Sheriffs

Reference Number: CTAS-36

In addition to the general qualifications of officeholders specified in T.C.A. § 8-18-101, the sheriff, in all counties, except those with a metropolitan form of government in which law enforcement powers have been assigned to some other official, must have the following specific qualifications:

  1. Be a citizen of the United States;
  2. Be at least 25 years of age prior to the date of qualifying for election;
  3. Be a qualified voter of the county and a resident of the county for one full year prior to the date of the qualifying deadline for running as a candidate for sheriff;
  4. Have obtained a high school diploma or its equivalent in educational training as recognized by the Tennessee state board of education;
  5. Not have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to or entered a plea of nolo contendere to any misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or any felony charge or violation of any federal or state laws or city ordinances relating to force, violence, theft, dishonesty, gambling, liquor or controlled substances;
  6. Be fingerprinted and have the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) make a search of local, state and federal fingerprint files for any criminal record. Fingerprints are to be taken under the direction of the TBI. It is the responsibility of the TBI to forward all criminal history results to the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission for evaluation of qualifications;
  7. Not have been released, separated or discharged from the armed forces of the United States with a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge, or as a consequence of conviction at court martial for either state or federal offenses;
  8. Have been certified by a Tennessee licensed health care provider qualified in the psychiatric or psychological field as being free from any impairment, as set forth in the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association at the time of the examination, that would, in the professional judgment of the examiner, affect the applicant's ability to perform an essential function of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation;
  9. Have at least three (3) years of full-time experience as a POST commission certified law enforcement officer in the previous ten (10) years or at least three (3) years of full-time experience as a state or federal certified law enforcement officer with training equivalent to that required by the POST commission in the previous ten (10) years; provided that any person holding the office of sheriff on May 30, 2011 shall be deemed to have met this requirement (does not apply in Davidson County); and 
  10. Not have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to or entered a plea of nolo contendere to any felony charge or violation of any federal or state laws relating to controlled substance analogues.

T.C.A. § 8-8-102(a). See also Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-2-.03 (2). Any full-time deputy employed after July 1, 1981, and any person employed or utilized as a part-time, temporary, reserve, or auxiliary deputy or as a special deputy after January 1, 1989, must meet certain minimum standards similar to those required for sheriffs. T.C.A. § 38-8-106.

Reference Number: CTAS-1216

The sheriff is elected to a four-year term in the August general election in the same year in which the governor is elected. Elections for the office of sheriff are held on the first Thursday in August at the regular August election when the election immediately precedes the commencement of a full term.  Tenn. Const., art. VII, § 1; T.C.A. § 2-3-202.

Certification by the POST Commission

Any person seeking the office of sheriff must file with the POST Commission, at least 14 days prior to the qualifying deadline, the following:

  1. An affidavit sworn to and signed by the candidate affirming that the candidate meets the requirements of T.C.A. § 8-8-102; and
  2. A confirmation of psychological evaluation form certified by the psychologist/psychiatrist providing psychological evaluation as provided for in T.C.A. § 8-8-102(a)(8) for the purposes of sheriff candidacy qualification. The form shall be made available by the POST Commission upon request by any candidate for the office of sheriff.

T.C.A. § 8-8-102(b)(1)(A) and (B).

If the affidavit and psychological evaluation form are not filed with the commission by the 14 day prior to the qualifying deadline, the candidate's name may not be placed on the ballot. The commission has the authority to verify the validity of the affidavit and psychological evaluation form. T.C.A. § 8-8-102(b)(2).

The POST commission must verify peace officer standards and training certification of any person seeking the office of sheriff to the extent subdivision (a)(9) requires such person to have such certification. If the person does not have such certification on the date the person files the affidavit seeking to qualify as a candidate for the office of sheriff, the POST commission shall certify whether the person has the three (3) years of full-time experience as a POST commission certified law enforcement officer and whether the certification is current. If the candidate does not have a current certification, or if the person has the law enforcement experience as a state or federal law enforcement officer pursuant to subdivision (a)(9), then such candidate shall certify with the county election commission by the withdrawal deadline their exemption pursuant to such subdivision. T.C.A. § 8-8-102(b)(3)(A).

The original notarized verification form from the commission must be filed by the commission with the county election commission by the withdrawal deadline. T.C.A. § 8-8-102(b)(3)(B).

If the POST commission or the candidate, as appropriate, has not certified to the county election commission by the withdrawal deadline a person seeking to qualify as a candidate for the office of sheriff as meeting the qualifications as provided for in T.C.A. § 8-8-102, such person's name shall not appear on the ballot.  T.C.A. § 8-8-102(b)(3)(C).

Challenge of Qualifications

A person may challenge whether a candidate has the required qualifications for sheriff, as identified in T.C.A. § 8-8-102 (a); provided, that the challenge is filed in writing with the POST commission no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon prevailing time on the third day after the qualifying deadline, as determined under T.C.A. § 2-5-101(a).

T.C.A. § 8-8-102 (d).

If a candidate's qualifications are challenged pursuant to subsection (d), the POST commission shall:

  1. Notify the candidate of the challenge;
  2. Review and verify the candidate's required qualifications, identified in subsection (a);
  3. Review and verify the candidate's affidavit and psychological evaluation form, in accordance with subsection (b); and
  4. If the POST commission determines the candidate does not possess the required qualifications for sheriff:
    1. Disqualify the candidate;
    2. Notify the candidate and county election commission of its determination no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon prevailing time on the seventh day after the qualifying deadline, as determined under T.C.A. § 2-5-101(a); and
    3. Request that the county election commission: (i) Not print the candidate's name on any ballot; and (ii) Remove the candidate's name from any printed ballot.

T.C.A. § 8-8-102 (e).

It is an offense for a person to intentionally file a fraudulent challenge. A violation is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by fine only. T.C.A. § 8-8-102 (f).

See  Nominations and Qualifying Deadlines,  Campaign Financial Disclosure Act of 1980, the Campaign Contribution Limits, and Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statements.

Reference Number: CTAS-37

In addition to filing the required bond and the usual oath of office, a sheriff must "take an oath that [he or she] has not promised or given, nor will give, any fee, gift, gratuity, or reward for the office or for aid in procuring such office, that [he or she] will not take any fee, gift, or bribe, or gratuity for returning any person as a juror or for making any false return of any process, and that [he or she] will faithfully execute the office of sheriff to the best of [his or her] knowledge and ability agreeably to law." T.C.A. § 8-8-104.

Sheriff's deputies must take the same oaths as the sheriff, which are certified, filed, and endorsed in the same manner as the sheriff's. T.C.A. § 8-18-112. See Oaths under General Information tab of the County Offices topic for additional information and an example of the full oath of office for a sheriff and regular deputies.

Bonds are covered under the General Information tab of the County Offices topic.

Reference Number: CTAS-30

Before taking office, the Tennessee Constitution, Article X, Section 1, provides that every person chosen to any office of trust must take an oath to "support the Constitution of this state and of the United States, and an oath of office." Review Oaths of Office for examples of different oaths.

There are various statutes throughout the Tennessee code providing for administering oaths to particular officials.  There is also a general provision found at T.C.A. § 8-18-109(b), which provides that oaths of office for any elected or appointed official may be administered by the county mayor, the county clerk, a judge (current or retired) of any court of record in the county, or a current or retired judge of the general sessions court.  In addition, under § T.C.A. 8-18-107, the governor, an active or retired supreme court justice, an active or retired inferior court judge, or an active or retired general sessions judge may administer the oath of office to an inferior court judge and, except as otherwise provided by law, to any other elected or appointed official. Notaries public are authorized to administer oaths pursuant to T.C.A. § 8-16-112. Members of the general assembly are also authorized to administer oaths to county officials. T.C.A.. § 3-1-105. The oath of office for any county official required to file an oath may be administered at any time after the certification of the election returns by the appropriate legal authority in the case of elected officials, or after appointment in the case of appointed officials. However, even if the official files an oath before the scheduled start of a term of office, the official may not take office until the term officially begins. T.C.A. § 8-18-109.

The oath must be written and subscribed by the person taking it. Accompanying the oath must be a certificate executed by the officer administering the oath specifying the day and the year it was taken. T.C.A. § 8-18-107. The oath and the certificate are filed in the office of the county clerk, who endorses on them the day and year of filing, and signs the endorsement. T.C.A. §§ 8-18-109, 8-18-110. Any county official who fails to take and file the required oaths is guilty of a misdemeanor. T.C.A. § 8-18-113. 

 

 

 

Reference Number: CTAS-31

An official bond is an instrument that requires the party or parties designated as sureties to pay a specified sum of money if the official who executes the bond fails to perform certain acts or performs wrongful and injurious acts in the office. In other words, an official bond is a written promise, made by a public official (1) to perform all the duties of the office, (2) to pay over to authorized persons all funds received in an official capacity, (3) to keep all records required by law, (4) to turn over to his or her successor all records, money, and property, and (5) to refrain from anything that is illegal, improper, or harmful while acting in an official capacity. If the official fails to perform the duties, violates the law, or commits a harmful act, the person who is injured may collect damages from the sureties on the official bond. The sureties must be surety companies doing business in Tennessee unless the county commission by two-thirds majority vote authorizes two individuals to act as good sureties instead of a surety company. T.C.A. §§ 8-19-111, 8-19-101, 8-19-301.

The bond protects the state, the county, and the citizens in the event the county official fails to perform his or her duties properly. The bond does not protect county officials from liability. If a payment is made under the bond, the county official's sureties may have a right to recover the amount paid from the county official. This action against the county official by the sureties is known as subrogation. The following county constitutional officials must execute a surety bond: county clerk, court clerks, sheriff, register, property assessor, and trustee. Also, bonds are required for the finance director, director of accounts and budgets, county auditor, constable, coroner, road commissioners, county surveyor, director of schools, purchasing agent, and notaries.  A blanket bond is required for all county employees that are not otherwise covered.  The specific bond amounts are set out in the table entitled County Officials'/Employees' Minimum Bond.

