Criminal Law

What are my Miranda rights?

If you are subject to a “custodial interrogation,” (that means you are not free to leave) the police must inform you of your Miranda rights. These rights are (1) you have the right to remain silent and not answer questions, (2) you have the right to an attorney and have him/her present during questioning, (3) you have the right to stop the questioning at any time, and (4) if you can not afford an attorney the court may appoint one to represent you.

How do I get someone out of jail?

Generally speaking, everyone charged with a crime is entitled to a reasonable bond. Once the bond has been set by the magistrate or judge, you may either post a cash bond with the clerk of the court or you can contact a bonding company. For information on local bail bondsman, click here. The bonding company will charge you a certain percentage of the bond amount as a fee. This fee is generally non-refundable. Should the person you posted the bond for fail to appear in the court when scheduled, you may be liable for the entire amount of the bond.

Do I need an attorney if I am arrested or charged with a crime?

While you have a constitutional right to represent yourself, this is not usually the best course of action. Should you decide to represent yourself, then you will be held to the same standard as an attorney and expected to know the rules of the court and the applicable law.

If you decide not to represent yourself, you can hire your own attorney if you have the money to do so. If the court deems you indigent, it will appoint an attorney to represent you.

Can my lawyer take my criminal case on a contingency fee?

No. Criminal defense attorneys are not allowed to take cases on a contingency basis.

How do I find out when and where my case will be heard?

If you have an attorney, he/she should have that information and will provide it to you. If you do not have an attorney, there are several very useful websites that have links to each of the courts and provide case information in addition to other information.

  1. For case information on Madison County Circuit Court – Criminal Division, contact the Madison County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office at 731-423-6035.
  2. For case information on Madison County General Sessions Court – Criminal Division, contact the Madison County General Sessions Clerk’s Office at 731-423-6128.
  3. For case information on Jackson City Court, contact the Jackson City Court Clerk at 731-425-8292.
  4. For case information on Madison County Juvenile Court, contact the Madison County Juvenile Court Clerk’s Office at 731-423-6073.

If I am stopped for driving while impaired (DUI), should I take the breathalyzer test?

Under Tennessee law, you are not required to take the test. However, if you don’t take it, you will likely be charged with a separate offense of “refusal to blow.” If convicted of that charge, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. If you take the test, it can be used as evidence against you.

How do I get my driver’s license back?

Go to, or contact the Jackson City Court Clerk’s Office 731-425-8292.

Do I need an attorney if I have a traffic ticket?

Not necessarily. If you agree to the violation, you can sign the back of the ticket and mail your fine to the address on the back of the ticket. If you decide to contest the violation, you can appear before the court with or without an attorney.

DISCLAIMER: The above information available through is basic legal information and is neither intended as legal advice, nor a substitute for legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created herein. The content on is provided by the Jackson-Madison County Bar Association as a public service and for general information only. You should consult your attorney if you have questions concerning any specific situation. If you do not have an attorney, may we suggest that you visit our (Need a Lawyer – Criminal Defense Expungement of Record, Criminal Defense Adult, Criminal Defense Misdemeanors, Criminal Defense Felonies, Criminal Defense DUI, Criminal Defense Juveniles) section or find a lawyer in the phone book. The topics covered through will provide basic information and should make it easier for someone with a problem to decide whether they need professional help from a lawyer or if another agency could provide them with assistance.

A special thanks to the Memphis Bar Association for its contributions and assistance to the Jackson-Madison County Bar Association in making available this legal information. Portions of the foregoing content have been reprinted with the permission of the Memphis Bar Association.