Experienced Nashville Defense Firm

Your First Court Appearance in Tennessee

If you have been arrested in Tennessee, your first court appearance will be before a magistrate. In Nashville,TN, all the magistrates are appointed by the General Sessions judges and are lawyers. In many counties, the magistrate is selected by the county commission and are not lawyers. The magistrate must make a finding that probable cause exists to issue an arrest warrant. If probable cause exists, the magistrate will sign the arrest warrant and set a bail bond amount

One is entitled to a bail bond in all criminal cases except a charge that carries the death penalty, a parole violation, and a probation violation. The purpose of the bail bond is to ensure that you come back to court to answer the charges. The magistrate looks at the crime that you have been charged, your prior criminal record, prior failure to appear in court and your ties to the community.

If the bond is set in an excessive amount, your attorney can file a motion asking that the bail bond be lowered.

Here is the key point. The Tennessee Rules of Procedure requires that one " Shall be taken without unnecessary delay before the nearest appropriate magistrate....". In most Middle Tennessee counties that is not a problem. However, I have seen people sit in jail over the weekend until they go before a magistrate. Marion County comes to mind. You should tell your criminal defense lawyer if there was a time delay.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.