The form of official bonds is prescribed by the comptroller of the treasury, with the approval of the attorney general. T.C.A. § 8-19-101. Blank copies of official bonds, ready for use, are available from the comptroller, Division of Local Finance.

The official bond of every county public official must be conditioned in the following manner: T.C.A. § 8-19-111.

That if the ______________________________ (principal) shall:

  1. Faithfully perform the duties of the office of___________________________ of _____________________County during such person’s term of office or continuance therein; and
  2. Pay over to the persons authorized by law to receive them, all moneys, properties, or things of value that may come into such principal’s hands during such principal’s term of office or continuance therein without fraud or delay, and shall faithfully and safely keep all records required in such principal’s official capacity, and at the expiration of the term, or in case of resignation or removal from office, shall turn over to the successor all records and property which have come into such principal’s hands, then this obligation shall be null and void; otherwise to remain in full force and effect.

Some counties also use “blanket bonds” for all of the county officeholders. T.C.A. § 8-19-101.

Official bonds of the sheriff, county trustee, county clerk, and register of deeds must be approved by the county legislative body, recorded in the office of the register of deeds and transmitted to the county clerk for safekeeping. T.C.A. §§ 8-19-102, 8-19-103. Official bonds of assessors of property and persons vested by law with the authority to administer county highway and bridge funds must be approved by the county legislative body, recorded in the office of the county register of deeds, and transmitted to the county clerk for safekeeping.  T.C.A. §§ 67-1-505, 54-4-103(c). Official bonds of clerks of court must be approved and certified by the court, entered into the minutes of the court, recorded in the office of register of deeds and transmitted to the county clerk for safekeeping. T.C.A. § 18-2-205. The official bond of the director of schools must be approved by the county mayor, recorded in the office of the register of deeds and transmitted to the office of the county clerk for safekeeping.  T.C.A. §§ 49-2-102, 9-3-301. The official bonds of other county officials, constables, and county employees required to have bonds shall be approved by the county legislative body, recorded in the office of the register of deeds and transmitted to the office of the county clerk for safekeeping. T.C.A. §§ 8-19-102, 8-19-103. Official bonds of officers which must be transmitted to the county clerk must be so transmitted for filing within forty days of election or twenty days after the term of office begins; all other bonds must be filed in the proper office within thirty (30) days after the election or within ten days after the term of office begins.  T.C.A. § 8‑19‑115.

The register of deeds of each county must maintain a special record book in which each official bond is recorded unless the register is authorized to use a system of continuous recordings of all instruments. T.C.A. §§ 8-19-104, 8-13-108(d). The register of deeds must endorse on the bond the day and year on which it was recorded and sign the endorsement. Similarly, the county clerk, with respect to bonds filed for safekeeping in the office of county clerk, must endorse the filing date and sign the endorsement. Failure of the register or county clerk to endorse and sign the bond is a misdemeanor. T.C.A. § 8-19-116.

Any officer who is required by law to give bond and who fails to file it in the proper office within the time prescribed vacates the office. In such cases, the officer in whose office the bond is required to be filed must certify this failure to the appointing power. T.C.A. § 8-19-117. Upon the filing of a complaint alleging the failure of a county officer or constable to enter into an official bond as required by law, the circuit court clerk or the clerk and master having jurisdiction issues a summons that is served, together with a copy of the complaint, upon the county officer or constable in accordance with the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. T.C.A. § 8-19-205. If the official fails or refuses to execute the required bond after receiving a copy of the complaint and a hearing, the court will enter a judgment declaring the office vacant, and the vacancy will be filled according to law. T.C.A. § 8-19-206. In addition, any officer required by law to give bond who performs any official act before the bond is approved and filed as required is guilty of a misdemeanor. T.C.A. § 8-19-119.

County officials must enter into a new bond at the beginning of each term. If the original of any bond is lost or destroyed, the record of the bond will be considered the original and suit may be instituted on the recorded bond. T.C.A. § 8-19-105. The county pays the premiums for official bonds and registration fees of county officials and employees. T.C.A. § 8-19-106. The constable pays all of the costs of obtaining and recording the official bond for his or her office unless the county legislative body votes to pay the cost of obtaining and recording the bond. T.C.A. § 8-10-106.

Reference Number: CTAS-38

The sheriff receives a minimum statutory compensation amount according to county population class. T.C.A. § 8-24-102. Pursuant to T.C.A. § 8-24-102(g), compensation for the sheriff must be at least 10 percent higher than the salary paid to the general officers of the county. However, the county legislative body may increase the compensation of the sheriff above the minimum amount required by the state law. T.C.A. §§ 8-24-103 and 8-24-111.

Additional Compensation

At their first session in each and every year, the county legislative body is required to make an allowance that they in their discretion think sufficient to compensate the sheriff for ex officio services. T.C.A. §§ 5-9-101(6), 8-24-111. The county legislative body is authorized to pay the sheriff an amount, in addition to the salary allowed by T.C.A. § 8-24-102, for ex officio services as the superintendent of the workhouse if the workhouse is combined with the jail as provided for by Title 41, Chapter 2. T.C.A. § 8-24-103(a)(3).

More information about Compensation can be found under the General Information tab of the County Offices topic.

Reference Number: CTAS-32

There are specific statutes regarding compensation for each office. In general, though, statutes prescribe salaries according to county population classes for many officials. The General Assembly has established 17 population classes for the purpose of determining the compensation of county officers. T.C.A. § 8-24-102. This statute provides base minimum salary schedules for three categories of county officers: (1) "general officers," which include assessors of property, county clerks, clerks of court, trustees, and registers of deeds; (2) sheriffs and chief administrative officers of highway departments; and (3) county mayors. These specified minimum salaries cannot be raised or lowered except through subsequent legislation, but since they are minimum salaries, the actual salary may be increased by resolution of the county legislative body, but the class of general officers must all receive the same amount of any increase.

The minimum salaries are adjusted annually on July 1 by a dollar amount equal to the average annualized increase in state employees' compensation during the prior fiscal year multiplied by the compensation established for the county officials of the county with the median population of all counties. The adjustment cannot exceed 5 percent in any year; provided, however, the annual percentage increase in the minimum compensation of county officials shall not be less than the percentage increase established for county officials of the county with the median population of all counties. The average annualized general increase in state employees' compensation for purposes of calculating the adjustment in salary for county officials means the average increase in base salary plus the equivalent percentage increase represented by appropriated funds made available to address classification compensation issues, plus the equivalent percentage increase represented by recurring appropriation amounts provided to improve the level of retirement benefits, longevity benefits, deferred compensation benefits and other similar benefits not including health insurance benefits. These adjustments are calculated and certified by May 1 of each year by the commissioner of finance and administration. T.C.A. § 8-24-102.

Full-time county officials, not including general sessions judges, who complete the County Officials Certificate Training Program (COCTP) administered by the University of Tennessee's County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) and become a "Certified Public Administrator" may receive an annual incentive payment up to a maximum of $1,500 from state-appropriated funds. To continue receiving these payments, certified county officials must take additional training annually. If an official receives incentive pay from the state through other professional development programs, such amounts will be offset so that no official receives more than $1,500 of incentive pay from the state per year; provided, however, certified public administrator educational incentive payments to assessors shall not be offset by the compensation received by assessors for obtaining certain professional designations pursuant to T.C.A. §§ 67-1-508; 5-1-310(e). These amounts are subject to annual appropriations from the General Assembly and have not reached the maximum allowed by law.

County legislative bodies may appropriate additional amounts as incentive payments to county officials and employees who have become Certified Public Administrators in an amount not exceeding $3,000 minus payments made by the state. Educational incentive pay received by an official does not affect the calculation of compensation for officials provided in other statutes. CTAS is required to submit a list to the state treasurer, by August 31 each year, of all county officers who have completed all requirements of the COCTP to attain or maintain the designation of Certified Public Administrator. This list replaces individual applications submitted by county officials for purposes of determining eligibility for the educational incentive payment. T.C.A. § 5-1-310.

Reference Number: CTAS-42

Every person who is elected or appointed to the office of sheriff after May 30, 1997 is annually required during the term of office to complete a 40-hour in-service training course appropriate for the rank and responsibilities of a sheriff. All such training must be approved by the POST Commission. Any sheriff who does not fulfill the obligations of this annual in-service training shall lose the power of arrest. T.C.A. § 8-8-102(c).

All sheriffs must complete annual in-service training as set forth in T.C.A. § 38-8-111. Sheriffs successfully completing annual in-service training receive a cash salary supplement in the same manner and under the same conditions as police officers except that the POST Commission makes the funds for sheriff’s salary supplements available to the appropriate counties for payment to sheriffs. In performing its duties, the commission recognizes that the sheriff is an elected official without any employing agency. The commission must issue to any sheriff successfully completing recruit training, or possessing its equivalency and completing continuing annual in-service training, a sheriff's certificate of compliance in the manner in which it issues police officers' certificates of compliance. A sheriff already holding any certificate of compliance from the commission may request the commission to recognize the sheriff's certification. A sheriff receiving a certificate of compliance has a continuing duty to meet all requirements as set forth in T.C.A. §§ 38-8-111 and 8-8-102. In the event a person holding a police officer's certificate of compliance assumes the office of sheriff, the commission must substitute a sheriff's certificate of compliance for the police officer certificate. T.C.A. § 38-8-111(f). See also Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-2-.03 (2).

The failure of a sheriff to successfully complete the in-service training requirement will result in the sheriff's loss of eligibility for the pay supplement set forth in T.C.A. § 38-8-111. The failure of a sheriff to successfully complete another in-service training session within one year will result in loss of certification. T.C.A. § 38-8-107(b).

