Federal Bar Association badge
TACDL badge
Tennessee Bar Association badge
AILA badge
Lawyers Association for Women badge
Nashville Bar Association badge
American Innsofcourt badge

Middle Tennessee Criminal Defense, Family & Divorce, and Immigration Attorneys

Criminal Defense

If you are reading this, you are probably stressed about pending charges against yourself or someone you love. Criminal charges can impact your freedom, your livelihood, and your home life, you need a Nashville criminal lawyer who understands that. The Cassell Firm has defended those charged with everything from murder and drug trafficking offenses to theft and vandalism. We have also defended numerous clients in alcohol and drug-related DUI cases. With attorney's who have spent significant time working in a District Attorney's Offices and as a Criminal Court Clerks before joining the defense bar, we have experience with all sides of the criminal justice system. Whether you are charged with the most serious felony or need representation in an Order of Protection hearing, we will do everything in our power to obtain the best results for you, your future, and your family's future.

DUI

A first conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) in the state of Tennessee is a misdemeanor. But did you know that it carries mandatory jail time and the potential to lose your license, even on the first offense? You may also be on the hook for fines, restitution, court costs, and fees associated with "ignition interlock" devices and classes. All of these potential penalties grow in number and severity the more DUI's of which you are convicted. Needless to say, when you are looking at such steep penalties, you are going to need a strong defense.

Law enforcement may bring a charge of DUI if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or higher. To establish this, members of law enforcement may conduct "Standard Field Sobriety Tests," use a breathalyzer machine, or withdraw, and perform a test on, your blood. However, all of these methods require strict compliance with methods and procedures to be admissible against you. Further, there are a number of legal requirements the police have to comply with before they can even pull you over. You need someone who understands all of these issues, how they interact, and how to use them in your defense.

Drugs Crimes

Being charged with a crime involving drugs can be confusing in the State of Tennessee. Depending on (1) what the alleged controlled substance is, (2) how much of the controlled substance there is, and (3) what you are being accused of doing with that controlled substance; the charge and range of punishment can vary wildly from a maximum of six (6) months in jail, all the way up to 30 years in prison. On top of all of this, these charges may be impacted by the location of the alleged incident.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 7 of the Tennessee Constitution guarantee you certain rights that law enforcement absolutely cannot ignore. Generally, members of law enforcement need your permission before they may lawfully search you or your property. If you do not give your permission, then members law enforcement must meet certain standards before they are allowed to search you or your property. Many of the defenses available to you when you are accused of a drug crime rest on how well your Nashville criminal attorney understands your rights, and how strong he or she will be in asserting those rights.

Assault

When charged with "Assault", sometimes called "Simple Assault," in the State of Tennessee, it is important to know what type of assault of which you are being accused. This will greatly impact your defense. There are three basic types: 1) Bodily Injury; 2) Reasonable Fear of Imminent Bodily Injury; and, 3) Extremely Offensive or Provocative Physical Contact. Generally, all three of these types, are Misdemeanors.

However, if a number of other factors are present, such as the use of a "deadly weapon" or "strangulation" of the victim, then law enforcement may charge "Aggravated Assault." Aggravated Assault may be as high as a C Felony which carries potential prison time of three (3) to six (6) years for Standard Offenders. Common defenses in these types of cases include self-defense or the defense of another. You will need an attorney who will listen to your side of the story, and be able to communicate that effectively on your behalf.

Domestic Violence and Orders of Protection

The difference between Domestic Assault and Assault is the victim and the punishment. Generally speaking, a the alleged victim in a Domestic Assault case will have a familial, romantic (either past or present), or cohabitation relationship. If that sort of relationship is present and an assault occurs, typically Domestic Assault, is charged. Much like DUI's, Domestic Assault penalties grow in severity the more of which you are convicted. So, the first conviction may be treated similarly to an Assault with classes or probation, but if the second and third convictions are for "bodily injury"-type, they will require mandatory jail time of 30 and 90 days, respectively. The third, and any subsequent Domestic Assault convictions, will also be raised to Class E Felonies. Other commonly charged offenses in a domestic violence cases are Vandalism, Harassment, and Stalking.

Along with these criminal charges, an Order of Protection may be in play against the accused. An Order of Protection is, in short, a Court Order that one person cannot contact another person. Such an Order may be granted, under certain circumstances, "ex parte." This means the accused may not even have been present to explain their side of things when the Order was granted. In that case, a hearing will be set within 30 days, typically accompanying any other criminal charges.

With so many different possibilities on the table in a Domestic Violence case, you need a Nashville criminal lawyer who understands every aspect of these cases. Someone with the experience to navigate these hurdles and protect your record so that your side of the story is heard.

Family and Divorce

Domestic disputes and legal issues involving spouses, children, and other family members can be the most devastating times in a person's life. Whether you are considering divorce, have been denied visitation with your child by his/her other parent, have become involved in a child support or paternity dispute, are concerned about the welfare of children in your family, or are having trouble communicating or cooperating with an ex-spouse you are probably wondering if there will ever be any resolution to your problem. Family law issues can be painful.

