Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nashville Criminal Defense Lawyers

The following information summarizes the typical steps which occur in the Tennessee Criminal Justice System from the time the defendant is arrested through trial in criminal court. These procedures vary from county to county and some of these steps are combined in various ways depending on the particular jurisdiction.  Regardless, if you are charged with a crime in Tennessee, contact one of our Nashville Criminal Defense Attorney’s at Barnette Law Offices, LLC or 615-585-2245


Your Rights In Any Criminal Case

Regardless of which county the case is in, any defendant has certain rights. You have the right to have a lawyer represent you. This is the time to contact one of our Nashville Criminal Defense Attorney’s at Barnette Law Offices, LLC . You have the right, in most cases, to have a preliminary hearing to determine the issue of probable cause as further described in step 3 below. You have the right to have a grand jury consider your case as described in step 4, and ultimately you have the right to a jury trial as described in step 6.

If you do proceed to trial, you will need an experienced Tennessee and Nashville Criminal Defense Lawyer to represent you.  We at Barnette Law Offices, LLC have such experience as Nashville Criminal Defense Lawyers although we practice throughout the state of Tennessee.

You further have the right to remain silent, to be presumed not guilty, to plead not guilty and to persist in that plea.

You have the right to require the State to prove your guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. You also have the right to confront each and every witness against you in court. This means your lawyer, whether our Nashville Criminal Defense Lawyers at Barnette Law Offices, LLC , or another law firm has the right to cross-examine each witness. You have the right to subpoena witnesses to come to court and testify on your behalf. Should you be convicted, you have the right to appeal the conviction to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, and if you are unable to afford an attorney, you also have the right to have an appointed lawyer represent you at that stage of the proceedings.

The steps from arrest to trial are:


To be lawful, a police officer must have probable cause to believe that a crime is being, or has been, committed. If the arrest is for a misdemeanor offense, the crime must normally have been committed in the officer's presence.

Tn Criminal


In some Tennessee counties, an Arraignment occurs before the first hearing date.  This procedure is also called an Initial Appearance. The proceeding is performed to ensure that a bond has been set, that the defendant is aware of the charges which have been made, and that a court date is scheduled. A formal plea of "guilty" or "not guilty" cannot be requested at this stage. It is important that a defendant hire a qualified Nashville or Tennessee Criminal Defense Attorney prior to his or her arraignment date.



This court has jurisdiction to address both civil and criminal cases. In some counties, there is a court which handles only DUI cases. Criminal cases are resolved in this court by either a preliminary hearing, trial without a jury, or plea agreement. However, sessions courts do not have jurisdiction to conduct trials or accept plea agreements in felony cases. A preliminary hearing requires the state to demonstrate that there is probable cause to believe the defendant committed the offense for which he or she is charged. Probable cause generally means "probably guilty" or "more likely than not."


Comprised of 13 people who meet in secret to again determine if probable cause exists. They meet with the prosecutor's witnesses only, not with the defendant or his or her lawyer.


The formal charge against the defendant, the Indictment, is signed by the Grand Jury and must allege each element of the crime.


The highest trial court in Tennessee. In Criminal Court, a defendant is presumed innocent and has the right to require the State prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before a jury of 12 people from the community. All defendants also have the right to confront their accuser, to compel the appearance of witnesses, and to remain silent if they choose not to testify. Defendants have the right to an attorney and it is highly advantageous to get the best money can buy such as the skilled Nashville Criminal Defense Lawyers at Barnette Law Offices, LLC.

TN Criminal Courthouse

Prior to trial, defense counsel will have the opportunity to file motions - written documents requesting that the Court take certain action such as exclude evidence or require the State to disclose information. Should a person be convicted at trial, he or she has the right to appeal the conviction, the sentence, or both. If the defendant cannot afford to pay counsel for the appeal, one may be appointed to represent you.

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