 

Reference Number: CTAS-1217

Every person who is elected to the office of sheriff after August 1, 2006, in a regular August general election for a four year term, and is a first term sheriff, regardless of their previous law enforcement experience, must successfully complete the newly elected sheriffs’ school prior to the 1st day of September immediately following their election.  Thereafter, the sheriff must successfully complete 40 hours of annual in-service training appropriate for the rank and responsibilities of a sheriff. The newly elected sheriffs’ school is taught at the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy during August, only in the years elections for sheriffs are held. Any cost associated with attending the newly elected sheriffs’ school is paid by the county.  Any sheriff who does not fulfill the obligations of this training course loses the power of arrest. T.C.A. § 8-8-102(c).

Reference Number: CTAS-1218

Sheriffs receive fees from the public for services they perform. However, pursuant to T.C.A. § 8-24-103(a)(2), the sheriff must pay over to the trustee, on a monthly basis, all fees, commissions, and charges collected by the sheriff’s office during the month. Because the sheriff is no longer on the “fee system,” it is the duty of the county legislative body to make the necessary appropriation and pay to the sheriff the authorized expenses fixed by law for operating of the sheriff's office, direct from the county trustee in 12 equal monthly installments, irrespective of the fees earned by the sheriff. T.C.A. § 8-24-103(a)(1). Pursuant to T.C.A. § 8-20-120, the county legislative body is required to fund the operations of the sheriff's office. Accordingly, the county legislative body is authorized to appropriate moneys to purchase all necessary equipment for use by the sheriff for preservation of the peace and for the service and execution of all process, criminal and civil, and to pay the salaries of deputy sheriffs appointed pursuant to the provisions of Title 8, Chapter 20. T.C.A. § 5-9-101(21). All necessary books, stationery, office equipment, stamps, and supplies of all kinds used in the conduct of the sheriff’s office are to be furnished and paid for by the county. T.C.A. § 8-22-107(a). Additionally, the sheriff is authorized to include in the sheriff's expense account, as part of the expenses of the office, the necessary cost of arresting criminals, of furnishing and operating the county jail and maintaining the state and county prisoners therein, and all other necessary and legitimate expenses incurred in the proper and efficient administration of the sheriff’s office. T.C.A. § 8-22-110(a).

Reference Number: CTAS-39
Reference Number: CTAS-1221

The county sheriff has two options through which he may obtain authority to employ and compensate personnel to assist him to "properly and efficiently conduct the affairs and transact the business" of his office. T.C.A. § 8-20-101(a) (Supp.1996). The sheriff may either file a salary petition, which is an adversary proceeding between himself and the county executive; or, if the county executive and the sheriff agree on the number of deputies and assistants to be employed and the salary to be paid to them, a letter of agreement may be prepared and submitted to the court for approval. T.C.A. § 8-20-101(a)(2) & (c) (Supp.1996).

Shelby County Deputy Sheriff's Ass'n v. Gilless, 972 S.W.2d 683 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997).

Tennessee Code Annotatedsection 8-20-101 provides that when the sheriff cannot properly and efficiently conduct the affairs and transact the business of the sheriff’s office by devoting his or her entire working time thereto, he or she may employ such deputies and assistants as may be actually necessary to the proper conducting of the sheriff’s office.  T.C.A. § 8-20-101(a). Like other county officials, the sheriff may employ deputies and other staff under a letter of agreement or a court order. The sheriff must file a salary suit or enter into a letter of agreement. Doing nothing is not an option.

Reference Number: CTAS-1219

“[T]he sheriff has sole discretion to request the number of assistants he believes are ‘actually necessary to the proper conducting’ of his office, as well as the salaries he feels are necessary to attract and retain them.” Shelby County Deputy Sheriff's Ass'n v. Gilless, 972 S.W.2d 683, 686 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997).

If the sheriff chooses to petition a court for additional deputies or assistants or for greater salaries than the budget adopted by the county legislative body allows, the sheriff must file the petition with the state trial court exercising criminal jurisdiction in the county, either criminal court or circuit court. The petition or application for authority to appoint or employ one or more additional deputies or assistants must be heard and determined by a judge (or chancellor) serving the judicial district in which the petition or application is filed. Public Chapter 276 of the Acts of 2005.

The statutory scheme enacted by the General Assembly for staffing and compensating the sheriff’s office through a salary suit is clear. The sheriff must demonstrate that he or she cannot properly and efficiently conduct the affairs and transact the business of his or her office by devoting his or her entire working time thereto; and, the sheriff must show the necessity for the number of deputies and assistants required and the salary that should be paid each. Boarman v. Jaynes, 109 S.W.3d 286, 291 (Tenn. 2003). The sheriff is not required to demonstrate an inability to maintain his or her office by using the efforts of his or her staff as constituted and compensated at the time of the filing of the salary suit.  Boarman at 291. Once the necessity of employing deputies or assistants is established, the appropriate trial court is empowered to determine the number of deputies and assistants needed and their salaries. Id. T.C.A. § 8-20-101(a) and (a)(2). See also Shelby County Deputy Sheriffs' Ass'n v. Shelby County, 1998 WL 74314, *3 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1998) (The sheriff has an absolute right to petition the court pursuant to T.C.A. § 8-20-101.); Roberts v. Lowe, 1997 WL 189345 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997); Easterly v. Harmon, 1997 WL 718430 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997).

The petition must be filed by the sheriff within 30 days after the date of final adoption of the budget for the fiscal year. No order increasing expenditures shall be effective during any fiscal year if the petition is filed outside the 30-day window unless the order is entered into by agreement of the parties. Also, a new officeholder has 30 days from taking office to file a petition and any order entered with respect to such petition may be effective during the fiscal year in which the petition was filed. T.C.A. § 8-20-101(b).

In the petition, the sheriff must name the county mayor as the party defendant. The county mayor is required to file an answer within five days after service of the petition, either admitting or denying the allegations of the petition or making such answer as the county mayor deems advisable under the circumstances. The petition and the answer are to be docketed, filed, and kept as permanent records of the court. The court must promptly in term or at chambers have a hearing on the application, on the petition and the answer.  The court will develop the facts, and the court may hear proof either for or against the petition. The court may allow or disallow the application, either in whole or in part, and may allow the whole number of deputies or assistants applied for or a less number, and may allow the salaries set out in the application or smaller salaries, all as the facts justify.  T.C.A. § 8-20-102. See Moore v. Cates, 832 S.W.2d 570, 572 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1992) (These statutes do not authorize the Trial Court to identify deputies by name and award them salary increases for a fixed period in the nature of a judgment against the county. Rather, the Trial Judge under the statutes is limited to authorizing the required number of deputies and fixing salaries for the positions.); Roberts v. Lowe, 1997 WL 189345 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997).

The trial court does not have the authority to order retroactive pay for personnel hired by the sheriff prior to the filing of the petition to hire and employ deputies.

The only Tennessee decision directly addressing the question of whether a petition to employ and pay deputies may seek retroactive pay for deputies hired prior to the filing of the petition is State ex rel. Obion County v. Bond, 8 S.W.2d 367 (Tenn. 1928). In that case, the court interpreting the predecessor of T.C.A. § 8-20-101, The Public Acts of 1921, chapter 101, section 7, concluded that the intention of the legislature in enacting this legislation was to require the sheriff or other county official named in this statute to petition the appropriate court to hire additional deputies and for the amount of salary to be paid to the additional deputies in advance of the expenditures. Therefore, the court concluded that a petition to employ and pay deputies could not properly seek retroactive pay for deputies hired prior to the filing of the petition. Id. at 368. We believe that in light of this interpretation of the statute by the Tennessee Supreme Court, Sheriff Woods was not authorized to petition the Circuit Court at Henderson County for funds to pay the three additional deputies retroactively that he had hired eight months prior to filing the petition. Accordingly, we hold that the trial court erred in granting Sheriff Woods' petition insofar as the petition seeks funds retroactively to pay these three deputies.

Woods v. Smith, 1992 WL 151443 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1992). See also Roberts v. Lowe, 1997 WL 189345 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997) (T.C.A. § 8-20-101, et seq. (1993 & Supp. 1996), contains no provision for an award of retroactive raises, nor has Roberts cited any authority in his brief to support the trial court's action. We therefore conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in making the salaries effective retroactively.).

The order of the court is to be spread upon the minutes of the court and may from time to time, upon application, be amended or modified by increasing or decreasing the number of deputies and the salaries paid each. However, the sheriff may, without formal application to the court, decrease either the number of deputies or assistants and the salaries of any of them where the facts justify such course. T.C.A. § 8-20-104. See Moore v. Cates, 832 S.W.2d 570 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1992).

Either party dissatisfied with the decree or order of the court in the proceedings set out above has the right of appeal as in other cases. Pending the final disposition of the application to the court, or pending the final determination on appeal, the sheriff may appoint deputies or assistants to serve until the final determination of the case, who shall be paid according to the final judgment of the court. T.C.A. § 8-20-106.

The cost of the suit is paid out of the fees of the sheriff’s office. The sheriff is allowed a credit for the same in settlement with the county trustee. T.C.A. § 8-20-107. See Moore v. Cates, 832 S.W.2d 570, 572 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1992) (Finally, the judgment against the county for attorney's fees is not authorized. While the Trial Court would have jurisdiction to approve fees for the filing of the application, such fees could only be ordered paid out of the Sheriff's funds, with the proviso that he receive credit for such items of cost in his settlement with the trustee.).

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 8-20-105, it is the duty of the sheriff to reduce the number of deputies and assistants and the salaries paid them when it can be reasonably done. The court or judge having jurisdiction may, on motion of the county mayor and upon reasonable notice to the sheriff, have a hearing on the motion and may reduce the number of deputies or assistants and the salaries paid any one or more when the public good justifies.