We understand that your family is important to you and each case is unique and deserving of the same attention and care that we would give to our own families. When you are dealing with sensitive and personal family matters you will want an attorney that will be aggressive when needed, look out for your interests, and keep the preservation and future of your family in mind.

Divorce

Many people have no idea what to expect when they decide to get divorced. Divorce may seem like a simple parting of ways, but in reality, it involves so much more than just two people separating. Sometimes divorces are amicable, and the spouses involved can agree on how to divide assets, debts, bank accounts, and other property. Other times, especially when children are involved, what seems like a simple separation can quickly devolve into a devastating process that leaves both sides emotionally and financially drained and unhappy.

If you are considering divorce or have decided to part ways with your spouse you will soon be faced with discussions on alimony, child custody and visitation schedules, who gets assets like homes and vehicles, and the division of the personal property you and your spouse have bought together. You will need an attorney to consider all of these things for you and guide you through one of the most difficult times in your life. Our office can provide you with the support you need to ensure that you have the best outcome possible after divorce.

Child Custody and Visitation

Disputes over child custody and visitation impact both married and unmarried parents. For married parents who are divorcing, custody and visitation will be decided as part of the divorce process. For unmarried parents, however, the process can be less straightforward if one parent is denying the other access to the child or refusing to cooperate with attempts to co-parent. Unmarried fathers in particular may have trouble figuring out what rights they have as a parent. Regardless of the relationship between a child's parents, both parents have the same right to participation in a child's life.

A court will always look to the best interests of a child to determine who has decision making power over the child and what amount of time a child spends with each parent. It is important to remember that in child custody disputes the most important thing is the child's relationship with each of their parents. Some parents lose sight of this and it is then that you will need an attorney to defend your rights as a father or mother and your child's right to have a stable loving relationship with both parents.

There are times that even after a parenting agreement has been reached things change. Sometimes one parent wishes to move with the child or believes that their circumstances have changed so much that they should have more time with the child and modify the prior visitation agreement or court order. Modifying a parenting schedule is a difficult process that can have a major impact on your relationship with your child and should not be taken lightly.

Disputes over custody and visitation can become very hostile very quickly. Emotions often run high clouding a parent's ability to see the issues in each case objectively. For some parents, these disputes can be emotionally draining and feel hopeless. They may feel like the dispute is an insurmountable challenge they can't handle. An attorney will be able to help you navigate an emotionally difficult situation and ensure that your rights as a parent are honored while protecting the well-being of your children.

Child Support

Making sure their children are provided for can be a challenge for many parents. For some parents, a relationship has ended, and they are struggling to raise and provide for a child alone. For others, they are doing their best to make sure they financially contribute to raising a child; they just don't know how. Whether you are wondering about child support because you are getting a divorce or because you and a former boyfriend or girlfriend ended a relationship, child support will be a requirement in caring for your child.

In a divorce or custody dispute the court will order one party to pay child support. Child support is an amount of money paid to the parent who has the primary responsibility for minor children to provide for expenses like education, food, and other costs associated with raising a child.

Child support conflicts can have a massive impact on your finances and your children. Whether you need help financially caring for your children or you are no longer able to pay the amount a court has set, our office can help you resolve child support issues, allowing you to have peace of mind and security.

Post-Divorce

It is not uncommon for ex spouses to have trouble getting along long after a divorce. Your former spouse might be failing to abide by the terms of a court order or an agreement they signed. Your ex-wife or husband may have met someone new, gotten married, and now they want to move or change the visitation schedule you have with your children. Maybe you were only supposed to pay alimony until your former spouse started living with someone new and you've found out they are moving in with a new partner.

Even if both former spouses are cooperating with one another things like financial hardship, remarriage, relocation, or your children aging mean that you need a plan that fits and protects your family better than your current agreement. Regardless of how good or bad your relationship with your former spouse may be, changes in child support and custody or having to go to court to force a former spouse to comply with a court order can be an emotionally difficult and legally complex process. We can help you deal with these challenges and come to a resolution that improves the lives of you and your family.

Immigration Law

Immigration is one of the most diverse areas of law. You may have come to the United States without status decades ago, built a good life and family, and now wonder if there is a way for you to legally reside here. Maybe you fell in love with someone from another country and are ready to have them come live with you. You might have recently become a citizen and would like to help your family in your home country achieve that same dream. You may be talented and wish to find a way to share that talent and work here in the United States. In other cases, you may be trying to escape danger or tragedy where you were born and all you need is a safe place to land. No matter your background or circumstances, you need an experienced immigration attorney to help you through the immigration process.

Immigration laws in the United States are difficult to navigate. Our system is in a constant state of change and can be a tough area of the law to understand. The application processes involved in immigrating are confusing, expensive, time consuming, and intimidating. If you find yourself in immigration court proceedings, the process can be overwhelming and disheartening. With the changes being made to immigration laws and the difficulty non-citizens currently face, figuring out the right path forward will be tough whether you have no legal status, are in deportation proceedings in immigration court, or are on your way to becoming a citizen.

