Bristol Municipal Court – Bristol, TN

by | Oct 27, 2021

A municipal court is a court with limited jurisdiction over criminal offenses and civil disputes inside its area. These courts can be found at the city or county level.

Bristol Municipal Court INformation

Court: Bristol Municipal Court
Address: “City Hall 801 Anderson Street, PO Box 1189, Bristol, TN 37620”
Phone: 423-989-5500

City: Bristol
County: Sullivan
State: Tennessee

What is the purpose of the Bristol Municipal Court?

Municipal Courts are commonly called “courts of limited jurisdiction.” Which means that they handle minor crimes, civil matters, and traffic incidents. Courthouses like Bristol Municipal Court are the first level of court for these types of cases.

On the other hand, the purpose of a county court is to deal with a large number of civil disputes within the respective region. Most cases involve divorce or other family matters, injury cases, more serious criminal charges, or contract disputes.

County courthouses have the jurisdiction to deal with misdemeanors and civil matters that won’t exceed the amount of $15,000, while the circuits courts handle felony cases and bigger civil matters.

TYPES OF Legal Matters adjudicated IN A MUNICIPAL COURT in Bristol, Tennessee

Municipal courts are the entry level of courts in the United States. They are usually found within the jurisdiction where they are located, but some jurisdictions share municipal courts with other municipalities.

This can be done to better service their citizens or to save money on overhead costs. The cases that may be heard by a municipal court can change based on on the municipality, but typically include traffic crimes, low level criminal charges and code violations.

You will not see a set definition for what constitutes a misdemeanor versus a felony charge, but generally speaking felonies would require more time in jail than misdemeanors and fines may also be higher for felonies. Traffic violations usually result in points against your driver’s license as well

What’s the process for cases in the municipal court in Bristol?

Municipal courts are the first tier of the court system in the United States. They have jurisdiction over minor crimes, traffic tickets, and other civil matters. Municipal courts are often known as city courts or town courts. Matters are handled by a magistrate who is usually an attorney, judge, or retired judge. Magistrates may be appointed by the mayor or city council members to help for a specific duration.

Magistrates preside over hearings to determine:

  • Probable cause for an arrest
  • Set bail amounts and the conditions of release
  • Conduct arraignment hearings when charges are filed against suspects by police officers
  • Issue search warrants to law enforcement officers in order to seize evidence from crime scenes
  • start preliminary inquiries to learn if there is enough evidence to issue a charge

The typical process of a Municipal Court matter

The common path of a municipal court case can be tricky. The following is an overview of the common items involved in a regular municipal court case.

Step One: An Issuance of Summons

A summons is issued when an individual has been charged with violating a town ordinance or state law. The citizen who has received the summons will need to be present at their assigned time and place, which is usually the municipal courtroom, to answer for the charge(s) against them. If they never appear, they may be found guilty in absentia and could be fined up to $1,000.00 or given a jail term if it’s a serious enough offense.

Step Two: Appearance before Judge or Magistrate

If someone fails to show up after being summoned by the judge, there may be a warrant issued for the individual. 

Municipal Court Penalties in Bristol, TN

Penalties change often, which is why it’s good to speak with licensed lawyer near you. The information below represents common penalties, but may not be 100% accurate for the Bristol Municipal Court. 

A violation is an offense that carries a penalty of $500 or less, while a misdemeanor charge can carry penalties up to $1,000.00 or one year in local jail. A person’s driving privileges may be suspended for six months if they receive three speeding tickets within 12 months.

The penalties for different offenses in municipal courthouses vary depending on the severity of an offenses. For example, if you are caught with marijuana without having a prescription for it then you could be fined up to $2k or spend up to six months in jail.

Bristol Municipal Court Records

Municipal Court records from a municipal court could be difficult to find because they are not always stored in one place or system. The records that a person might need to depend on the type of matter they have in front of the court, where it’s at in the process, and what kind of of information is required by law to be present.

Questions ABOUT the Bristol Municipal Court

What is municipal court in Bristol, Tennessee?

In Tennessee, the municipal court is a lower court with civil and criminal matters within a city or municipality. Municipal courts have a small location and have limited authority as well, dealing only with petty charges and misdemeanor charges.

What does the municipal court handle in Bristol, Tennessee?

Depending on the size of the municipality, a municipal court can handle a civil division (cases with less than  $15,000 at issue), a traffic/criminal division, or a housing and environmental division. More serious cases/crimes are deal with by higher authorities.

How many judges does the Bristol Municipal Court have?

The number of judges depends on the municipality’s size.

How are cases heard in municipal courts in Tennessee?

A municipal courthouse judge may be either elected or appointed to serve for a set term of years or until retirement. Judges are sometimes chosen by the people with each precinct’s results weighted according to the number of people. Municipal judges are often not attorneys but have some legal training and must finish many hours of continuing courses every year to maintain their credentials.