FIELD DEPUTIES. Pursuant to T.C.A. § 8-20-103, if the sheriff cannot establish that he or she is unable to personally discharge the duties of the sheriff’s office by devoting his or her entire working time thereto, no deputy or deputies or assistants shall be allowed except for field deputy sheriffs. In addressing the former version of T.C.A. § 8-20-103, the Tennessee Court of Appeals noted that the “sheriff must apply to the court for the appointment of field deputy sheriffs, but need not show a necessity for their appointment.”  Carter v, Jett, 370 S.W.2d 576, 581 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1963).

Neither the current nor former version of T.C.A. § 8-20-103 define the term “field deputy sheriffs.” However, the former version of the code, T.C.A. § 8-2003, stated that “the sheriff in each county may appoint all necessary field deputies for misdemeanor and criminal work and civil work before the justices of the peace; said field deputies to be appointed as provided under §§ 8-2001 and 8-2002. And in Jones v. Mankin, 1989 WL 44924 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1989), the court, in addressing the provisions of T.C.A. 8-20-103, refers to field deputies as patrol deputies. Recent appellate court cases dealing with salary suits filed by sheriffs have overlooked or failed to address the clear and unambiguous language of T.C.A. § 8-20-103, which does not require the sheriff to demonstrate an inability to discharge the duties of his or her office by devoting his or her entire working time thereto before the court is authorized to award the sheriff additional field deputies, and instead have focused on the language of T.C.A. § 8-20-101 which does require the sheriff to meet the aforementioned threshold showing before the court is authorized to award the sheriff additional field deputy sheriffs.

Reference Number: CTAS-1222

In 1993, the General Assembly amended T.C.A. § 8-20-101, adding the language that is now codified in subsection (c), in order to provide county elected officials with an alternate method of obtaining the authority to employ and compensate personnel. If the sheriff agrees with the number of deputies and assistants and the compensation and expenses related thereto, as set forth in the budget adopted by the county legislative body, a court order is not necessary. Instead of filing a petition in court, the sheriff can enter into a letter of agreement with the county mayor using a form prepared by the comptroller of the treasury, setting forth the fact that they have reached an understanding in this regard. The letter is then filed with the court. Sheriffs must file their letters of agreement with the circuit court except in counties where criminal courts are established, in which case the sheriff must file the letter of agreement with the criminal court. T.C.A. § 8-20-101(c)(1) and (c)(2). Comptroller's form for Letter of Agreement.

Reference Number: CTAS-1223

The county legislative body is required by law to fund authorized expenses fixed by law for the operation of the sheriff's office, including the salary of all the sheriff's deputies. T.C.A. § 8-24-103(a)(1). State ex rel. Ledbetter v. Duncan, 702 S.W.2d 163, 165 (Tenn. 1985) (We hold that the provision requires the county legislative body to fully fund the salaries of all deputies as set by the circuit or criminal court pursuant to T.C.A. Chapter 20 of Title 8.). The county legislative body may not adopt a budget that reduces below current levels the salaries and number of employees in the sheriff's office without the sheriff's consent. In the event the county legislative body fails to budget any salary expenditure that is a necessity for the discharge of the statutorily mandated duties of the sheriff, the sheriff may seek a writ of mandamus to compel such appropriation. T.C.A. § 8-20-120. The writ of mandamus authorized by T.C.A. § 8-20-120 “is the same writ that has been recognized by the courts for many years. It can only be sought after the sheriff has gone through the local budget process and the application procedure required by” T.C.A. § 8-20-101(a)(2). Jones v. Mankin, 1989 WL 44924, *3 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1989) (If the county legislative body refuses to appropriate the funds required by the court's order, the sheriff may seek a writ of mandamus to compel it to do so.). See also State ex rel. Ledbetter v. Duncan, 702 S.W.2d 163, 165 (Tenn. 1985); Sapp v. State ex rel. Nipper, 524 S.W.2d 652, 653-54 (Tenn. 1975); Atkinson v. McClanahan, 520 S.W.2d 348, 353 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1974) (It would seem to us that the remedy of the sheriff, in the event the decree of the Circuit Judge becomes final and is not carried out and its implementation refused, would be to file a bill for mandamus.); Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. 04-104 (July 2, 2004).

Reference Number: CTAS-1224

The sheriff may terminate, at will, any and all deputies and assistants in his or her office.  T.C.A. § 8-20-109. However, in any county having a civil service system for the sheriff's office pursuant to Title 8, Chapter 8, Part 4, or other provision of general law or the provisions of a private act, or a civil service system for all county employees pursuant to the provisions of a private act, the employment or termination of employment of any deputy or assistant in any offices covered by Title 8, Chapter 20 shall be pursuant to the provisions of such civil service system. The provisions of T.C.A. § 8-20-109 do not apply to counties with civil service. T.C.A. § 8-20-112. See Patterson v. Rout, 2002 WL 1592674 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2002).

Patronage Dismissals

A sheriff may not dismiss a nonpolicymaking employee for political reasons.  Such an unlawful firing may subject the sheriff and the county to liability under the federal civil rights laws.

At the same time that the [United States Supreme] Court has held that "the practice of patronage dismissals is unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments," Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 373, 96 S.Ct. 2673, 49 L.Ed.2d 547 (1976), it has held that this protection does not extend to public employees who occupy "policymaking" positions in the government, id. at 367; see also Rutan v. Republican Party, 497 U.S. 62, 110 S.Ct. 2729, 111 L.Ed.2d 52 (1990) (extending Elrod' s reasoning to promotions and demotions). Where the effective performance of a particular office demands affiliation with a particular party or subscription to a particular policy, the Constitution permits dismissal based on political grounds. See Branti v. Finkel, 445 U.S. 507, 518, 100 S.Ct. 1287, 63 L.Ed.2d 574 (1980).

Cagle v. Headley, 2005 WL 2108367, *2 (6th Cir. 2005). See also Garvey v. Montgomery, 128 Fed.Appx. 453, 463 (6th Cir. 2005) (The First Amendment protection against political discharges does not extend to public employees who hold positions in which "an employee's private political beliefs would interfere with the discharge of his public duties."  This principle is known as the Branti/Elrod exception to the general rule that public employees may not be discharged on account of their political affiliations.); Justice v. Pike County Bd. of Educ., 348 F.3d 554, 559 (6th Cir. 2003) ("Limiting patronage dismissals to policymaking positions is sufficient to achieve the valid governmental objective of preventing holdover employees from undermining the ability of a new administration to implement its policies." Id. In contrast, " '[n]onpolicymaking individuals usually have only limited responsibilities and are therefore not in a position to thwart the goals of the in-party.'") (citations omitted).

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has held “that a deputy sheriff does not fall within the policymaking exception where ‘the position of deputy sheriff was at the bottom of the chain of command in the [department],’ the primary duty of the deputy sheriff was ‘to patrol the roads of the county’ and the record did not indicate that the deputy had ‘the amount of discretion or policymaking authority[ ] that would make political affiliation an appropriate requirement for employment.’" Cagle at *3 (6th Cir. 2005) quoting Hall v. Tollett, 128 F.3d 418, 429 (6th Cir. 1997). See also Heggen v. Lee, 284 F.3d 675, 684 (6th Cir. 2002) (noting that serving civil and arrest warrants, transporting prisoners and providing courtroom security did not make a deputy sheriff a policymaker); Sowards v. Loudon County, 203 F.3d 426, 438 (jailer was not a policymaker where her duties included "providing for the needs and safety of the jail's inmates, such as providing food, bedding, and support for the inmates, taking precautions to ensure their safety, and arranging communications between inmates and the public"); Ruffino v. Sheahan, 218 F.3d 697, 700 (7th Cir. 2000) (“We note as well that it would be a remarkable extension of the policymaker line of cases to hold that the hundreds of deputy sheriffs in Cook County are all policymakers, for whom the Sheriff has a legitimate interest in insisting on personal and political loyalty.”).

By contrast, the Court has held that the position of a chief deputy does qualify as a policymaking position where the employee "assumed the sheriff's duties in the sheriff's absence, supervised the deputies, scheduled their shifts, and recommended employees for dismissal to the sheriff." Hall v. Tollett, 128 F.3d 418, 425 - 426 & n. 4 (6th Cir. 1997). “A sheriff, no less than a governor, is ‘entitled to select a person whom he kn[ows] to share his political beliefs to occupy a position with such high levels of discretion and policymaking authority.’” Cagle at *4 quoting Hall at 426. In Cagle, the Court found that the position of lieutenant in the sheriff’s office qualified as a policymaking position and held that “political affiliation” was an appropriate requirement for employment where the employee attended weekly and often confidential meetings, possessed the authority to discipline other employees and had managerial power over a division. Cagle at *4. The Court noted that although lieutenants in the sheriff’s office were required to handle pedestrian tasks as well as substantial ones and that they were required to "pursue the goals and objectives" of the sheriff, these facts did not prevent their position from being a policymaking one. See also Garvey v. Montgomery, 128 Fed.Appx. 453, 463 (6th Cir. 2005) (Former county employee's position of administrative officer was one in which an employee's private political beliefs would interfere with the discharge of his public duties, and thus, the First Amendment protection against political discharges did not extend to the employee); Fuerst v. Clarke, 389 F.Supp.2d 1042 (E.D. Wis. 2005) (Promotion to sergeant sought by deputy sheriff was for a policymaking position exempt from First Amendment protections, and thus deputy sheriff could not maintain claim against county sheriff, alleging retaliatory failure to promote due to deputy's political activities; sergeants in position at issue worked autonomously and operated with some discretion when performing their duties and had meaningful input into implementation of department policy.).

Reference Number: CTAS-1225

A deputy sheriff may be deemed a full-time police officer under the laws pertaining to peace officers. “Full-time police officer” means any person employed by any municipality or political subdivision of the state of Tennessee whose primary responsibility is to prevent and detect crime and to apprehend offenders, and whose primary source of income is derived from employment as a police officer. T.C.A. § 38-8-101(1). See Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 85-224 (July 30, 1985).

