Shelby County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Shelby County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Shelby County.
The Right to Counsel
The Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.s. Constitution give defendants in criminal cases the right to counsel/attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed to represent you. Like other rights a defendant has, this one can be waived as well and alternatively you can choose to represent yourself.
Prosecutor in Shelby County
In Shelby County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing Shelby County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent Tennessee. For the most part, the prosecutor in Shelby County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.
What is the Burden of Proof?
The term “Burden of Proof” means that the prosecutor is required to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor cannot provide proof of the defendants guilt, then the judge or jury in a trial must find the defendant not guilty. In the United States the principle innocent until proven guilty derives from this that the defendant is assumed innocent and the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.
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.
Shelby County Criminal Court locations
Criminal proceedings take place in the Shelby County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.
I need help for my Shelby 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 Shelby 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 Shelby 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.
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.
Arraignments in Shelby County
During an arraignment in Shelby County, a defendant appears before the court and the judge reads the charges that have been filed against the accused and also informs the defendant of his/her rights. During the arraignment in Shelby County, the defendant can choose to plead one of the following 1) Guilty 2) Not Guilty or 3) No Contest. If the defendant enters a plea of Not Guilty, a date for trial is set. In the event of a Guilty or No Contest Plea in Shelby County the defendant may be sentenced at that time or the sentencing may take place at a later date.
Required Court Appearances in Shelby County
Any required court appearances in Shelby County Criminal Court must be attended by the defendant. Failure to appear in court at your required date and time may result in the judge issuing an arrest warrant.
In a jury trial in Shelby County, after both the prosecution and defense have rested, the judge will give instructions to the jury and jury deliberations will begin. The jury will convence in a private room to discuss and deliberate the innocence or guilt of the defendant. Once the jury arrives at a unimanous decision, they will inform the judge that they have reached a decision. They will return to the court and the verdict will be read aloud. If the jury cannot reach a unaminous decision, the jury is said to be deadlocked and a mistrial will be declared in the case.
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.
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.
Shelby County Criminal Court Locations
Shelby County Circuit Court
Address: 140 Adams Avenue, Room 324, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: 901-222-3800 Fax: 901-222-3818
Shelby County Chancery Court
Address: 140 Adams Avenue, Room 308, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: 901-222-3903 Fax: 901-222-3909
Shelby County Criminal Court
Address: 201 Poplar Avenue, Suite 4-01, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: 901-222-3200 Fax: 901-222-3225
Shelby County General Sessions Court – Civil
Address: 140 Adams Avenue, Suite 106, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: 901-222-3400 Fax: 901-222-3413
Shelby County General Sessions Court – Criminal
Address: 201 Poplar Avenue, Suite LL-81, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: 901-222-3500 Fax: 901-222-3597
Shelby County General Sessions Court – Criminal
Address: 201 Poplar Avenue, Suite LL-126, Memphis, TN 38134
Phone: 901-222-3600 Fax: 901-222-3501
Shelby County Juvenile Court
Address: 616 Adams Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103
Bartlett City Court
Address: 3730 Appling Road, Bartlett, TN 38133
Collierville Municipal Court
Address: 101 Walnut Street, Collierville, TN 38017
Phone: 901-457-2580 Fax: 901-457-2581
Germantown City Court
Address: 1930 South Germantown Road, Germantown, TN 38138
Memphis City Court
Address: 201 Poplar Avenue, Suite LL-80, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: 901-636-3400 Fax: 901-636-3861
Millington City Court
Address: 7950 Memphis Avenue, Suite 2, Millington, TN 38053