If you have been arrested for domestic assault in Franklin, Tennessee or Brentwood, Tennessee you will be required to serve 12 hours in jail as a mandatory hold before you can post bond. Under Tennessee law, this is done in order to protect the victim; however, it can be waived in certain circumstances. The magistrate will give you a court date to appear for arraignment in General Session Court. The arraignment is the first step in the criminal court process, where you are advised of the charges against you, advised of your right to an attorney and given your trial date. Your attorney can waive your appearance at the arraignment docket so that you do not have to appear in court until your trial date, which is typically about 6 weeks later.
The alleged victim or victims in the case will be served with a subpoena to also appear in court on your trial date. Unlike what is shown on television, the victim cannot simply walk into court and ask that the "charges be dropped." Even if the arrest stems from an argument with your spouse or significant other that just got out of hand, the victim does not have the ability to just drop the charges. In Williamson County, Tennessee, each victim will speak to the Assistant District Attorney who is assigned to prosecuting domestic assaults. The prosecutor will also speak to the arresting officer(s). After the victim speaks to the prosecutor, the prosecutor will then speak to your attorney to attempt to settle your case. The offer from the prosecutor to settle your case will largely depend on the circumstances of the assault and your prior criminal history, but the offers can include the following, which are listed in order of severity:
- Guilty plea to Domestic Assault, a Class A Misdemeanor, maximum punishment of 11 months 29 days in jail and a maximum fine of $225. This is a very serious conviction and results in a prohibition of owning or possessing firearms, including hunting rifles.
- Conditional Guilty Plea under TCA 40-35-313, referred to as Judicial Diversion, which places the defendant on probation but includes no jail time. This applies to defendants who do not have any prior convictions on their record. Under judicial diversion, the domestic assault can be expunged from your record after successful completion of probation and any other conditions of probation. In Williamson County, you must pass a drug screen in order to be eligible for diversion.
- Retirement, which is basically putting your case off for a period of time to determine if any other violent behavior will occur. A retirement always comes with conditions such as drug or alcohol counseling, batterer's intervention program, monetary contribution to Bridges Shelter of Williamson County, and any other conditions that the Assistant District Attorney may feel is necessary given the circumstances of your case. If completed successfully, the case is dismissed after the retirement period and does not go on your record.
- Dismissal or Nolle of your case. In Williamson County, this is rare and only happens if both parties have been arrested for domestic assault or the charges are completely unfounded.
You also have the option of having a preliminary hearing to determine if there is probable cause or having a bench trial in front of the judge; however, you should not attempt either of these without the representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
If you have any more questions about a domestic violence or domestic assault charge in Franklin, Tennessee or Brentwood, Tennessee, please feel free to contact us for a complimentary case review.