DeKalb County Criminal Court

DeKalb County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in DeKalb County. See below for more information about criminal cases in DeKalb County.

DeKalb County Criminal Court locations

Criminal proceedings take place in the DeKalb County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.

Who can help me in DeKalb County?

For general information about your case the DeKalb County court clerk will be able to provide legal information about your specific criminal case. Legal information is not legal advice though, the court clerk will only be able to provide information about your case, like date/time of hearings what will occur at the hearing and what you may be required to do in the hearing. They cannot provide advice about what you should do or what the best legal options may be for your particular case. Only an attorney can provide legal advice and this is your best place for information about your specific criminal proceeding. If you cannot afford to hire a private attorney to represent you, a judge will appoint an attorney to represent you, this is most often a public defender.

DeKalb County Criminal Court

DeKalb County Criminal Court

Appealing a Criminal Conviciton

A defendant may appeal a criminal conviction to an appellate court. In an appeal, the actual trial is not redone, but the appellate court hears arguments that the criminal case was not handled in a legal manner at the original criminal court. The appellate court can either uphold the conviction, or determine that errors were made and may request a retrial, a resentencing of the defendant or that the charges be dismissed.

DeKalb County Arraignments

An arraignment is a court hearing. In DeKalb County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in DeKalb County Criminal Court and the judge will read the charges that were filed against the defendant. The judge will also read the rights the defendant has and ask the defendant if they understand both the charges filed against them and their rights as a defendant in the case. In DeKalb County a plea of Guilty, Not Guilty or No Contest may be entered. In a guilty or no contest plea the sentencing of the defendant may take place at the same arraignment hearing or a later date may be scheduled for sentencing. For a not guilty plea, a date will be set for a trial.

Burden of Proof

The burden of proof is always on the prosecution in a criminal trial. In other words, the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. The defense must only prove that there is a reasonable possibility that the defendant did NOT commit the crime. If the prosecution cannot prove that the defendant committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury will be instructed to find the defendant not-guilty.

Right to Jury Trial

For “Serious Crimes”, those that can have a potential penalty of 6 months in jail OR a minimum $500 penalty, the US Constitution guarantees a right to trial by jury. This is guaranteed by Article III of the Constitution and the 6th Amendment. The accused has the ability to waive their right to trial by jury.

Prosecutor in DeKalb County

In DeKalb County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing DeKalb County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent Tennessee. For the most part, the prosecutor in DeKalb County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.

Jury Deliberations in DeKalb County

In DeKalb County, jury deliberations will take place in a jury trial after the prosecution and defense have presented their cases and rested. At this point, the judge will provide a list of instructions to the jury about what they are allowed and not allowed to do and what verdict options are available for them to decide. The jury will be sent to a private room to discuss the evidence presented in the case and attempt to reach a unaminous decision. When a unaminous decision is reached, the jury will inform the judge that they have reached a verdict and will return to the courtroom for the verdict to be read allowed. In the event that the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict, the jury results in a deadlock and a mistrial is declared.

Defendant Sentencing

At a sentence hearing the judge will inform the defendant of the sentence that will be imposed. This sometimes occurs at the same hearing in which the defendant is found guilty (either by trial or plea agreement). In can also occur at a later date, most often this is due to the complexity of the case where more time is needed to determine the appropriate sentence.

What if I can’t afford an attorney?

The 6th Amendment guarantees you the right to an attorney whether or not you can afford one. If you cannot afford one, a public defender will be appointed by the court to represent you.

What is a Plea Agreement?

A plea agreement is a deal made between the prosecution and the defendant in a case, where the defendant agrees to plea guilty to a particular charge in exchange for some concession from the prosecutor. In practice, more than 90% of criminal cases end with a plea agreement.

DeKalb County Required Court Appearances

In DeKalb County, there are both required and non-required court appearances for the defendant. At a required or mandatory appearance hearing, the defendant is required to appear in person before the court. Failing to appear at your required hearing may result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest by the judge.

DeKalb County Criminal Court Locations

  • Dekalb County Circuit Court

    Address: One Public Square, Suite 303, Smithville, TN 37166
    Phone: 615-597-5711

  • Dekalb County Chancery Court

    Address: One Public Square, Suite 302, Smithville, TN 37166
    Phone: 615-597-4360

  • Dekalb County General Sessions Court

    Address: One Public Square, Suite 303, Smithville, TN 37166
    Phone: 615-597-5711

  • Dekalb County Juvenile Court

    Address: One Public Square, Suite 303, Smithville, TN 37166
    Phone: 615-597-5711

  • Alexandria City Court

    Address: 102 High Street, Alexandria, TN 37012
    Phone: 615-529-2700

  • Smithville City Court

    Address: 104 East Main Street, Smithville, TN 37166
    Phone: 615-597-4745 Fax: 597-9438

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