One of the most difficult things about going to court for the first time is not knowing what to expect. Below you will find some basic court information that should be helpful in answering many of your questions. Other questions you may have can be answered by a member of the District Attorneys staff when you come to Court.
If you are a victim of a crime, a lawyer from the District Attorney's Office will help you (you do not need to hire a private attorney). The State of Tennessee has provided lawyers responsible for the prosecution of those who violate the criminal laws of this state. If you were a victim of a violent crime, a Victim Witness Coordinator will also be in touch with you prior to your court date to answer questions and provide support through this system.
Appropriate Attire for Court
The Judges are now enforcing a dress code. All individuals entering the courtroom shall be dressed appropriately, clean, and neat. Dress that is disturbing and distracting in court is inappropriate. This is a court of law and the clothes and appearance must be safe and not disruptive to the judicial process.
...Skirts, skorts, and shorts must reach and extend below the fingertips.
...All pants must be worn at the waist; no sagging or low riding pants
...Undershirts and tank tops, if worn, must be worn with another "cover up" shirt. Shoulders, backs, chests, and midriffs must be covered.
...All shirts, with the exception of sweaters, sweatshirts, or vests must be tucked into pants, skirts, or shorts, including athletic jerseys.
...Appropriate footwear must be worn at all times. No flip-flops or house shoes.
...Inapporpriate head coverings such as bandanas, scarves, sweatbands, caps, do-rags, or hairnets are not to be worn or seen. Hoods of lightweight garments or sweatshirts may not be pulled over the head.
...Clothing that advertises substances (drugs, alcohol, tobacco products) or language or writing that is otherwise inappropriate or offensive (sex, profanity, racial, or ethnic slurs, gang related attire, etc) may not be worn. Tattoos that display drugs, sex, alcohol, or tobacco products must not be seen at anytime.
...Clothing that is intentionally torn in inappropriate places is not allowed.
...For security reasons, chains, spiked accessories, and oversized jewelry are not permissable.
If you are dressed inappropriately, a Judge may not allow you in the courtroom.
There are three main divisions of the Criminal Justice System:
This is when the defendant finds out what crime he has been charged with by the Grand Jury.Your appearance is not necessary.
Sometimes the District Attorney or the defense attorney needs to have the Judge decide a particular point of law or procedure.If you are needed, you will be notified.
Cases are set in Court to give the District Attorney and defense attorney a chance to talk about the case and see if the defendant wants to plead guilty.Most defendants plead guilty to some crime.This is called plea agreement.
·If the defendant does not agree to a settlement, there will be a trial.
·Your feelings about plea agreement are important.Please let us know what you think.
·Cases are usually settled or set for trial within 6 to 12 months of your General Sessions court date.
·The District Attorney and the Victim Witness Coordinator will talk with you about the trial process and when you need to come to court.
·Most trials begin at the first of the week and can last for several days.
·There are 4 possible outcomes of the trial: Guilty, Not Guilty, Hung Jury or Mistrial.
A trial that for some reason does not get a verdict.The case may go to trial again or be settled with a plea agreement.
Office of the District Attorney General
Washington Square, Suite 500
222 2nd Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37201 - 1649
Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. M - F
Phone (615) 862-5500 | Fax (615) 862-5599