Criminal Defense


When you are facing criminal charges or under investigation or being questioned concerning criminal charges, it is absolutely critical that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Without experienced guidance, you may risk losing rights and defenses. Even before your arrest, law enforcement officials will be building a case against you. From statements you make, to where you spend your time, to your social connections, your motivations and actions will be under scrutiny. Let R. Deno Cole guide you in advance on how to protect yourself, mitigate or prevent charges, and reduce any penalties associated with an offense.

One of the first questions we will ask our clients who are facing criminal charges will be whether the charge is being brought by Federal or State court. The differences between federal and state crimes can be complicated. Many different laws overlap in the criminal arena, and doubts and questions are created as to what criminal court should prosecute the crime. If the crime happens in one state, it is typically a state crime, unless it is an expressly named as a federal crime. But if a crime occurs throughout multiple states, or crosses state lines, or occurs on or to federal property it often becomes a federal crime. State crimes are typically all conduct that violates state laws, such as murder, traffic violations, DUI and other areas where conduct is completely encompassed within the state of Tennessee. Federal crimes are specifically enumerated federal offenses, such as IRS violations, allegations of drug trafficking and possession, mail fraud, kidnapping, counterfeiting, damaging or destroying mailboxes, and immigration offenses.

When a crime committed seems that it could be charged as either state crime or a federal crime, the US Constitution’s “Supremacy Clause” states that federal law will trump state law and the federal authorities will take the case over. This happens more often than not especially if the suspect(s) are of great interest and focus to federal law enforcement.

It is imperative when choosing an attorney to represent you in a criminal matter, that you choose a professional that has experience in all areas of criminal representations. A professional that understands the fundamental aspects of both State and Federal laws and one that has experience in both State and Federal courts.

Important differences between State and Federal Courts:

Crimes that are punishable under State law can include the following:

  • DUI

    If you are arrested and charged with drunk driving, driving after drinking, or otherwise driving under the influence of a chemical substance (DUI/DWI), the consequences can be severe; you may lose your driver’s license, pay heavy fines, have your vehicle impounded and even receive a jail sentence. DUI/DWI convictions may remain on your permanent criminal record and as a result, may interfere with your livelihood, causing you to lose your job or hinder future employment opportunities. With such high stakes, it is crucial that you contact a qualified DUI/DWI defense attorney, as soon as you are arrested for driving while intoxicated.

    Our law firm understands the anxiety and fear one feels after being arrested for drunk driving, and we will diligently represent you to ensure the best possible resolution for your case. We have a thorough understanding of sobriety tests and law enforcement protocol which can be part of an effective and comprehensive defense against the DUI/DWI charges you face. During our initial consultation with you, we will determine if there was police error, field sobriety test errors or inaccuracies, failure to follow proper protocol or administrative errors which may prove your innocence or lead to the dismissal of charges by the prosecution.

    DUI/DWI cases are complex and the laws which govern them vary dramatically depending upon the state or municipality in which the charges are filed. Our attorneys are well versed in all local and state-wide DUI/DWI regulations and have experience interacting with police departments, prosecutors and the department of motor vehicles. If you’ve been arrested for DWI, or DUI, contact our law firm today to speak with R. Deno Cole who will fight on your behalf to minimize the impact of your arrest.

  • Vehicular Homicide

    What is Vehicular Manslaughter?

    Defined simply, a person is guilty of vehicular manslaughter when he or she causes the death of another person through the negligent or reckless operation of a motor vehicle. “Reckless or negligent” operation can encompass a wide range of behaviors, including:

    Drunk driving


    Sudden turns

    Crucially, intent is irrelevant in a vehicular manslaughter case. Prosecutors do not have to prove that a defendant intended to kill the victim with his vehicle; in fact, vehicular manslaughter cases usually take as given the idea that the defendant did not have such intent. It is enough for the state to prove that a defendant caused the death of another person through reckless or negligent operation of a vehicle.

    How Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Help

    Vehicular manslaughter cases are complicated because they involve auto accidents, which are highly technical and require specialized experience to understand. Fortunately, we possess that specialized, technical experience.

    We will investigate your accident using every available resource, which often means hiring accident reconstruction specialists to virtually re-create a wreck. We will use this investigation as part of an effort to raise reasonable doubt about the idea that you caused the victim’s death through negligence or recklessness.

