According to the heat hypothesis, the number of assaults goes up when daily high temperatures are consistently in the low 90s. When the temperature gets hotter, this effect fades, because most people just stay home. A few studies also claim there’s a link between global warming and violent behavior, but these conclusions are a bit tenuous.
The heat hypothesis is particularly well-known in law enforcement circles. So, as we enter our first normal summer in what seems like forever, many peace officers will be keeping a tight lid on summertime gatherings. Passionate arguments could easily turn violent in these situations, especially if alcohol is involved.
These gatherings might look different in the summer of 2021 than they have previously. Officials have rescinded most coronavirus restrictions, such as masking and social distancing requirements. However, individual hosts and business-owners are usually still free to impose these limitations. Furthermore, after almost a year of being isolated indoors, many people aren’t used to being around others. They could easily misinterpret your comments and/or actions to “mask-up” as infringing on freedom rights. Freedom to enjoy their summer and be carefree once again!
Being accused of a crime is usually the low point of a person’s life, and Montgomery County’s criminal justice system is particularly complex. Most people feel like that feather at the end of Forrest Gump. They float from one place to another without any idea of where they are going, until suddenly, everything ends abruptly and badly in handcuffs.
At Fizer Bonding Company, our Clarksville, TN bail bond agents do more than get defendants out of jail quickly. We also give our clients general information about the criminal justice process, so they have a better idea of what to expect.
Lingering Coronavirus Restrictions
People have very strong feelings about COVID-19 restrictions. Some are convinced that anything less than a radical lockdown is a reckless disregard for the public’s health. Others are equally convinced that these restrictions are nothing but political statements. Both sides are equally right, which is why even though officials have eliminated most mandatory restrictions, these implied restrictions will probably be with us for quite some time.
School rules are a good example. Clarksville-Montgomery County schools ended the mask requirement effective June 1, 2021. But graduation, which occurred after that date, was still a socially distanced affair with a facemask requirement. The upcoming school year is equally fluid. Local officials have been gearing up for another year of hybrid live/online learning. But for better or worse, the Tennessee State Board of Education pulled the plug on this plan.
So, when you go out this summer, it’s probably a good idea to keep a facemask in your pocket. As of July 1, 2021, local businesses are about 70-30 on the facemask requirement. Most don’t require them, but a significant number still do. That’s especially true if you are travelling. Almost all airports, train stations, ridesharing vehicles, and other common carriers require everyone to wear a mask, even if they are fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination is a topic for another time, but may prove to be complex and heated.
Even more importantly, try not to get upset over these requirements and innocent requests for social distancing. It might feel good, in the moment, to vent your feelings about this issue. But if someone calls the police, the incident could end very badly. The opposite is also true. If you feel a business’ COVID-19 restrictions are too lax, express your concerns calmly and in private.
Public DIsputes and Criminal Arrests
Tennessee has a rather broad disorderly conduct law. Specifically, it is a Class C misdemeanor offense to:
- Engage in “threatening behavior” or
- Create “a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act that serves no legitimate purpose.”
It’s also illegal to ignore an official order to disperse if people are too close to a fire or other dangerous situation. But we aren’t really concerned with these kinds of disorderly conduct charges in this blog, unless the dangerous situation cited is gathering and being too close to one another. It’s also illegal to make an “unreasonable noise that prevents others from carrying on lawful activities.” To be honest, we don’t know what this provision means, and this could require some more investigation…but not during this conversation.
We’ve all seen videos of people who throw public fits (the Karen meme) over coronavirus restrictions. Typically, if the police come, they give the suspect a “time out” in the back of a squad car. After a few minutes, the person calms down and often apologizes to the owners of a business or others before leaving the vicinity.
However, a Class C misdemeanor is an arrestable offense. So, these defendants might need a Montgomery County bail bonds agent with Fizer Bonding Company. Furthermore, officers could also search the defendant. If they find any drugs or other contraband, additional charges are almost certainly forthcoming.
Resolving These Charges
Class C misdemeanors are fine-only offenses. That’s basically the same level as a traffic ticket. Therefore, municipal courts, as opposed to county courts, normally handle disorderly conduct charges. Prosecutors can upgrade these charges to a Class B misdemeanor in some cases.
Most judges assess small fines, such as $50, just to close the file. Sometimes, it’s best to pay this fine and be done with it. The criminal conviction technically appears on your record. But as mentioned, a Class C is basically like a traffic ticket.
Alternatively, most prosecutors offer pretrial diversion programs. Generally, if the defendant picks up trash for a few hours or performs other community service, prosecutors dismiss the case.
If the verbal dispute becomes a physical altercation, things get a lot more serious. Generally, assault is a Class A misdemeanor. Injury is not an element of a misdemeanor assault claim. Instead, prosecutors must only prove that the defendant touched the alleged victim in an offensive or harmful way, and the touch was intentional (i.e. not accidental).
Domestic assault incidents almost always go to court. But most law enforcement agencies don’t have mandatory arrest policies in other assault cases. So, if officers respond to a disturbance, there’s a good chance they might employ the aforementioned “time out” in the back of a squad car approach.
Largely for political reasons, prosecutors hardly ever offer pretrial diversion in domestic assault cases. But bar fights and other non-domestic assaults are different. These cases do not have the same political implications. Furthermore, there’s less chance of escalation. If Mike hits his wife once, there’s a good chance he will do it again. But if Mike gets in a fight with a random stranger, there’s little chance lightning will strike twice in the same place.
Prosecutors also offer pretrial diversion in many cases because assault prosecutions have a lot of moving parts. Normally, the state must subpoena the alleged victim. People may move and in most cases, they do not leave forwarding addresses.
Since assault is a lot more serious than disorderly conduct, it’s usually important to secure a dismissal in these cases. The stay on your criminal record is much worse. Furthermore, assault is a crime of moral turpitude. A conviction could affect student aid eligibility and other areas of your life in the future.
For more information about the criminal justice process, contact the bail bonds agents near you at Fizer Bonding Company. Fizer Bonding Company is a proud member of the Tennessee Association of Professional Bail Agents. For more info about Fizer Bonding Company bail bonds, click here.
“We’ll get your tail outta jail!”
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