The police issued me a criminal citation in Tennessee. What should I do?
A criminal citation is very serious. It is not just a ticket, and a charge and a conviction on a misdemeanor or felony offense can follow you for the rest of your life.
The only reason the police didn’t arrest you was for their own convenience. They didn’t want to spend the time to handcuff you, bring you to the police station, and do the paperwork and booking involved in an arrest, which can take hours.
You must appear at a booking date where the charge is formally issued before you are able to deal with your charge in court. Booking itself can take from 30 minutes to 3 hours in some jurisdictions.
At events like Bonnaroo or other music festivals or large public events, this happens all the time. Unless the police believe you are an immediate threat to public safety, they aren’t going to want to arrest and process your charge on the spot. That way they can keep patrolling and writing more citations. It is a manpower issue.
But just because you weren’t arrested does not mean it is not a serious offense. You can even receive a citation for a felony charge in some cases, although technically that shouldn’t be allowed.
Can I Beat This Charge?
Yes, in many cases we can work out a deal to avoid a permanent criminal record for most drug possession offenses and minor crimes.
For most people, that is absolutely a win. Really what you want is to move past this incident with minimal disruption and impact to your life. Especially if you have to travel from out of state or far away to deal with the court systems here.
Of course, injustices and wrongful charges absolutely happen! If you’ve been wrongfully accused or there are good reasons to fight the charges, we can absolutely discuss more aggressive measures to file motions to get the charges dropped or even fight the case at trial. I can go over all those options in a phone consultation.
What Criminal Charges Can You get a Criminal Citation For?
By far the most common charge for criminal citations is simple drug possession. Many of these are for marijuana possession, which is a Class A misdemeanor charge. While many other states have become more enlightened on cannabis laws and decriminalized possession of a small bag of weed or a couple of joints, under Tennessee law, possession of any amount of marijuana is still a crime. And if you have half an ounce, even just for your personal use, you are facing a felony charge.
But at events like Bonnaroo, we see lots of charges for possession of cocaine, ecstasy, mushrooms, and LSD as well as a charge of drug paraphernalia thrown in. These are all Class A misdemeanor offenses, with possible penalties up to a year in jail (though serving actual jail time is unlikely in most minor cases).
You can also be criminally cited instead of arrested for almost any non-violent misdemeanor offense, including public order violations (disorderly conduct) traffic offenses (reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident) or theft incidents such as shoplifting.
Bonnaroo 2016 may not have been a record, but there were still hundreds of citations issued for drug possession and other charges. Most of these citations required a court appearance last August.
Who Am I?
My name is Michael Shipman. In 2015 I defended more criminal citations from Bonnaroo than anyone and was able to secure many excellent outcomes for my clients in the special docket for Coffee County as well as the surrounding areas and court.
I am based in Nashville, but travel across middle Tennessee to represent all types of clients who’ve found themselves in the unfortunate situation of facing a criminal charge.
Experience in these matters is hugely helpful it getting the best deal, and I’ve been doing dozens of these cases every year.
Please call me to discuss exactly what I can do to help you, and I will explain your best options to avoid the most serious negative consequences from your incident.