Reference Number: CTAS-1226

After July 1, 1981, any person employed as a full-time deputy sheriff shall:

  1. Be at least 18 years of age;
  2. Be a citizen of the United States;
  3. Be a high school graduate or possess its equivalency which shall include a general educational development (GED(R)) certificate;
  4. Not have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to or entered a plea of nolo contendere to any felony charge or to any violation of any federal or state laws or city ordinances relating to force, violence, theft, dishonesty, gambling, liquor, controlled substances or controlled substance analogues;
  5. Not have been released or discharged under any other than honorable discharge from any of the armed forces of the United States;
  6. Have their fingerprints on file with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation;
  7. Have passed a physical examination by a licensed physician;
  8. Have a good moral character as determined by a thorough investigation conducted by the employing agency; and
  9. Have been certified by a Tennessee licensed health care provider qualified in the psychiatric or psychological field as being free from any impairment, as set forth in the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association at the time of the examination, that would, in the professional judgment of the examiner, affect the applicant's ability to perform an essential function of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation.

T.C.A. § 38-8-106. See also Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-2-.03 (1).

The minimum standards set forth in T.C.A. § 38-8-106 and in Rule 1110-2-.03 (1) are mandatory and are binding upon the county. Any person who appoints an applicant, who, to the knowledge of the appointor, fails to meet the minimum standards as set forth in T.C.A. § 38-8-106 and in Rule 1110-2-.03 (1), and any person who signs the warrant or check for payment of salary of a person who, to the knowledge of the signer, fails to meet the qualifications as a deputy sheriff as provided in T.C.A. § 38-8-106 and in Rule 1110-2-.03 (1), commits a Class A misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be subject to a fine not exceeding $1,000. T.C.A. § 38-8-105(a) and (b). This provision does not apply to any officer hired by a county prior to July 1, 1982. T.C.A. § 38-8-105(c). See also Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-2-.01 and Rule 1110-2-.02. Nothing in Title 38, Chapter 8, precludes an employing agency from establishing qualifications and standards for hiring and training deputy sheriffs that exceed those set by the POST Commission. T.C.A. § 38-8-109.

Reference Number: CTAS-1227

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 38-8-107, all deputy sheriffs employed after July 1, 1983, must successfully complete recruit training within one year of the date of their employment. However, pursuant to POST rules, any officer seeking certification under the POST rules must satisfactorily complete the basic course within six months of initial employment as a law enforcement officer. During this initial six-month period prior to attending the basic course, the recruit must be paired with a field training officer or other certified senior officer. Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-2-.03 (3).

The POST Commission will issue a certificate of compliance to any person who meets the qualifications for employment and satisfactorily completes an approved recruit training program. The commission may issue a certificate to any person who has received training in another state provided that the commission makes a determination that the training was at least equivalent to that required by the commission for approved police education and training programs in this state. In addition, the person seeking certification must satisfactorily comply with all of the other requirements of Title 38, Chapter 8.  T.C.A. § 38-8-107. See also Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-2-.03 (1).

Reference Number: CTAS-1228

There is no general law requirement that regular deputy sheriffs be bonded. However, in 2013, the Legislature amended T.C.A. § 8-19-101 to require county governments to obtain and maintain blanket surety bond coverage for all county employees not covered by individual bonds referenced elsewhere in statute. The minimum amount of such blanket bonds is one hundred fifty thousand dollars. T.C.A. § 8-19-101(e).

Reference Number: CTAS-1229

All deputy sheriffs, except those who have attended the Basic Law Enforcement School within the calendar year must successfully complete a POST-approved 40-hour in-service training session appropriate for their rank and responsibilities each calendar year. The failure of an individual deputy to successfully complete the annual in-service training requirement will result in the deputy's loss of eligibility for the pay supplement provided for in T.C.A. § 38-8-111. The failure of this individual deputy to successfully complete another in-service training session within one year will result in the loss of that deputy’s certification. Each sheriff’s office participating in the POST Commission's training program must file a letter of intent with the commission stating its commitment to mandatory training for all law enforcement officers. The failure of several deputies from one sheriff’s office will be cause for the commission to examine that sheriff’s office training policy and may result in the office being declared out of compliance with state standards and thereby not eligible to participate in the commission's training programs at no cost. Any travel expense is the responsibility of the individual sheriff’s office. T.C.A. § 38-8-107; Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-4-.01 (1) and Rule 1110-4-.12.

Certified or recognized courses must be at least 40 hours in duration and established by the sheriff’s office to meet the educational requirements normal to the deputy’s position and responsibility in accord with the course curriculum requirements established by the POST Commission. Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-4-.01 (2). Each in-service training session must include at least eight hours of firearms training requalification with the deputy’s service handgun and any other firearm authorized by the sheriff’s office.  Each deputy must score at least 75 percent to qualify.  Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-4-.02.  Each in-service training session must also include training in child sexual abuse. This training is mandatory for a deputy to be eligible for the salary supplement authorized in T.C.A. § 38-8-111. T.C.A. § 37-1-603(b)(4)(B); Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-4-.05 (4). In addition, pursuant to Public Chapter 243 of the Acts of 2005, each deputy who operates an emergency vehicle must receive no less than two hours of annual training and pass a comprehensive examination covering all applicable laws pertaining to emergency vehicles, the operation of the vehicle in emergency and nonemergency situations, and response to actions of nonemergency vehicles. Each deputy must obtain a passing grade of at least 75 percent on all tests, 75 percent on the firearms qualification,  and 75 percent on the defensive driving qualification. The in-service training session is not complete until the officer has taken the test and qualified with his firearm. Any deputy who fails the test or firearms or driving qualification must make up the failing score during the calendar year in order to keep their certification. Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-4-.12.

Attendance records must be maintained on each deputy and must be submitted to the POST Commission. An attendance roster listing the names of all deputies attending a scheduled block of training on a particular day must be maintained and kept on file by the sheriff’s office. The sheriff and the instructor must certify to the POST Commission those deputies who successfully complete the in-service training. The certification must include the name of the reporting sheriff’s office and the name, rank, and Social Security number of each deputy along with their test scores and firearm qualification score. Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-4-.06.

If a deputy attends a specialized school appropriate to his or her rank and responsibility, the eligibility of the school must be approved by the commission. Only schools of a law enforcement related nature will be considered for in-service credit toward meeting the 40  hour training requirement. A curriculum of each school and proof of successful completion by the individual attendee is required. See Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-4-.09.

Any deputy who successfully completes a law enforcement course at any accredited institution of higher education, college, or university may be considered for annual fulfillment of all or a portion of the required 40 hours in-service credit hours, not including firearms training. See Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-4-.11.

Requests for waivers of in-service training for a calendar year on the basis of medical disability must be submitted to the POST Commission by the chief administrative officer of the sheriff’s office explaining the individual case. A doctor’s statement must accompany the request. Each request will be considered individually. Requests for the waiver of in-service training for a calendar year on the basis that a deputy will retire during that year must be submitted by the deputy to his or her chief administrative officer stating the intention to retire prior to completion of in-service training for the calendar year. If the request is approved by the sheriff’s office, then a letter must be forwarded to the POST Commission for approval. Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-4-.10.

Reference Number: CTAS-1230

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 39-17-1315(a)(1), the sheriff has the authority to authorize the carry of handguns by bonded and sworn deputy sheriffs who have successfully completed and continue to successfully complete on an annual basis a firearm training program of at least eight hours duration. The sheriff’s authorization must be made by a written directive, a copy of which must be  retained by the sheriff’s office.  Pursuant to the sheriff’s written directive, POST certified deputy sheriffs may carry their handgun at all times, regardless of the deputy’s regular duty hours or assignments.  Nothing in T.C.A. § 39-17-1315(a)(1) prohibits the sheriff from placing restrictions on when or where a deputy may carry his or her service handgun. See also Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 99-024 (February 16, 1999).

POST-certified deputy sheriffs and commissioned reserve deputy sheriffs may carry firearms at all times and in all places within Tennessee, on-duty or off-duty, regardless of the deputy’s regular duty hours or assignments except as provided by T.C.A. § 39-17-1350(c), federal law, lawful orders of court or the written directive of the sheriff. T.C.A. § 39-17-1350(a) and (d).

The authority conferred by T.C.A. § 39-17-1350 does not extend to a deputy sheriff or commissioned reserve deputy sheriff:

  1. Who is not engaged in the actual discharge of official duties as a law enforcement officer and carries a firearm onto school grounds or inside a school building during regular school hours unless the officer immediately informs the principal that the officer will be present on school grounds or inside the school building and in possession of a firearm. If the principal is unavailable, the notice may be given to an appropriate administrative staff person in the principal's office;
  2. Who is consuming beer or an alcoholic beverage or who is under the influence of beer, an alcoholic beverage, or a controlled substance or controlled substance analogue; or
  3. Who is not engaged in the actual discharge of official duties as a law enforcement officer while attending a judicial proceeding.

T.C.A. § 39-17-1350(c). See Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 10-111 (November 3, 2010). See also T.C.A. § 39-17-1321 prohibiting the possession of a handgun while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance or controlled substance analogue.

Finally, T.C.A. §§ 39-17-1315(b)(2) and 39-17-1359 authorize private entities and governmental entities to prohibit the possession of weapons by any person at meetings conducted by, or on premises owned, operated, managed or under the control of the private entity or governmental entity. Notice of such prohibition must be posted and must be displayed in prominent locations. The attorney general has opined that T.C.A. § 39-17-1359 does not allow private entities or governmental entities to prohibit the possession of weapons by law enforcement officers on their property. The Attorney General has also opined that T.C.A. § 39-17-1315(b)(2) does not allow private entities or governmental entities to prohibit the possession of weapons by state law enforcement officers or POST- certified local law enforcement officers on their property. See Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 00-161 (October 17, 2000). Based upon the attorney general’s reasoning, T.C.A. § 39-17-1315(b)(2) does allow private entities or governmental entities to prohibit the possession of weapons by off-duty non-POST certified local law enforcement officers (i.e., reserve, auxiliary, part-time and temporary deputy sheriffs and police officers) on their property.

