Lauderdale County Criminal Court

Lauderdale County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Lauderdale County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Lauderdale County.

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.

What is Jury Deliberation?

After both the prosecution and defense have presented their cases, the judge in the case will provide instructions to the jury about what they must decide. The jury will be dismissed to the jury room where they will deliberate about the guilt or innocence of the defendant. After reaching a unaminous decision, they return their decision to the court where it is read aloud in the courtroom. If the jury is unable to reach a unaminous decision, the jury is deadlocked, also known as a hung jury, in which a mistrial will be declared.

Lauderdale County Criminal Court

Lauderdale County Criminal Court

Can I request a Plea Agreement?

In Lauderdale County you may be able to enter into a plea agreement depending upon the severity of the charges. It is also dependant upon the prosecution willing to accept a plea agreement. You can ask your attorney to attempt to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution to avoid having a jury trial along with the potential for a more serious sentence. Approximately 9 out of 10 criminal cases usually end in a plea agreement.

I need help for my Lauderdale County criminal case

The best place to get information about your criminal case is from an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one to represent you which will assist in your case. For general information about your case the Lauderdale County court clerk is able to provide general information about your specific case (e.g. date/time hearings, mandatory appearance, what will take place and what you will be required to do). The court clerk for Lauderdale County will NOT be able to provide legal advice for your case, only an attorney can provide legal advice. The court clerk can provide legal information (like the information found on this website) about your case but cannot provide advice about what you should do in your legal manner.

Lauderdale County Arraignments

An arraignment is a court hearing. In Lauderdale County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Lauderdale 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 Lauderdale 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.

Where will Lauderdale County criminal case hearings take place?

Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Lauderdale County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Lauderdale County.

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.

Mandatory Appearances in Lauderdale County Criminal Court

At a mandatory or required court appearance in Lauderdale County, the defendant must appear before the court. In the event of a “Failure to Appear” the judge may issue a warrant for the arrest of the defendant. Note: not all criminal hearings are mandatory, in a non-mandatory hearing an attorney may appear on your behalf without you being in court.

Who is the prosecutor for Lauderdale County?

Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Lauderdale County criminal cases will either be a representative of Lauderdale County or a representative from Tennessee. After reviewing evidence it is the prosecutor’s decision whether to file charges or drop a case. Most prosecutors have the ability to negotiate plea bargains, and determine how the case will be prosecuted.

Right to an attorney

The US Constitution’s Sixth Amendment ensures the right to an attorney regardless of whether or not you can afford one. In Lauderdale County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.

If guilty, who sentences the defendant?

If the defendant is found guilty after the trial, the defendent will be sentenced. In some cases, this can occur at the same hearing the defendant is found guilty in court, in other cases a separate hearing will be required. Often the prosecution will request a particular sentence for the defendant and the judge will determine whether to enforce this sentence or impose a different sentence for the defendant.

Appealing a guilty verdict

A defendant may appeal a guilty verdict to an appellate court. This is not a request to have another trial, but a request for an appellate court to review the case and determine that it was handled in a correct legal manner. There are a number of outcomes in an appeal including an upholding of the conviction, a finding that errors were made resulting in a retrial or resentencing or possibly a complete disimissal of all charges.

Lauderdale County Criminal Court Locations

  • Lauderdale County Circuit Court

    Address: 675 Highway 51 South, PO Box 509, Ripley, TN 38063
    Phone: 731-635-0101

  • Lauderdale County Chancery Court

    Address: 100 Court Square, Ripley, TN 38063
    Phone: 731-635-1941

  • Lauderdale County General Sessions Court

    Address: 675 Highway 51, Ripley, TN 38063
    Phone: 731-635-2572

  • Lauderdale County Juvenile Court

    Address: 100 Court House, Ripley, TN 38063
    Phone: 731-635-3505

  • Gates City Court

    Address: 10085 2nd Street, PO Box 129, Gates, TN 38037
    Phone: 731-836-7501

  • Halls City Court

    Address: 208 North Church Street, Halls, TN 38040
    Phone: 731-836-9653

  • Henning City Court

    Address: 105 South Main Street, Henning, TN 38041
    Phone: 731-738-5055

  • Ripley City Court

    Address: 110 South Washington Street, Ripley, TN 38063
    Phone: 731-635-5223

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