What You Must Know About Tennessee Assault Laws Before Talking to Police

What You Must Know About Tennessee Assault Laws Before Talking to Police

Hey there! If you’ve been accused of assault in Tennessee, it’s totally normal to feel anxious or overwhelmed. Dealing with the legal system is scary and confusing. But knowledge is power, so I wanted to give you a quick rundown on Tennessee assault laws and what to do if the police want to talk to you.

First up, assault is defined in Tennessee Code 39-13-101 as intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person. There’s also aggravated assault, which involves seriously injuring someone or using a deadly weapon.

The penalties for assault depend on whether it’s charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Misdemeanor assault can land you in jail for up to 11 months and 29 days. Felony assault carries 1-6 years in prison. Aggravated assault is always a felony.

Don’t Panic – Take a Breath

It’s totally normal to feel anxious if the police call or show up asking about an assault. But try to stay calm and don’t say anything rash. Take a few deep breaths to collect yourself before responding. The police are just doing their job investigating the incident.

You Don’t Have to Talk

Even if the police say they “just need to ask you a few questions,” you are not required to answer. Politely decline to speak with them and say you won’t answer questions without a lawyer present. This is your constitutional right under the 5th Amendment.

Ask if You’re Free to Leave

If the police start questioning you, ask “Am I free to leave?” If yes, politely walk away. If they say no, you are being detained and shouldn’t answer any questions. Let them know you wish to remain silent until you can speak to a lawyer.

Don’t Resist Arrest

If the police move to arrest you, do not physically resist. Simply repeat that you won’t answer questions without a lawyer. Comply with orders to stand up, put your hands behind your back, etc. Resisting arrest will only lead to additional charges.

Don’t Make Excuses or Speculate

It’s natural to want to defend yourself if accused of something you didn’t do. But anything you say can potentially be used against you, so it’s best to simply invoke your right to remain silent. Don’t make excuses, admit to anything, or speculate about what happened. Wait to tell your side of the story to your lawyer.

Ask for a Lawyer Immediately

As soon as you’re detained or arrested, ask to speak with a lawyer. Repeat this request until you’re allowed to make a phone call. Do not say anything else to police until you’ve consulted with counsel. A lawyer can help protect your rights and build the strongest defense.

Beware of “Just Clearing Things Up”

Police may try to downplay questioning and say they just want to “clear up” some details. But anything you say can be used as evidence, so stand firm on your right to remain silent until your lawyer is present.

Don’t Consent to Searches

If police ask to search you, your car or home, politely decline and say you do not consent to any searches. However, if they have a warrant, you must comply. A lawyer can later challenge whether the search was legal.

Record Interactions If Possible

If you have the ability to discretely record audio or video of your police encounter, do so. This creates an objective record of what was said and done. Just be sure to let officers know they are being recorded.

Get Witness Contact Info

If there were any witnesses to your police encounter or arrest, try to get their names and contact information. Their accounts could help your defense if they saw the incident differently than police.

Seek Medical Care If Needed

If you suffered any injuries during your arrest or interaction with police, get medical attention right away and have your injuries documented. Photos of injuries can also help your case.

Don’t Discuss the Incident with Anyone

Other than your lawyer, do not talk about your case with anyone – not even close friends or family. Something you say casually could find its way back to the prosecution. Decline to discuss it until your case is resolved.

Reach Out for Support

Being arrested or accused of a crime is scary and isolating. Lean on trusted friends and family for emotional support during this difficult time. Seek counseling or therapy if you are struggling with anxiety, depression or trauma.

Start Preparing Your Defense

Begin gathering relevant documents, making a timeline of events, locating potential witnesses, and anything else that could help in your defense. An early start gives your lawyer a head start mounting the strongest case possible.

Dealing with assault charges in Tennessee is no picnic. The legal system can be confusing and intimidating. But by understanding your rights and smartly invoking them, you put yourself in the best position possible. Keep your head up – this will pass in time. And with the right legal strategy, the outcome may be better than you fear. You got this!

So in summary:

  • Don’t talk to police without a lawyer
  • Politely decline to answer questions
  • Don’t resist arrest
  • Don’t consent to searches
  • Get medical attention if needed
  • Lean on your support system
  • Start preparing your legal defense

Take care of yourself during this difficult time. And know that with the right legal advice, you can get through this. Wishing you all the best!