Reference Number: CTAS-1231

Every county that requires all deputy sheriffs to complete an annual 40-hour in-service training course appropriate to the deputy's rank and responsibility at a school certified or recognized by the POST Commission is entitled to receive 5 percent of each qualified deputy's annual salary, but not more than $600 for any one deputy in any one year, from the commission to be paid to each deputy in addition to the deputy's regular salary. In the event that 5 percent of a qualified deputy's annual salary does not amount to $600, the deputy is nevertheless entitled to receive the full amount of $600 as is any other qualified deputy, subject only to the specific appropriation of funds in the general appropriations act for the purpose of implementing the provisions of Title 38, Chapter 8. T.C.A. §§ 38-8-111(a)(1) and 38-8-111(c); Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-6-.01. Carter v. McWherter, 859 S.W.2d 343 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1993).

To be eligible to receive the salary supplement, a deputy sheriff must successfully complete 40 hours of in-service training during the calendar year. A deputy who has not completed eight months of full-time service during the calendar year is not eligible to receive the salary supplement except in the case of the deputy’s death, retirement, or medical disability provided that the 40 hours of in-service training was completed prior to the death, retirement, or medical disability. Upon the submission of the proper documentation by a deputy, the commission will include time spent in active military service when calculating the required eight months of full-time service. Deputies who attend the Basic Law Enforcement School are not eligible to receive the salary supplement during that calendar year and are not required to attend in-service training during that year. These deputies are eligible to receive the salary supplement the following calendar year after successfully completing 40 hours of in-service training. Deputies terminated for cause or decertified during the calendar year are not eligible to receive the salary supplement. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, rule or regulation to the contrary, any deputy sheriff who served or serves on active duty in the armed forces of the United States during Operation Enduring Freedom or any other period of armed conflict prescribed by presidential proclamation or federal law that occurs following the period of Operation Enduring Freedom will receive the cash salary supplement if his or her service prevented or prevents attending the in-service training program. T.C.A. § 38-8-111(a)(2) and (a)(3); Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-6-.02.

POST Commission funds made available to the county under T.C.A. § 38-8-111(a) and (b) must be received, held and expended in accordance with the provisions of T.C.A. § 38-8-111(a)-(c), the rules and regulations issued by the commission, and the following specific restrictions:

  1. Funds provided shall be used only as a cash salary supplement to deputy sheriffs;
  2. Each deputy sheriff shall be entitled to receive the state supplement which the deputy's qualifications brought to the county;
  3. Funds provided shall not be used to supplant existing salaries or as substitutes for normal salary increases periodically due to deputy sheriffs; and
  4. The cash salary supplement shall be considered as a bonus for the successful completion of training and shall not be considered as salary for subsequent years' determination of supplement or retirement purposes.

T.C.A. § 38-8-111(b). See also Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-6-.03. All accounts are subject to audit by the state comptroller, and all records pertaining to salary supplements are subject to inspection by personnel of the POST Commission. Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-6-.04.

Reference Number: CTAS-1232

There is no statute or rule of law in this state that places a mandatory duty upon police officers to keep the peace when "off duty."  “To the contrary, when officers are ‘off duty,’ our statutes generally treat the officer as an ordinary private citizen and not as an agent or employee of the municipal police department under a general duty to keep the peace.” White v. Revco Discount Drug Centers, Inc., 33 S.W.3d 713, 720-721 (Tenn. 2000). “Of course, to say that officers do not continuously function in an official capacity is not to say that off-duty officers are prevented from assuming a duty to remedy a breach of the peace, or that officers are incapable of being summoned to official duty by the municipality. Nevertheless, it is clear that officers are not under a general duty to enforce the law while ‘off duty,’ and a blanket rule declaring that police officers are under a never-ending duty to keep the peace is contrary to existing Tennessee law.” Id. at 721.

Reference Number: CTAS-1233

The current state of the law regarding off-duty employment by law enforcement officers indicates that law enforcement agencies may constitutionally restrict or prohibit their law enforcement officers from engaging in secondary employment during off-duty time if, at the time in question, the agency had a clear policy restricting or prohibiting such employment and if the agency can articulate how its policy is rationally related to a legitimate government interest (the "rational basis" test). Courts treat cases involving the issue of secondary employment of law enforcement officers on a case-by-case basis. However, generally speaking, if the two requirements stated above are met, courts have upheld restrictions or even prohibitions on secondary employment set by law enforcement agencies. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 01-075 (May 8, 2001).

In two cases, the plaintiffs had worked in the outside employment positions before that employment was prohibited by the public employer, “yet the courts nevertheless held that the plaintiffs' due process rights were not violated by the prohibition.” Allen v. Miami-Dade County, 2002 WL 732108, *3 (S.D. Fla. 2002) citing Ammon v. City of Coatesville, 1987 WL 15032, *4 (E.D. Pa.) and Ft. Wayne Patrolmen's Ben. Assoc. v. City of Ft. Wayne, 625 F.Supp. 722, 730 (N.D. Ind. 1986). See also Shelby County Deputy Sheriffs' Ass'n v. Gilless, 2003 WL 21206067 (6th Cir. 2003) (Sheriff’s regulation prohibiting full-time deputy sheriffs from wearing uniform while performing off-duty work was not unconstitutional.); Campbell v. City of Fort Worth, 69 Fed.Appx. 657 (5th Cir. 2003) (Prohibition on off-duty work by a suspended police officer did not infringe on any interest protected by the Due Process Clause.); Davis v. Carey, 63 F.Supp.2d 361 (S.D. N.Y. 1999) (The regulation of police officers' off-duty employment is commonplace and lawful.); McEvoy v. Spencer, 49 F.Supp.2d 224, 227 (S.D. N.Y. 1999) (holding that "plaintiff does not have any interest of constitutional dimension in being a private investigator in his off-duty hours" and therefore dismissing the plaintiff's due process claim); Puckett v. Miller, 821 S.W.2d 791 (Ky. 1991) (It is widely recognized that the rights of public employees may be abridged in the interest of preventing conflicts with official duties or promoting some legitimate interest of the governmental employer.); Decker v. City of Hampton, 741 F.Supp. 1223 (E.D. Va. 1990) (City police department regulation limiting types of off-duty work in which officers could engage did not deny due process to police detective who wanted to moonlight as private investigator.); Bowman v. Township of Pennsauken, 709 F.Supp. 1329 (D. N.J. 1989) (While it may be true that economic factors have forced police officers into the practice of moonlighting, a township has a legitimate interest in regulating its police department, including the off-duty activities of its officers.  It is clear that such goals as reducing mental and physical fatigue, limiting litigation and lessening liability insurance expenses serve as legitimate government interests supporting regulation. Because of these legitimate goals, it is also clear that a municipality can regulate and even prohibit off-duty work.) (citations omitted); Ammon v. City of Coatesville, 1987 WL 15032 (E.D. Pa.), aff'd 838 F.2d 1205 (3d Cir. 1988) (The majority of courts considering the validity of regulations that in someway restrict the outside employment of government employees have upheld the regulations.); Allison v. Southfield, 432 N.W.2d 369 (Mich. 1988) (holding that secondary employment rule was not void for vagueness and did not violate due process or equal protection, where police officers were unambiguously prohibited from secondary employment unless prior approval had been obtained); Rhodes v. Smith, 254 S.E.2d 49 (S.C. 1979) (Regulations prohibiting all outside employment have been upheld.).

“[P]rivate employers may be held vicariously liable for the acts of an off-duty police officer employed as a private security guard under any of the following circumstances: (1) the action taken by the off-duty officer occurred within the scope of private employment; (2) the action taken by the off-duty officer occurred outside of the regular scope of employment, if the action giving rise to the tort was taken in obedience to orders or directions of the employer and the harm proximately resulted from the order or direction; or (3) the action was taken by the officer with the consent or ratification of the private employer and with an intent to benefit the private employer.” White v. Revco Discount Drug Centers, Inc., 33 S.W.3d 713, 724 (Tenn. 2000).

Reference Number: CTAS-1234

Reserve, auxiliary, part-time and temporary deputy sheriff means any person employed by the county whose primary responsibility is to support the sheriff in preventing and detecting crime, apprehending offenders, and assisting in the prosecution of offenders for appropriate remuneration in measure with specifically assigned duties or job description.  These deputies may not work more than 20 hours per week for a total of not more than 100 hours per month. Any deputy who works in excess of the prescribed maximum hours must be reclassified to full-time status and must meet all the requirements for standards and training as mandated under the law and the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission rules. In any situation where a deputy is assigned temporarily for a period of one month or less to work more than 20 hours per week for a total of not more than 100 hours per month, the deputy does not need to be reclassified to full-time status. T.C.A. § 38-8-101(2); Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-8-.01.

Minimum Qualifications

After January 1, 1989, any person employed or used as a reserve, auxiliary, part-time or temporary deputy sheriff shall have the same minimum qualifications as a full-time deputy sheriff. T.C.A. § 38-8-106; Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-8-.02.

Reserve, auxiliary, part-time or temporary deputy sheriffs who were employed prior to January 1, 1989, and have had continuous service are exempt from the pre-employment requirements as long as they remain on active service with the sheriff’s office that originally employed them. Any reserve, auxiliary, part-time or temporary deputy sheriff who has a break in service of any length whatsoever is required to meet the pre-employment and training standards. Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-8-.02..

