Criminal Law

University of Tennessee students and other college students may become involved in the criminal law process or administrative suspension procedures, both of which can lead to extremely serious consequences for a student’s future. A conviction for even relatively minor violations such as underage drinking or alcohol possession, public intoxication, or a variety of similar charges may put an end to financial aid, and, in some cases, spell the end of a college education or of any chance of employment in certain professions.

Upon request, Tennessee attorney Mark C. Hartsoe assists selected parties in their efforts to avoid the dire consequences of criminal convictions or suspension or expulsion from college. As an experienced litigator and a parent, he works to ensure that young people learn from youthful mistakes without having their lives potentially destroyed by a minor infraction. The Hartsoe Law Firm has offices in Knoxville as well as Blount County.

If you are facing university suspension proceedings, you have the right to retain an attorney who can ensure that your rights will be protected during those proceedings and that your side will be fully heard. In addition, if you have been arrested or charged with violations of certain ordinances or state laws, there are some possible resolutions of those charges that may protect you from the worst consequences of criminal convictions.

For example, Tennessee Annotated Code Section 40-35-313 addresses “judicial diversion.” Judicial diversion allows certain first-time offenders to plead to a variety of offenses and still (given the approval of the District Attorney’s office) have the conviction later “expunged”—i.e. erased from the public records. In determining whether to grant judicial diversion, a judge will have to consider both the interests of the public and the interests and background of the individual accused.

If judicial diversion is granted, the judge suspends the sentence imposed, and the defendant is placed on probation. The defendant would then have to comply with all the conditions imposed in order to successfully complete that probation. After completing probation, the person would have to pay all the required costs, fines, and fees, and submit the paperwork necessary for expungement. (Expungement is not automatic.)

Another option under Tennessee law is pre-trial diversion, which may be granted by the prosecutor (rather than the judge) in some cases. The beneficiary of pre-trial diversion would also have to comply with certain conditions for a specific amount of time, but would not have to enter a guilty plea. The records of cases resolved through pre-trial diversion may also be subsequently expunged.

In Tennessee, the expungement of records is also available in several other circumstances, including cases in which a person was arrested but not charged, cases where the charges were dismissed, or cases in which the defendant was found not guilty.

If you have been arrested or charged with a criminal law violation, or are facing university, college or school suspension proceedings in East Tennessee, please contact the Hartsoe Law Firm right away. Call (865) 524-5657, email hartsoe@knoxvilleinjury.com, or fill out and submit our online “Contact Us” form.

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