The Power of the Preliminary Hearing

Griffin Davis Law Firm

The Power of the Preliminary Hearing

When you find yourself charged with a crime in Tennessee, you may be unaware of the rights and options available to you.  In fact, this is usually the case with most people facing criminal charges.  They often miss opportunities to explore and raise possible defenses. A great deal of people coming through the Tennessee justice system either do not realize that they have the right to have a preliminary hearing before the General Sessions Court or simply overlook it. Sadly, this means many defendants miss out on the ability to challenge the State’s proof and possibly open up meaningful gaps in the State’s case.

Preliminary hearings are a valuable tool in getting the State’s witnesses to give sworn testimony on the record. A preliminary hearing’s burden of proof is probable cause, which is substantially lower than the beyond a reasonable doubt burden of proof required to convict at trial. This often means that the State will meet this minimal burden, but not always.

A recent criminal case handled by firm partner, Brandon Griffin, highlighted a preliminary hearing’s importance.  The particular case was before the Clay County General Sessions Court, sitting in Celina, Tennessee. The matter was State of Tennessee v. Suzanne Boles.  The State charged Ms. Boles with an A misdemeanor under T.C.A. section 39-13-306.  The State alleged she committed custodial interference. Through detailed cross-examination, Mr. Griffin was able to show to the Clay County General Sessions Court that Ms. Boles did not commit the offense alleged against her.

Of particular importance was the certified copy of the parenting plan, which Mr. Griffin had entered into evidence as an exhibit. The allegations made were not in compliance with the parenting plan’s established parenting time. Ultimately, this challenge of the State’s proof resulted in the case being dismissed.  Her attorney’s fees were also assessed against her accuser. This is why seeking a preliminary hearing in your criminal case is never a bad idea!  When facing criminal charges, let the attorneys at Griffin & Davis, PLLC assist you with your preliminary hearing.

If you have a criminal issue, let us help you! We directly service Sparta, Kingston, Crossville, and Cookeville with offices in each.  We also handle matters in the surrounding regions.  Call us at 931-837-2050 or 865-354-3333. For more information about Griffin & Davis, PLLC and our law practice, visit our website at

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