Even the smallest mistakes or missed technicalities can be costly in the immigration process. You will need a dedicated attorney who cares about you and your family to ensure that your case is processed efficiently, affordably, and properly. We can assist clients from all over the world with family-based petitions, humanitarian-based applications, waivers, and deportation proceedings. No matter how simple or complex your case may seem, we will guide you through the process and make sure your case is treated with the care and consideration you and your family deserve.

Visas and Family-Based Immigration

There are many reasons and ways to come to the United States; and a different visa available for each one. You can get a visa for a temporary visit, to work, to study, because you have married a U.S. citizen, because you are engaged to someone living in the United States, because you are extraordinarily talented, or because you have family members living in the United States.

Each visa has its own requirements, timelines, process, and authorized lengths of stay in the United States. Some visas are for permanent immigration while others (non-immigrant visas) are only for a short period of time or a specific reason. A few examples of the visas available include:

  • Tourist Visas-for temporary visits or travel
  • Student Visas-for those who want to attend school or an exchange program in the United States
  • Extraordinary Talent Visas-for artists, musicians, athletes, and others at the top of their field
  • Family-based visa petitions-for certain relatives of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents (green card holders).
  • Fiancé Visas

Our office has helped people from all over the world with a variety of visa applications and petitions. Assistance with the simplest applications to the most complicated is available.

Humanitarian Visas and Asylum

It is not always a happy circumstance like a marriage or new job that enables a person to come to or stay in the United States. For some, and maybe for you, it is tragedy, a crime, danger, or unsafe conditions in a home country that lead them to seek safety here in the United States. If you have been a victim of a crime in the United States, you may be eligible for a visa that will allow you to become a legal resident.

For those already in the United States who have been the victims of crime or human trafficking, there may be a way to turn hardship into something positive. Our office has years of experience assisting victims of the most serious crimes gain legal status through the U and T visa avenues.

For those who have fled their homes to find safety, Asylum may be a possibility. If you have been persecuted in your home country because of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or social group, our office can help determine if you are eligible for asylum. Our immigration attorney has helped people apply for asylum both in defensive cases in immigration court and with affirmative cases upon arrival in the United States.

EOIR Processes/Removal Proceedings

If you are not a citizen of the United States and you've been arrested, had an application filed with USCIS denied, overstayed a visa, or entered the country illegally you might end up in ICE custody or front of an immigration judge. More than likely, you've been sent or given a piece of paper from ICE or another government organization with a date and time you are supposed to show up in court. There is more information on that piece of paper, but you probably don't understand what any of it means. You might be confused or scared. When you or a family member are under threat of deportation or removal in immigration court these feelings are common and reasonable. In fact, being scared is good; it means you are taking the situation seriously. Immigration court is a serious place to be.

The immigration court system is where citizens of other countries are placed in removal proceedings and deported from the United States. You can be placed in removal even if you are legally in the U.S. Being in immigration court is one of the most distressing and uncertain situations for individuals and families. It can be difficult to understand what is happening and how you should move forward. It can also be hard to know exactly what relief from removal you can pursue. Our office can assist with a variety cases in immigration court.

Unfortunately, no one has the right to have an attorney provided for them when they are placed in removal or deportation proceedings. Navigating removal or deportation proceedings in immigration court without an attorney is an impossible challenge. Even if you have lost your case, you should check to see if you can file an appeal. If you or a family member have been placed in immigration court, call our office for a consultation so that we can assist you.

Naturalization

You've had a green card for five, ten, twenty years, or maybe even longer and you ask yourself if it's time to finally become a citizen. The answer to this question is always yes. If what you want is to stay in the United States permanently without any possibility of ever being forced to leave, becoming a citizen is the only way to achieve that goal. Naturalization is just another word to describe how a person becomes a United States citizen. Citizenship gives a person access to many benefits and responsibilities afforded only to citizens and, once a person has naturalized, protection from the application of immigration laws. Once you become a citizen, you are no longer in danger of being deported or removed from the country. There are three main ways to be considered a citizen of the United States: (1) birth in the United States; (2) being born overseas to one or more United States citizen parents; or (3) the formal naturalization process.

Gaining citizenship is the final step of the immigration process. There are exceptions to many of the rules determining who is eligible to become a citizen and many pitfalls you will need help to avoid. While complex, it is the most rewarding part of the immigration process and the part of a client's case most looked forward to by immigration attorneys. However simple or complex your case may be, we look forward to helping you navigate this final stage of your journey.

Meet the Team
J. Caleb Cassell - Meet the Team
J. Caleb Cassell

J. Caleb Cassell is licensed to practice law in the State of Tennessee, has been admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee. He is a member of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and serves as an Attorney Mentor in the Belmont University College of Law American Inns of Court.

Jane Ellen Cassell - Meet the Team
Jane Ellen Cassell

Jane Ellen Cassell is licensed in the state of Tennessee. She has also been admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee, and the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR). She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Belmont University American Inns of Court, the American Bar Association, and Lawyer's Association for Women: Marion Griffin Chapter.

Contact Us
  1. 1 Free Consultation
  2. 2 Know Your Rights
  3. 3 Tell Us About Your Case

Fill out the contact form or call us at (615) 475-7041 to schedule your free consultation.