The minimum standards set forth in T.C.A. § 38-8-106 and in Rule 1110-8-.02 are mandatory and are binding upon the county.  Any person who appoints an applicant who, to the knowledge of the appointor, fails to meet the minimum standards as set forth in T.C.A. § 38-8-106 and in Rule 1110-8-.02, and any person who signs the warrant or check for payment of the salary of a person who, to the knowledge of the signer, fails to meet the qualifications as a reserve, auxiliary, part-time or temporary deputy sheriff as provided in T.C.A. § 38-8-106 and in Rule 1110-8-.02, commits a Class A misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be subject to a fine not exceeding $1,000. T.C.A. § 38-8-105(a) and (b). Nothing in Title 38, Chapter 8, precludes an employing agency from establishing qualifications and standards for hiring and training reserve, auxiliary, part-time or temporary deputy sheriffs that exceed those set by the POST Commission. T.C.A. § 38-8-109.

Training Requirements

After January 1, 1989, any person newly employed or used as a reserve, auxiliary, part-time or temporary deputy sheriff must receive 80 hours of training in whatever duties they are required by the sheriff’s office to perform. This training must be accomplished during the first calendar year of employment. During this initial period, prior to receiving 80 hours of training, the part-time/temporary/reserve/auxiliary law enforcement officer must be paired with a field training officer or other certified officer. Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-8-.03.

Oath

Reserve, auxiliary, part-time and temporary deputy sheriffs must take the same oaths as the sheriff, which are certified, filed, and endorsed in the same manner as the sheriff’s. T.C.A. § 8-18-112. Oaths are covered under the General Information tab of the County Offices topic.

Bond

There is no general law requirement that reserve, auxiliary, part-time or temporary deputy sheriffs be bonded. However, in 2013, the Legislature amended T.C.A. § 8-19-101 to require county governments to obtain and maintain blanket surety bond coverage for all county employees not covered by individual bonds referenced elsewhere in statute. The minimum amount of such blanket bonds is one hundred fifty thousand dollars. T.C.A. § 8-19-101(e).

In-Service Training Requirements

After the initial training has been completed, all reserve, auxiliary, part-time and temporary deputy sheriffs are required to attend 40 hours of in-service training each calendar year. This training may be spread over a 12-month period, but must be completed during the calendar year.  Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-8-.04.

Reference Number: CTAS-1235

On urgent occasions, or when required for particular purposes, the sheriff may appoint as many special deputies as the sheriff deems proper. T.C.A. § 8-8-212(a). See General Truck Sales, Inc. v. Simmons, 343 S.W.2d 884 (Tenn. 1961) (“This clearly gives the Sheriff the right, when in his judgment it is necessary, to appoint a Special Deputy for any particular occasion”.). See also Reves v. State, 79 Tenn. 124, (1883) (“The act of 1870 shows a change of policy by the State, for the sheriff is thereby authorized to appoint as many regular deputies as he pleases, and special deputies on urgent occasions, of which he alone is to judge, ‘or when required for particular purposes.’”); State v. Kizer, 36 Tenn. 563 (1857) (“...it is not necessary, to make a valid deputation, that it should appear in the endorsement of the sheriff that an ‘urgent occasion’ existed, but that will be presumed.”).

Special deputy means any person who is assigned specific police functions as to the prevention and detection of crime and general laws of this state on a volunteer basis, whether working alone or with other deputies. A special deputy working on a volunteer basis does not receive pay or benefits, except for honoraria, and may be used for an unlimited number of hours. T.C.A. § 38-8-101(3); Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-8-.01.

Minimum Qualifications

After January 1, 1989, any person employed or used as a special deputy shall have the same minimum qualifications as a full-time deputy sheriff. T.C.A. § 38-8-106; Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-8-.02.

Special deputies who were employed prior to January 1, 1989, and have had continuous service are exempt from the pre-employment requirements as long as they remain on active service with the sheriff’s office that originally employed them. Any special  deputy who has a break in service of any length whatsoever is required to meet the pre-employment and training standards. Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-8-.02.

The minimum standards set forth in T.C.A. § 38-8-106 and in Rule 1110-8-.02 are mandatory and are binding upon the county. Any person who appoints an applicant who, to the knowledge of the appointor, fails to meet the minimum standards as set forth in T.C.A. § 38-8-106 and in Rule 1110-8-.02, and any person who signs the warrant or check for payment of the salary of a person who, to the knowledge of the signer, fails to meet the qualifications as a special deputy as provided in T.C.A. § 38-8-106 and in Rule 1110-8-.02, commits a Class A misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be subject to a fine not exceeding $1,000. T.C.A. § 38-8-105(a) and (b). Nothing in Title 38, Chapter 8 precludes an employing agency from establishing qualifications and standards for hiring and training special deputies that exceed those set by the POST Commission. T.C.A. § 38-8-109.

Training Requirements

After January 1, 1989, any person newly employed or used as a special deputy must receive 80 hours of training in whatever duties they are required by the sheriff’s office to perform. This training must be accomplished during the first calendar year of employment. Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-8-.03.

Oath

Special deputies must take the same oaths as the sheriff, which are certified, filed, and endorsed in the same manner as the sheriff’s.T.C.A. § 8-18-112. Oaths are covered under the General Information tab of the County Offices topic.

Bond

No person may serve as a special deputy unless that person proves to the appointing sheriff financial responsibility, as evidenced by a corporate surety bond in no less amount than $50,000 or by a liability insurance policy of the employer in no less amount than $50,000. T.C.A. § 8-8-303(c). “The purpose of this provision is to protect third parties who may be injured by the special deputy.” State v. Epps, 1989 WL 28906 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1989). Anyone incurring any wrong, injury, loss, damage, or expense resulting from any act or failure to act on the part of any special deputy appointed by the sheriff but not employed by the sheriff or the county may not bring suit against the sheriff or the county. The sheriff and county are immune from such suits. See Hensley v. Fowler, 920 S.W.2d 649 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1995). The plaintiff must proceed against the special deputy or the employer or employers of the special deputy, whether the special deputy is acting within the scope of employment or not. T.C.A. § 8-8-303(b). See Hensley v. Harbin, 782 S.W.2d 480 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1989) (wrongful death action brought against special deputy).

In-Service Training Requirements .

After the initial training has been completed, all special deputies are required to attend 40 hours of in-service training each calendar year. This training may be spread over a 12-month period but must be completed during the calendar year. Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-8-.04.

Reference Number: CTAS-1236

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 8-22-110(b), the sheriff is authorized to make emergency appointments of special deputies when there is an immediate need for an additional number of deputies to deal efficiently with an emergency situation, such as in the case of a strike, riot, putting down a mob, or other like emergencies.

Oath

Special deputies appointed pursuant to T.C.A. § 8-22-110(b) are not required to take an oath. T.C.A. § 8-18-112.

Limited Appointment

Special deputies appointed under T.C.A. § 8-22-110 may serve only during the term of the emergency.

Payment Authorized

Once the emergency is over, the sheriff is required to make an itemized statement showing the services of the deputies and the time during which the special deputies served. The itemized statement must be presented to the county mayor for auditing and allowance.  The mayor is required to authorize payment of the claims once the mayor is satisfied with the justness of the claims provided that no special deputy appointed by the sheriff may receive more than $4 per day for services actually performed.

Reference Number: CTAS-1237

Except in Davidson County, it is the duty of the sheriff to attend upon all the courts held in the county when in session. T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(2). And, unless otherwise provided, it is the duty of the sheriff in every county to provide sufficient bailiffs to serve the general sessions courts. T.C.A. § 16-15-715. Taylor v. Wilson County, 216 S.W.2d 717 (Tenn. 1949) (Sheriff of Wilson County had statutory duty to wait on the general sessions court for Wilson County, and he had the right to collect the compensation provided for by general law for performing required duty of attending the court for a substantial portion of a day.); Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 05-026 (March 21, 2005) (The sheriff has the duty to appoint court officers for general sessions courts except in municipalities with a metropolitan form of government and a population of more than 450,000.). Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 92-55 (Oct. 6, 1992) (It is the sheriff's responsibility to assign deputies to wait upon the courts. The judge cannot, however, order the sheriff to assign specific personnel to the courtroom.). Furthermore, it is the duty of the sheriff to furnish the necessary deputies and special deputies to attend and dispense with the business of the juvenile courts. T.C.A. § 37-1-213. Accordingly, the sheriff is authorized to employ deputies to carry out these functions. Jones v. Mankin, 1989 WL 44924, *9 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1989).

Beginning July 1, 2008, deputy sheriffs newly assigned to courts pursuant to T.C.A. §§ 8-8-201(a)(2)(A), 16-15-715, and 37-1-213 shall participate in forty hours of basic training in courthouse security within twelve months of assignment to that duty. Every year thereafter the deputies shall participate in a minimum of sixteen hours of training specific to courthouse security that has been approved by the peace officers standards and training commission. T.C.A. § 5-7-108(a)(2).

The Attorney General has opined that all bailiffs and court officers must be certified by the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST). The Attorney General noted that sheriffs are peace officers who are under a duty, among other things, to provide courtroom security, attend to the courts, and obey the lawful orders and directives of the courts. Deputy sheriffs, likewise, are required to be certified as peace officers within one year of employment. Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 38-8-102 to 122. As with sheriffs, the Legislature has imposed training requirements for deputy sheriffs who serve as bailiffs. Op. Tenn. Att'y Gen. 12-32 (March 9, 2012).

The Attorney General noted that reading T.C.A. §§ 5-7-108(a)(2), 8-8-201(a)(2)(A) and 38-8-102 to 122 in pari materia confirms that the Legislature intended to impose certification and training requirements upon the persons a sheriff assigns to serve as bailiffs and court officers. As this Office previously opined, to construe such statutes as authorizing a sheriff to circumvent such express requirements by assigning persons who do not possess the title of deputy sheriff to serve as bailiffs or court officers would be contrary to that intent. Op. Tenn. Att'y Gen. 12-32 (March 9, 2012), citing Op. Tenn. Att'y Gen. 10-107 (October 28, 2010).