    We are also skilled plea negotiators. If we believe a plea bargain is in your best interests, we will pursue such a possibility with skill and determination. We will not let the legal system bully you into cutting a deal that is wrong for you.

  • Murder & Homicide

    Taking another person’s life is one of the most serious crimes one can commit, which is why prosecutors often seek the harshest penalties for offenders. That’s why it’s extremely important that you have the proper defense team to help you fight these kinds of charges. The right criminal defense lawyer can in some cases be the difference between maintaining your freedom and spending the rest of your life in behind bars. Even though murder is a serious charge, there are several factors that play a role in these cases and the right criminal defense attorney who knows how to argue these important factors could make all the difference.

    While every homicide case involves the death of another person(s) every case is also unique. Your criminal defense attorney should understand how to map out a solid strategy and build a strong defense plan from the beginning of the process. The right strategy could help lower the charges and in turn could lead to lighter sentencing, and in some cases even dismissal. The difference could simply come down to your attorney and the defense strategy that is used.

    Murder In The First Degree: When a person takes someone else’s life he or she can be charged and/or convicted of first degree murder, second degree murder, manslaughter or negligent homicide. The difference is sentencing can be huge, so it’s important to fight for the least serious charge. If someone is convicted of first degree murder he or she is facing the toughest possible penalties, which is essentially life in prison without much chance of ever getting parole. First degree murder usually consists of preplanned murder, killing a police officer or another public official or hiring someone to kill someone for you.

    Murder In The Second Degree: Meantime, second degree murder usually refers to someone that causes the death of someone else due to reckless or irrational behavior. In these cases, the person’s death was not planned or intended, but due to the ensuing circumstances the victim ended up dead. Second degree murder is often associated with a robbery gone wrong, for example, or a fight that got out of hand and someone was unintentionally killed. The minimum sentence for second degree murder is 15 years.

    Voluntary Manslaughter: Manslaughter carries much lighter prison sentences than murder convictions, with the minimum sentence being 8 1/3 years behind bars. Voluntary manslaughter consists of crimes that occur in an unusual manner or crimes of passion. When someone is overcome by difficult situations and not in a sound mental state because of stress, emotional problems or even because of drugs or alcohol, they might only face a voluntary manslaughter charge.

    Involuntary Manslaughter And Criminally Negligent Homicide: Involuntary manslaughter is different from voluntary manslaughter but it is not as common. This usually applies to vehicular accidents that lead to someone’s death. When a parent is charged with the negligent death of a child that is usually a case of involuntary manslaughter. The minimum jail time could be less than a year in jail.

    If you are facing any of these kinds of charges or the possibility of being charged with murder or manslaughter, then get help now. Don’t wait. Call us today at 865-281-8400 extension 2, to set up a free, no obligation consultation with R. Deno Cole.

  • Domestic Violence

    In Tennessee and many other states, when a spouse, relative, boyfriend, girlfriend or family friend is accused of domestic violence — someone is going to jail, no questions asked.

    Were you falsely accused of stalking, harassment, intimidation, terroristic threats or any other form of domestic abuse, including spousal abuse and child abuse?

    Time is running out, if your interests are to be defended. You could be facing a jail or prison term, substantial fines, ruin for your reputation and damage to rights you took for granted.

  • Assault

    If you’ve been charged with assault or battery, you’re undoubtedly concerned about your upcoming trial, possible conviction and future livelihood. In the days ahead, it is absolutely critical that you consult with a criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the complex legal system and create a strong defense strategy on your behalf.

    Whether the charge brought against you is due to a misunderstanding, exaggeration or you were simply protecting yourself from the original aggressor, your attorney will make certain these facts are brought to light. An attorney will strive to ensure that you are afforded a fair and just trial. If you are convicted of misdemeanor or felony assault or battery, your attorney will advocate for a fair sentence as well as any rehabilitative resources you may need.
    What is the difference between Assault and Battery

    An assault occurs when one person places another person in fear or apprehension of imminent bodily injury. This can take place in the form of menacing threats, throwing a punch (but not actually hitting the intended target) or brandishing a weapon. Battery occurs when a person actually causes bodily injury to another person through the use of force, violence or a deadly weapon.

