treated me like a person, not a number. I was looking at a long prison sentence (10+ years). These guys stepped in, calmed me down, and told me that they were going to be there for me. When you first walk in their office, you have that at home feeling. With Mrs. Wanda, a very welcoming atmosphere. They really treat you like family here. I would recommend Mr. Houston and Mr. Alexander to anyone who needs their service. You will not go wrong with these guys. THEY KNOW THE LAW!!!! - WARDELL
We were from out of town and had no friends or family in the area. Things got out of control and the next morning we were arrested and charged with Felonies. In my opinion, we were over charged. We called Johny and he agreed to meet with us right away. Johnny was attentive and listened. Facing possible jail time and the loss of my husband,s job we were terrified. Johnny literally rescued us! He took the lead, met with the DA and the alleged victim, and really smoothed things over. Johnny was confident and appeared to get along well with the Prosecutors and Judges. We were very fortunate to find Johnny. - Tana

View our reviews online.

View our reviews online.

ATTORNEY PROFILES

ATTORNEY PROFILES

JOHNNY D. HOUSTON

BRET ALEXANDER

AMANDA BRANAM DUNN

JAY UNDERWOOD

CONSULT WITH OUR LEGAL TEAM

Please contact us online for a free consultation.

CONSULT OUR LEGAL TEAM

Please contact us online for a free consultation.
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