For those who face a federal criminal charge in Tennessee, it is very important to understand the charges against you. The most important thing to understand is that a federal charge usually is much more serious than a similar state charge. In the case of federal charges, such as in a drug case, you may face a mandatory minimum sentence, whereas a similar charge at the state level might result in much less prison time.
The first step that will happen in the case of a federal charge in Tennessee is for you to learn the nature the charge against you. After you learn about the charge, in all likelihood, you will be kept in custody in the appropriate federal district in Tennessee.
Of course, if in your case you get bond and are able to pay it, you can leave jail pending the outcome of the case. If not, you will need to stay in federal hands until at least the preliminary hearing.
About the Preliminary Hearing
You have a right in all states to have your preliminary hearing within three days of your arrest. During the hearing, you are entitled to challenge evidence against you at the federal level. But know that the government’s standard of proof at this point is quite low. They only need to show probable cause to keep you in custody to try you. If the case goes to court, the prosecution then is required to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
It also is important to know that at this point, the feds have more leeway in the case they have against you than in a state case. You will not have as many chances to review the evidence against you and to interview witnesses prior to trial. In your Tennessee federal charge case, pretrial investigation is very important, so you want to have an experienced lawyer on hand.
About the Bond Hearing
In Tennessee, your federal bond hearing will occur on any federal charge on which you are being held. You will want to try to get out of jail pending the outcome of the case, but if you have federal warrants against you, you cannot be released on bond.
Your attorney should try to boost your chances of getting out on bond by having people testify as to your good character. The federal government wants to be certain that you will not run from the state or country if you are released.
Federal Jurisdictions in Tennessee
There are two federal jurisdictions in Tennessee: the Eastern District and Western District.
Sentences for Federal Crimes in Tennessee
If you are convicted, you will get sentenced by a federal judge, and the federal sentencing guidelines usually determine the length of the sentence. You may have to serve a mandatory minimum sentence, which the judge has little discretion to change. In some cases, you could face a mandatory minimum of at least five years.
Your sentence also depends upon your prior record, your background and growing up, and if you have children at home.
Top Tennessee Federal Crime Issues
As in much of the US, the top federal crime charge in Tennessee is drugs. This includes drug possession and drug distribution or trafficking. More of the drug charges at the federal level usually are related to trafficking, as that involves selling large amounts of drugs to multiple users. Immigration offenses are also common federal charges in this state.
Statute of Limitations in Tennessee
For all federal crimes, there is a statute of limitations in effect, which depends upon what charge was against you and whether it was a civil or criminal matter.
- Assault – 2 years
- Contract – 10 years
- False imprisonment – 2 years
- Fraud – 5 years
- Judgements – 20 years
- Libel – 1 year
- Personal injury – 2 years
- Property damage – 5 years
- Slander – 1 year
- Wrongful death – 2 years
- Arson – No limit
- Assault – 3 years
- Burglary – 3 years
- Murder – no limit
- Manslaughter – no limit
- Rape – no limit or 3 years, depending on case
- Kidnapping – 3 years
- Robbery – 3 years