    There are two classifications of battery: simple and aggravated. Simple battery occurs when an individual causes bodily injury to another person without the use of a deadly weapon or negligently injures another person with a deadly weapon. This crime is usually classified as a misdemeanor and carries a maximum jail sentence of less than one year.

    Aggravated battery, on the other hand, is often categorized as a felony and carries a much more severe potential penalty. This type crime either involves the use of a deadly weapon to injure another person or occurs under a set of facts revealing the defendant’s alleged extreme indifference to the value of human life, resulting in bodily injury to another person.

    The law recognizes several defenses to the crime of assault and battery “self defense” and “defense of others” and it is important to discuss the facts of your case with a qualified and experienced attorney who understands these defenses thoroughly. There are other potential defenses that the State of Tennessee might allow and it is imperative to have council that in well versed in all areas of criminal law in order to present the best defense possible on your behalf.

  • Sex Crimes & Prostitution

    Sex offenses often carry some of the most severe and potentially damaging penalties of any crime; life or long term imprisonment, offender registation, damaging reputation…ect.. These cases are often based on accusations and all to often there are no available witnesses other than the alleged victim and the defendant. When presented with charges for a sex offense, whether it is inappropriate touching, sexual battery or rape, contact a creiminal defense attorney immediately. You need someone that can help you understand the procedural aspects of a sex offense case as well as the legal ramifications of a guilty plea versus a not-guilty plea and subsequent trial.

    When it comes to sex crimes, there are highly specific factors that differentiate one offense from another. These may include: the age of the victim, use of force or weapon and the relationship between the parties. Some common sex crimes are described below:

    Many sexual offenses are illegal in Tennessee, including:

    Tennessee Code Title 39: Criminal Offenses, Chapter 13: Offenses Against the Person, Part 5: Sexual Offenses

    Rape- Sexual penetration (vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse or intrusion of any body part or object into the genitals of any person involved, emission isn’t required) of a victim using force or coercion (threats of violence, kidnapping, etc), without the victim’s consent (and knows without consent), defendant knows the victim is mentally or physically incapacitated, or is accomplished by fraud.

    Aggravated Rape – Sexual penetration of a victim using force, coercion, a weapon, causing physical injury, or while aided by another person and using force or coercion, or knowing the victim is mentally or physically incapacitated.

    Statutory Rape – Three types all involving sexual penetration of a victim by the defendant. Mitigated Statutory Rape – A 15-17 years old victim and a defendant at least 4-5 years older. Statutory Rape – A 13 or 14 years old victim and a defendant 4-10 years older or a 15-17 year old victim and defendant 5-10 years older. Aggravated Statutory Rape – Sexual penetration of a victim 13-17 years old and the defendant is 10 years older than the victim. Statutory Rape by an Authority Figure – Victim is 13-17 years old and defendant is at least 4 years old and the defendant had a position of trust, supervision, or discipline by legal, professional, or occupational status, or had parental or custodial authority over the child and used their status to have sex with the child.

    Rape of a Child – Sexual penetration of a victim by a defendant or defendant by the victim if the victim is 4-12 years old.

    Aggravated Rape of a Child – sexual penetration between a defendant and victim 3 years old or younger.

    Sexual Battery – Sexual contact (intentional touching of any party’s intimate parts or clothing covering them, if touching for sexual arousal or gratification) with a victim by a defendant by force, coercion, or without the victim’s consent (and knows without consent), defendant knows the victim is mentally or physically incapacitated, or is accomplished by fraud.

    Aggravated Sexual Battery – Sexual contact accompanied by force or coercion, a weapon, causing physical injury to the victim, being assisted by one or more people (if force coercion, or defendant knows victim is mentally or physically incapacitated), or the victim is under 13 years old.

    Sexual Battery by an Authority Figure – Sexual contact with a victim who was 13-17 years old or mentally or physically incapacitated and the defendant was in the same position of trust described above for statutory rape by an authority figure, and used his or her power to have sexual contact with the victim.

    Prostitution – engaging in or offering, sexual activity as a business, working at a brothel or house of prostitution, or loitering in public places to be hired for sexual activity

    Aggravated Prostitution – The penalty for prostitution while knowing you are infected with HIV is increased due to the perceived maliciousness of potentially spreading HIV to clients (also called an “aggravating circumstance”).

