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  1. #1

    Default Failure to Evacuate a Building

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Tennessee

    Hello I recently received a misdemeanor charge for failure to evacuate a building after a fire alarm.

    The charging officer officially states on my notice verbatim,
    "Subject failed to exit building during an active fire alarm and instead chose to hide in a bedroom. The subject and the group he was with failed to open the door as officers and fire depts. attempts to gain entry for several minutes"

    I have a date to arrive and be booked.

    I am wondering how this will play out. This was at a fraternity party on University campus, with underage drinking. I am 19. A large group of people were downstairs drinking when a fire alarm went off. Some people came running downstairs yelling for everyone to get in a room and wait it out (I have no idea if someone pulled an alarm, or if the fog downstairs set it off). So i proceed into a room(I don't live there) with the room's owner assuming we were being raided. I thought that's why the fire alarm had been pulled; to warn of an incoming raid.

    The university policy is that a police officer is only allowed to search commonplace areas, and isn't allowed to enter rooms unless allowed in. So when the police knocked on the room I was in, we thought it was the correct decision(for some reason) to keep quiet and pretend nobody was in the room. They only said "UT Police, open up!", nothing more, nothing less. They did not say why we had to open the door.

    I was not in charge of the room, the person who lived in it indicated to keep quiet and calm. I followed his lead. Eventually the president of the fraternity came and told us to open the door, or they would kick down the door. We finally complied and opened the door. Now the people in our room, and some others, are stuck with scary looking misdemeanors.

    I hope this will just be dropped, but I am prepared for the worst. I am wondering if this is just so cut and dry that I just admit to the crime if they don't wave it, or if it is so hazy that it is worth getting a lawyer and arguing the case.

    I am honestly not sure what I was charged with.

    TLDR: I was following the lead of the people who lived in the house/room, I interpreted the law on if I had to answer a door to a police officer demanding entry(I know now I do), and this is my first offence with the law, criminal or otherwise. I was neither booked for underage drinking, nor will I admit to consumption of alcohol of any sort or amount.

    *****I do not want legal council; I am looking for OPINIONS, SUGGESTIONS, and any NON-PROFESSIONAL HELP from experience, or similar cases.*****

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    19,590

    Default Re: Failure to Evacuate (Misdemeanor)

    You need a lawyer. You are charged with a crime. Do you have the statute number you are charged with. It will be something like TCA 39-17.xxx

  3. #3

    Default Re: Failure to Evacuate (Misdemeanor)

    There is no such code written on my citation to court. OH.... I found it. It is a Disorderly Conduct charge.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,808

    Default Re: Failure to Evacuate (Misdemeanor)

    I would advise a lawyer.

    For starters - a criminal record can affect your job opportunities. Many apartment communities also require background checks and can deny you. And being in college - some criminal charges can actually affect your financial aid or scholarship.

    While is a low grade misdemeanor - you really want to hire a lawyer to have the charge reduced to a simple infraction. Or even better - get you into a First Time Offender program that will eliminate the record after a short period of time.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Failure to Evacuate (Misdemeanor)

    Yea, I am looking for an adjudication alternative program. Community service, etc.

    Any ways to help get lucky like that?

    Do I have to plead guilty before I get the chance of the program being offered?

    After I am booked in ~20 days and I get my court date, I will probably request time to find a lawyer.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,808

    Default Re: Failure to Evacuate (Misdemeanor)

    Do not plead guilty.

    You really need a lawyer or public defender to get you into an Adjudication program. That lawyer or PD will be the one to talk to the prosecutor.

    I'd advise looking for a lawyer NOW, not later. If you have the money, you need to hire a lawyer. If you don't, call the court and ask how to apply for a PD - you will need to prove your financials. And a PD often comes with a fee also.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Failure to Evacuate (Misdemeanor)

    OK. I will be interested in obtaining a PD. As a college student, I have no income, so I should be able to get one(unemployed).

    Will I request one at my booking, arraignment, or can I get one earlier than that?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,808

    Default Re: Failure to Evacuate (Misdemeanor)

    Call the Clerk of Court tomorrow and ask how you get a PD.

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