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What to expect in Sumner County General Sessions’ Court

Legal Lens: Viewing Law Through Ingrum Expertise



Jay Ingrum at Ingrum Law


If you have been charged with a crime in Sumner County, then you will usually be given a court date at the General Sessions Court.  Having to go to court is very scary for most people, especially if you have never been before or if you do not have an attorney.  The purpose of this blog post is to make you feel more at ease when you go to court.


The first thing you should do is consider hiring an attorney experienced in going to court in Sumner County General Sessions Court.  Having an attorney will not guarantee an outcome at court, but it will give you an audience with the police officer, with the assistant district attorney assigned to your case, and with the judge that you won't get if you represent yourself.  If you could potentially go to jail, go on probation, lose your driver's license, or lose your gun rights, then you need an attorney.  Carefully research the experience and reputation any attorney that you consider hiring.  Check out their website.  Ask your family, friends, and co-workers for a personal reference.  Ask individuals that you know have connections to the court system who they would hire.


Put your court date on your calendar and don't be late for court.  If you miss your court date, then the court will issue a bench warrant for your arrest for failure to appear.  You don't want that.  Make sure that you can pass a drug screen when you go to court.  If you cannot pass a drug screen, then hire an attorney to obtain a continuance for you to give you time to be able to pass a drug screen.  The DA or the Judge may request a drug screen, and if you can pass one, then this will have a positive effect on the outcome of your case.


Dress appropriately for court.  Dress like you would for church or for an important job interview.  Show respect for the officer, the DA, and the Judge by how you dress and by how you speak in court.


Court starts with a short introductory speech by the judge.  The judge will explain your basic rights to you and will explain the process that the court will follow that day.  Then, the Judge will call the docket or the list of cases to be heard that day.  If you have hired an attorney, then your attorney will answer for you.  If you don't have an attorney, then you must stand up and answer when your name is called.


After the docket call, the Judge will start accepting guilty pleas and will hear requests for continuances.  Later in the day, the Judge will hear bench trials, preliminary hearings, motion hearings, and orders of protection.  The jail docket is later in the day as well since the public defenders have to go back into the jail to speak with their clients.


If your attorney has your case worked out, then your name will be called and you and your attorney will go to the podium to enter the plea.  If your case is not already worked out, then your attorney will go into the jury room to negotiate a settlement in your case or to determine whether or not a bench trial or preliminary hearing will be necessary in your case.


You may get in and out of court quickly or you may have to sit in court for hours.  However, if you have an attorney, then things will go a lot smoother and faster for you.  You will know what to expect and will have an ally by your side every step of the way, if you hire the right attorney.


An experienced attorney should do their very best to make sure that the charges are correct and that any punishment fits the crime.  If possible, your attorney should get your charges reduced, dismissed, retired, or taken under advisement.  Judicial diversion should be pursued for all defendants that are eligible to have their criminal records expunged.  However, an application for diversion and a certificate of eligibility must be submitted to the judge for a defendant's records to be expunged or wiped clean.  This takes time and money, and it is process that your attorney must walk you through.


A good attorney will do their very best to help you avoid jail or prison and will try to obtain the easiest probation terms possible so as to set you up for success on probation instead of failure. Your attorney should try to get all felony charges reduced to misdemeanors, and should try to protect your rights at every turn.  Protecting your driver's license and your gun rights are paramount goals whenever possible.


Now you know more of what to expect in Sumner County General Sessions Court. If you would like to take advantage of our experience here at Ingrum Law, then feel free to give us a call at 615-452-6613! Initial consultations for all criminal cases are free, so there is absolutely no reason not to give one of our experienced attorneys a call!

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