Recently, Nashville Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk initiated a change in how to handle weapons charges in General Sessions Court. All weapons charges are to move through the system to Criminal Court, rather than potentially settling in General Sessions. This new policy is in response to the increase in crimes involving firearms. Part of the new directive is mandatory jail time. No plea bargains will be offered in firearm cases without some jail time. If you wish to avoid jail time, your only options are to either go to trial or plead guilty and have a sentencing hearing.
I can certainly understand the concern. Firearms are a rampant problem not only in Nashville but across the country. However, are the courts the best place to stop gun violence?
First, one should examine Tennessee's sentencing laws. Under Tennessee Code Annotated § 40-35-103, a person should only be confined if;
- Confinement is necessary to protect society by restraining a defendant who has a long history of criminal conduct;
- Confinement is necessary to avoid depreciating the seriousness of the offense or confinement is particularly suited to provide an effective deterrence to others likely to commit similar offenses; or
- Measures less restrictive than confinement have frequently or recently been applied unsuccessfully to the defendant.
Asking for jail time on every gun case seems contrary to our sentencing laws. Yet, even misdemeanor weapon charges are being sent to Criminal Court. Here is a short list of cases this policy covers. Of course, serious cases like aggravated robbery and murder will always carry jail time.
- Aggravated assault with the display of a firearm;
- Possession of a weapon under the influence of an intoxicant;
- Felons in possession of a weapon;
- Possession of a weapon.
If you've been charged or you have any questions directly related to this new gun policy, contact our office to schedule an appointment.