Criminal Citations in Tennessee

How am I charged with a crime if I was not arrested?

For misdemeanor criminal offenses in Tennessee, law enforcement may choose to issue a citation instead of making an arrest. So long as the person does not have any active warrants or prior failure to appear charges, the officer may choose to issue a citation and not make an arrest. For felony offenses, although rare, the State may use a criminal summons.

Does not being arrested mean the charge is not that serious?

Being charged with a criminal offense means you could potentially go to jail. It’s serious. Class A misdemeanors are punishable up to 11 months, 29 days in jail, B misdemeanors, up to six months in jail and C misdemeanors up to 30 days in jail. Here are a few examples of very common charges which result in citations, but not necessarily an arrest:

–          Simple Possession of Marijuana (Class A Misdemeanor)

–          Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (Class A Misdemeanor)

–          Reckless Driving (Class B Misdemeanor)

–          Patronizing Prostitution (Without Enhancement – Class B Misdemeanor)

What do I need to do after I receive a criminal citation in Tennessee?

  1. Talk with a criminal defense attorney immediately. Do not wait until the court date nears to call a criminal defense attorney. Call as soon as you can. Depending on the Tennessee County and the charge, there may be other things that need to be done that would be helpful in resolving your case. It is also possible the first court date is simply an appearance date which can be waived by hiring an attorney. If you are traveling from someone far from Tennessee, it very well could be cheaper to hire an attorney to save you a trip, than to travel to court.
  2. Ask your lawyer questions and Educate yourself. This also serves as a way of ensuring you are hiring the right attorney when the attorney can answer your questions in a manner that you understand.
  3. Get a lawyer. Choosing to represent yourself is never a wise decision, particularly when you are unfamiliar with the law, the process and procedures. If you cannot afford an attorney, you can fill out an application to apply for an appointed attorney and if you are eligible, the court will appoint one. We have conversations with people all the time who chose to represent themselves and as a result have put themselves in a much worse position – often later realizing their decision cost them a job or other opportunity. The cost of losing out on opportunities can greatly exceed the cost of hiring an attorney for your case.

Our Tennessee criminal defense lawyers are available to discuss your case and will be glad to answer your questions. Call us now at 615-829-8259. 

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