In areas where Tennessee Circuit Courts are overwhelmed by the caseload, the General Assembly has created Criminal Courts to take some of the burden off them. The state of Tennessee is divided into 31 judicial districts each covering a few of the 95 counties. Judges who serve Criminal Courts also work in other courts such as Circuit Courts and Chancery Courts. They are elected into office and serve eight-year terms. There are four senior judges that serve the trial courts, and they serve only four-year terms.
The types of cases handled by Criminal Courts are all criminal offenses, including misdemeanors and felonies. These courts do use jury trials. They can also hear misdemeanor appeals from some of the lower courts. If a district does not have a Criminal Court, all criminal proceedings are handled by the Circuit Court of that division.
The Tennessee State Courts website has a complete listing of all Criminal Courts judges in alphabetical order. There is also a search feature so someone can find the Criminal Court judge in their district. The same website has resources for patrons of Criminal Court such as forms for filing cases, a list of court fees, publications, guides and help for repeat offenders who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. They also have a criminal justice handbook which can be ordered online.
For the last year tallied, Criminal Courts saw a total of 174,757 new filings. Of that total, the largest number (32,375 ) was for drugs, 32,346 were for probation violations, 24,996 were for burglary, 14,160 were for motor vehicle offenses, 11,130 were for assault, 10,481 were for offenses against the government, 9,455 were for property damage, 7,205 for DUIs, 4,976 were sexual offenses, 1,942 were for murder and the rest were for various criminal activities.