Rule 1. Scope and Definitions

Rule 1. Scope and Definitions.

(a) Courts of Record. These rules govern the procedure in all criminal proceedings conducted in all Tennessee courts of record.

(b) General Sessions Court. These rules govern the procedure in the general sessions courts in the following instances:

(1) the institution of criminal proceedings pursuant to Rules 3, 3.5, and 4;

(2) the disposition of criminal charges pursuant to Rule 5;

(3) preliminary hearings pursuant to Rule 5.1;

(4) subpoena pursuant to Rule 17;

(5) venue pursuant to Rule 18;

(6) search and seizure pursuant to Rule 41;

(7) assignment of counsel pursuant to Rule 44;

(8) the use of electronic audio-visual equipment to conduct initial appearances pursuant to Rule 43;

(9) the time computations for setting and the process for continuing preliminary hearings pursuant to Rule 45; and

(10) any other situation where the context clearly indicates applicability.

(c) Juvenile Courts. These rules do not apply in juvenile courts except when an adult is charged and the context clearly requires the application of the rule.

(d) Other Inferior Tribunals. These rules apply in other inferior tribunals when the context clearly so indicates.

(e) Definitions. As used in these rules the following terms have the designated meanings:

(1) Demurrer, Motion, etc. The words “demurrer,” “motion,” “motion to quash,” “plea in abatement,” “plea in bar,” or words to the same effect in any Tennessee statute are construed to mean the motion raising a defense or objection provided in Rule 12.

(2) Law. “Law” includes statutes, codifications contained in Tennessee Code Annotated, and published judicial decisions.

(3) Magistrate. “Magistrate” includes all judges of courts of record in the state but is primarily intended to mean judges of courts of general sessions. It also includes judicial commissioners and justices of the peace when they perform any of the functions contemplated by these rules.

(4) Person. “Person” includes an individual, corporation, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, firm, company, or association.

(5) Oath. “Oath” includes oaths and affirmations.

[Amended by order filed December 29, 2015; effective July 1, 2016.]

Advisory Commission Comment.

These rules apply in cases which are clearly criminal in nature, including both misdemeanors and felonies. Procedures in purely juvenile and municipal courts are not covered. The term general sessions court, as used in these rules, includes all courts exercising the jurisdiction of a general sessions court in state criminal procedures, including: (1) municipal courts having such jurisdiction by special legislative enactment; (2) special courts of multiple functions that include some jurisdiction in state criminal cases the same as that exercised by general sessions courts; and (3) justices of the peace, to the extent that they may be permitted in some counties to perform any of the functions covered by these rules. In summary, the purpose of the commission was to formulate rules of practice in those state criminal cases presently considered to be state criminal procedures and now covered by rules serving the purposes of the ones promulgated herein.

These rules are not completely comprehensive. For example, they do not deal directly with pretrial release. It is intended that these rules be applied in every instance in which they address the procedure involved. If they do not expressly or by clear implication relate to the procedure in question, then existing law is to be applied.

These rules take precedence over preexisting statutes and case law which are in conflict with them, but statutes passed subsequent to their adoption which conflict with these rules shall control. These committee comments were not as such adopted with the rules. They have been periodically revised by the advisory commission and published with the rules subsequent to the general assembly’s adoption of the resolution approving them. The purpose of these comments is to aid in the understanding and application of the rules; but it must be made clear that the committee comments are not a part of the rules and are not binding upon the courts.

Advisory Commission Comment [2006].

In 2006, the rules were updated and reformatted to make them more easily understood. The new format was based largely on a similar undertaking to update and reformat the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The advisory commission comments also were extensively revised to update citations to particular parts of these rules, to remove obsolete language, and to make the comments more comprehensible. In revising the comments, the commission consolidated the original comments with the subsequent comments added over the years, as the rules were amended. Following the 2006 revisions, new advisory commission comments will be added as individual rules are amended. Where such new comments are added, the new comments are intended to supersede the older comments only to the extent that they are in conflict. However, the presence of both comments is designed to make alterations more readily apparent.

In the event a particular case involves application of a rule as it existed prior to the reformatting and updating of the rules in 2006, please refer to a historical volume of the rules.

Advisory Commission Comments [2007].

The comments to Rule 5 cross-reference the time for setting the preliminary hearing to the time computation provisions of Rule 45. However, Rule 45 does not explicitly apply to general sessions courts by its omission from Rule 1. The 2007 amendment to Rule 1(b)(9) corrects this omission but only concerning the time for setting, and process for continuing, the preliminary hearing once set. There is no intent to impact the requirements of Rule 5(a)(1) dictating that, with certain exceptions, an arrested person must be “taken without unnecessary delay before the nearest appropriate magistrate.” As a result of the 2007 amendment adopting a new (b)(9), the then-existing (b)(9) was renumbered as (b)(10).

The amendment to Rule 1(e)(3) adds “judicial commissioners” to the definition of a magistrate. This alteration makes the rule appropriately consistent with Tenn. Code Ann. §40-5-102 as it relates to courts which exercise jurisdiction at the initial stages of the criminal process as Rules 4 and 5 contemplate.

Advisory Commission Comments [2016].

Consistent with simultaneous amendments to Tenn. R. Crim. P. 5 and 5.1, obsolete references in Rule 1(b) to “preliminary examinations” are changed to “preliminary hearings.”

Additionally, the second sentence of the 2006 Advisory Commission Comment (which sentence referred to historical information previously available on the Tennessee Supreme Court’s website) is deleted because the information mentioned in that sentence is no longer available on the Court’s website.


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