Cannon County Tennessee Courts

Cannon County Tennessee Courts: Introduction

Cannon County Tennessee Courts reside in a small county that lies just south of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  It is quickly becoming a suburb of the fast-growing Rutherford County.  The beautiful town of Woodbury is the home of both the general sessions and circuit courts for Cannon County.  It is a member of the 16th judicial district, which is headquartered in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  If you are arrested in Cannon County, the following information will provide you with everything you need to understand the court system in this rural county.

Cannon County General Sessions Court

The Cannon County General Sessions (and Juvenile Court) is presided over by Judge Susan Melton.  It is the court that handles almost all of the civil and criminal matters in Cannon County.  It is the "people's court" of first impression designed to handle small matters and those matters easily resolved without a complex hearing.  General sessions court can only handle misdemeanor offenses. If you are arrested for a criminal offense, then it is most likely that this will be your first court date.

The Procedure

The procedure in general sessions court is complex but easy to explain.  During your first appearance, you will be given a formal notice by the judge of the charges against you.  The judge will inform you that you have the right to have an attorney and will give you time to hire an attorney.  Once you hire an attorney, your attorney will have an opportunity to negotiate your case with the District Attorney (prosecutor).  If you are charged with a felony that the prosecutor declines to reduce to a misdemeanor, then you cannot resolve your case in general sessions court.  If your attorney speaks with the prosecutor, then he will convey you the offer made in your case along with his or her recommendation.  If your attorney recommends you plea guilt and you agree, then you will plea in general sessions court and be sentenced according to the plea agreement.  However, if your attorney recommends you plea not guilty, you refuse to take the prosecutor's offer, or both, then you have the right to a preliminary hearing.  A preliminary hearing is a probable cause determination made by the general sessions court judge.  If the judge determines there is probable cause, then your case will be bound over to the Cannon County grand jury, which will determined whether your case should be sent to circuit court.  If the judge determines there is not probable cause, then the judge will dismiss your case; however, the prosecutor can still present your case to the grand jury.  If the grand jury returns a true bill on a case dismissed in general sessions court, you will be re-arrested and forced to post another bond.  The other option is to waive your preliminary hearing and bind your case over to the grand jury (this option is rarely beneficial).