    Patronizing Prostitution – Soliciting or hiring another person to engage in sexual activity or going to a brothel or house of prostitution sexual activity

    Promoting Prostitution – when a person does any of the following:

    Owns, manages, or supervises a prostitution business
    Finding a person to work at a brothel or house of prostitution
    Encouraging a person to become a prostitute
    Soliciting a person to patronize a prostitute
    Finding a prostitute for a person
    Soliciting or receiving any benefit for any of the above activities

    Defenses to Sex Crimes

    By working with a criminal defense attorney, you can introduce certain defenses to sex crimes to either lessen your culpability or avoid prosecution all together. The defense of consent is often invoked and requires a showing that, with regard to the particular sex act in question, the alleged victim actually consented to the sexual interaction. If the prosecution is alleging certain aggravating factors to enhance your potential penalties, you may be able to introduce evidence to rebut the presence of these factors, which could result in a successful guilty plea to lesser crime.

    If you are facing a sex crime, you could potentially endure serious, life-changing consequences. To protect your rights and ensure your continued freedom, you need a compassionate, confidential and aggressive advocate in your corner to combat the prosecutor’s allegations and help protect you from incarceration, penalties and mandatory registration as a sex offender.

    White Collar Crime
    Campus Crime
    Criminal Appeals & Post Conviction
    Expungement of Criminal Record

  • Drug Charges

    Drug Charges

    Drug charges can range from simple misdemeanors to multi-jurisdictional federal felonies. Regardless of the charge, you need a competent and dedicated criminal defense attorney to help you obtain the most favorable outcome. Depending upon the nature of your drug crime, your attorney may also advocate on your behalf for the imposition of an alternative sentencing structure wherein you are able to obtain rehabilitation for an underlying substance abuse problem. By working with R. Deno Cole through the drug defense process, you are taking the guesswork out of the prosecution’s next move and are gaining greater control over the outcome of your case.

    Drug Possession Cases

    Drug possession crimes generally fall into two categories: possession for personal use and possession with intent to distribute. The former likely carries a lower penalty and the distinction between the two crimes is often a source of contention between prosecutors and drug defense attorneys. The criminal code contains guidelines for determining whether the accused had the intent to distribute the drugs in his possession or was merely transporting the contraband for personal use. Factors considered include:

    Quantity of drugs in the defendant’s possession;

    Location of drugs when found (e.g., pocket or container);

    Presence of baggies or a scale;

    Observance of hand-to-hand transactions with others;

    Presence of large amounts of money in the defendant’s possession.

    Drug Cultivation or Manufacture

    If you are facing charges relating to the cultivation of marijuana or the manufacture of illegal drugs, you should have a criminal defense attorney aggressively representing you because of the severity of the potential consequences. Law enforcement often circumvents the bounds of constitutional criminal procedure when engaging in the surveillance of alleged manufacture or grow operations. For this reason, there is a possibility you could have these charges dismissed altogether if your attorney can successfully argue for the suppression of drugs seized as a result of unlawful surveillance.

    Drug Sales or Trafficking

    Drug trafficking activity often crosses state or national lines and could result in the involvement of federal authorities in your drug crimes case. If you are facing both state and federal drug trafficking allegations, your attorney may begin by arguing that only one prosecution is necessary. R. Deno Cole will also represent your rights to a reasonable bond as judges overseeing drug trafficking cases routinely post bonds in excess of $100,000.00

    If you are caught engaging in drug sales, you could face serious felony penalties depending on the amount and type of drugs sold. There are also sentencing enhancements for drug sales within a certain distance of a playground, school or daycare. Regardless of the nature or extenuating circumstances of your drug sales charge, your lawyer will advocate for a reduction or dismissal of charges – particularly if this is your first offense or you are engaged in the sale of small quantities of drugs.

    Call us today for Help with Your Drug Crimes Case

    Even if you are facing a misdemeanor penalty, you are best-advised to work with a knowledgeable defense attorney throughout your case. The prosecution loves to see a self-represented opponent and will not arrange for special treatment for any pro se drug defendant. Contact us to protect your rights and criminal record.

  • Computer Crimes

    Crimes that are punishable under federal law can include the following:

    Drug trafficking
    Violations of securities laws
    Violations of interstate commerce
    Tax Fraud

    As your lawyer, I will prepare the strongest, most comprehensive defense possible. I will