Will you go to jail on a first offense domestic violence charge in Tennessee? In most cases, there is no jail time imposed on a first offense domestic violence charge, but it may depend on the county where the charges are filed. Every jurisdiction handles domestic violence cases slightly differently.
In Nashville, jail time is usually not on the table in first-time domestic violence cases. The same goes for most Middle Tennessee counties. Williamson, Dickson, Cheatham, Robertson, Sumner, Wilson, and Rutherford Counties do not offer jail time in plea bargain discussions.
Here is the typical plea bargain offer in a Tennessee domestic violence case:
- A suspended jail sentence
- 26-week domestic violence classes
- If alcohol is involved, maybe some alcohol or drug counseling - often referred to as dual diagnosis
- Payment of court costs
Tennessee's sentencing laws are codified in T.C.A. 40-35-103. Here are the considerations for imposing a jail sentence:
40-35-103. Sentencing considerations.
To implement the purposes of this chapter, the following principles apply:
(1) Sentences involving confinement should be based on the following considerations:
(A) Confinement is necessary to protect society by restraining a defendant who has a long history of criminal conduct;
(B) 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
(C) Measures less restrictive than confinement have frequently or recently been applied unsuccessfully to the defendant.
I do not know the local practice in counties in East Tennessee or West Tennessee, but a first offense domestic violence charge should not have a jail sentence.