State Criminal Citations

Davidson County Court House

State Criminal Citations

According to Tennessee law, a police officer will issue a citation to you for committing a misdemeanor offense. A state criminal citation is a written order issued by a police officer that requires the person accused of violating the law to appear in court at a specific date and time.

The citation will require you to appear in court, be fingerprinted, photographed and booked. The case will then proceed like any other criminal case. The benefit of a citation is that you are not arrested and you do not have to post bail. Generally, a person is not subject to search when a citation is issued in place of arrest.

As with all Tennessee laws, there are many exceptions to the citation rule. For certain misdemeanors, such as:

  • Driving Under the Influence
  • Theft
  • Shoplifting
  • Driving on a Revoked or Suspended License
  • Assault and Prostitution


The officer has discretion on whether or not to issue a citation or take the you into custody. The officer will take a person into custody and will not issue a citation if the following circumstances exist:
1. The person arrested requires medical examination, medical care or is unable to care for their own safety;
2. There is a reasonable likelihood that the crime would continue, resume or that a human or property would be endangered by the arrested person;
3. The person arrested cannot or will not offer satisfactory evidence of identification, including the providing of a field-administered fingerprint or thumbprint which a peace officer may require to be affixed to any citation;
4. The prosecution of the crime for which the person was arrested, or of another offense, would be jeopardized;
5. A reasonable likelihood exists that the arrested person will fail to appear in court;
6. The person demands to be taken immediately before a judge or refuses to sign the citation;
7. The person arrested is so intoxicated that they could be a danger to their own self or to others;
8. There are one (1) or more outstanding arrest warrants for the person; or
9. The person is subject to arrest pursuant to § 55-10-119.

It is important to note that you receive a State criminal citation and you fail to appear at the specified time for booking, then the court will issue a bench warrant for your arrest.

Hagan & Todd represent individuals charged through criminal citations in all Middle Tennessee counties. It is important to realize that just because you were issued a citation instead of custodial arrest, a State criminal citation is still a criminal offense and can result in a criminal conviction on your record.