Reference Number: CTAS-1238

It is the duty of the sheriff to ferret out, detect, and prevent crime; to secure evidence of crimes; and to apprehend and arrest criminals. Pursuant to statute, the sheriff must furnish the necessary deputies to carry out these duties. T.C.A. §§ 8-8-213, 38-3-102, and 38-3-108.

Child Sexual Abuse Cases

Child Protective Team

Each county is required by law to have a child protective team. T.C.A. § 37-1-607(a)(1). Pursuant to the same statute, each team must have a properly trained law enforcement officer with countywide jurisdiction (i.e., a deputy sheriff) from the county where the child resides or where the alleged offense occurred. In addition, each team must be composed of one person from the Department of Children’s Services, one representative from the office of the district attorney general, and one juvenile court officer or investigator from a court of competent jurisdiction. The team may also include a representative from one of the mental health disciplines. T.C.A. § 37-1-607(a)(2).

The teams conduct child protective investigations of reported child sexual abuse and also support and provide appropriate services to sexually abused children. The team determines the level of risk for the child and the services, including medical evaluations, psychological evaluations and short-term psychological treatment, and casework and coordination. The Department of Children’s Services is responsible for coordinating the services of these teams. T.C.A. § 37-1-607(a)(1).

See Department of Children’s Services, Administrative Policies and Procedures: 14.05, Investigation of Alleged Child Abuse and Neglect. See also Department of Children’s Services, Administrative Policies and Procedures: 14.28, Child Protective Services Investigation of Children Exposed To Chemical Laboratories for the Manufacture of Methamphetamine.

Child Sex Crime Investigation Unit

Through legislation, the General Assembly has encouraged each sheriff to establish a child sex crime investigation unit within the sheriff’s office for the purpose of investigating crimes involving the sexual abuse of children. T.C.A. § 37-1-603(b)(4)(A)(v). To further this objective, as part of the annual in-service training requirement the sheriff and every deputy sheriff must receive training in the investigation of cases involving child sexual abuse, including law enforcement response to and treatment of victims of such crimes.  T.C.A. § 37-1-603(b)(4)(A).; Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-4-.05 (4)

For additional information, see Investigation of Child Abuse under the Public Safety topic.

Reference Number: CTAS-1239

While sheriffs do not have a statutory obligation to provide dispatching services, dispatching is a necessary and reasonable support activity that helps the modern sheriff’s office carry out the sheriff’s statutory duties. Jones v. Mankin, 1989 WL 44924 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1989) (Courts may approve the cost of support personnel when they are required).

Minimum Qualifications .

After May 1, 1989, any person employed as a public safety dispatcher shall:

  1. Be at least 18 years of age;
  2. Be a citizen of the United States;
  3. Be a high school graduate or possess equivalency;
  4. Not have been convicted or pleaded guilty to or entered a plea of nolo contendere to any felony charge or to any violation of any federal or state laws or city ordinances relating to force, violence, theft, dishonesty, gambling, liquor or controlled substances;
  5. Not have been released or discharged under other than an honorable or medical discharge from any of the armed forces of the United States;
  6. Have their fingerprints on file with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation;
  7. Have passed a physical examination by a licensed physician; and
  8. Have a good moral character as determined by a thorough investigation conducted by the employing agency.

T.C.A. § 7-86-205(d).

Notwithstanding other provisions of law to the contrary, the law in effect prior to May 1, 1994, relative to public safety dispatchers applies to any person who had more than five years of continuous employment as a public safety dispatcher on May 1, 1994. T.C.A. § 7-86-205(f).

Training

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 7-86-205(a), all emergency call takers and public safety dispatchers who receive initial or transferred 911 calls from the public are subject to the training and course of study requirements established by the Emergency Communications Board created pursuant to T.C.A. § 7-86-302. 

Beginning July 1, 2006, all emergency call takers and public safety dispatchers must have successfully completed a course of study approved by the Emergency Communications Board. All emergency call takers and public safety dispatchers employed after July 1, 2006, have six months from the date of their employment to successfully complete the  approved course of study. T.C.A. § 7-86-205(c) and (e).

Reference Number: CTAS-1240
Reference Number: CTAS-1241

It is the duty of the sheriff to take charge and custody of the jail and of the prisoners therein. The sheriff is charged with keeping the prisoners personally or by deputies or jailer until they are lawfully discharged. T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(3). Pursuant to T.C.A. § 41-4-101 the sheriff has the authority to appoint a jailer for whose acts the sheriff is civilly responsible. See Davis v. Hardin County, 2002 WL 1397276, *3 - *4 (W.D. Tenn. 2002), for a discussion of the differences between deputies and jailers for the purposes of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act.

The Tennessee Corrections Institute defines a jailer as “one who is charged by an institution to detain or guard inmates.” Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.03 (40). The attorney general has opined that a jailer is one whose primary duty is to confine and control persons held in lawful custody. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. 85-222 (July 29, 1985).

Minimum Qualifications

(a) After July 1, 2006, any person employed as a jail administrator, jailer, corrections officer, or guard in a county jail or workhouse shall:

  1. Be at least eighteen (18) years of age;
  2. Be a citizen of the United States;
  3. Be a high school graduate or possess its equivalency, which shall include a general educational development (GED) certificate;
  4. Not have been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, or entered a plea of nolo contendere to any felony charge or to any violation of any federal or state laws or municipal ordinances relating to force, violence, theft, dishonesty, gambling, liquor, controlled substances or controlled substance analogues;
  5. Not have been released or discharged under any other than honorable discharge from any of the armed forces of the United States;
  6. Have the person’s fingerprints on file with the Tennessee bureau of investigation;
  7. Have passed a physical examination by a licensed physician;
  8. Have a good moral character as determined by a thorough investigation conducted by the sheriff’s office; and
  9. Have been certified by a Tennessee licensed health care provider qualified in the psychiatric or psychological field as being free from any impairment, as set forth in the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association at the time of the examination, that would, in the professional judgment of the examiner, affect the person's ability to perform an essential function of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation.

(b)

  1. Requirements for minimum qualifications as set forth in subsection (a) shall be mandatory and binding upon any municipality, county or political subdivision of this state.
  2. Any person who appoints any applicant, who, to the knowledge of the appointer, fails to meet the minimum qualifications as set forth in subsection (a), and any person who signs the warrant or check for the payment of the salary of any person who, to the knowledge of the signer, fails to meet the minimum qualifications as set forth in this section, commits a Class A misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be subject to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000).
  3. This section shall not apply to any jail administrator, jailer, corrections officer, or guard hired by any municipality, county, or political subdivision of this state prior to July 1, 2006.

(c) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to preclude an employing agency from establishing qualifications and standards for hiring and training jail or workhouse employees that exceed those set forth in this section. 

TCA 41-4-144 [Acts 2006, ch. 859, § 1]

A criminal record check shall be conducted on all new facility employees, service providers with continuous access to restricted areas, contractors, and volunteers prior to their assuming duties to identify if there are criminal convictions that have a specific relationship to job performance.  This criminal record check includes comprehensive identifier information to be collected and run against law enforcement indices.  If suspect information on matters with potential terrorism connections is returned on the person, this information shall be forwarded to the local Joint Terrorism Task Force or other similar agency.  Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.06(2).

Minimum Qualifications – Waivers

The Board of Control of the Tennessee Corrections Institute is empowered to and shall establish criteria for determining whether to waive the minimum qualifications required to be a jail administrator, workhouse administrator, jailer, corrections officer, or guard in a county jail or workhouse, as provided in T.C.A. § 41-4-144.

The board shall not grant waivers for any person hired as a jail administrator, workhouse administrator, jailer, corrections officer, or guard in any county jail or workhouse who has been dishonorably discharged from the military, has any mental impairment which affects the person's ability to perform any essential function of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation, has a conviction for domestic assault or a felony conviction.

The board's decision to grant waivers is appealable to the chancery court.

T.C.A. § 41-7-106.

Oath

Jail deputies must take the same oaths as the sheriff, which are certified, filed, and endorsed in the same manner as the sheriff’s. T.C.A. § 8-18-112.

Training Requirements

Prior to assuming duties, all detention facility employees, support employees and non-facility support staff shall receive orientation training regarding the functions and mission of the facility under the supervision of a qualified detention officer.  This training may be accomplished thorough classroom instruction, supervised on-the-job training, an individual review of policies and procedures, or any combination of the three and shall include:

(a) Facility policies and procedures;
(b) Suicide prevention;
(c) Use-of-force;
(d) Report writing;
(e) Inmate rules and regulations;
(f) Key control;
(g) Emergency plans and procedures;
(h) Cultural diversity;
(i) Communication skills; and,
(j) Sexual misconduct.  Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.06(4).

A facility training officer (FTO) shall coordinate the staff development and training program.  This person shall have specialized training for that position (assigned as a primary or additional duty).  The FTO shall complete the Training for Trainer (3T) course and attend the annual FTO Conference conducted by the Tennessee Corrections Institute.  Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.06(5)..

All support employees who have minimal inmate contact shall receive at least sixteen hours of facility training during their first year of employment.  All employees in this category shall receive an additional sixteen hours of facility training each subsequent year of employment.  Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.06(6).

All non-facility support staff who have regular or daily inmate contact, shall receive a minimum of four hours continuing annual training, which may include:

(a) Security procedures and regulations;
(b) Supervision of inmates;
(c) Signs of suicide risk;
(d) Suicide precautions;
(e) Use-of-force regulations and tactics;
(f) Report writing;
(g) Inmate rules and regulations;
(h) Key control;
(i) Rights and responsibilities of inmates;
(j) Safety procedures;
(k) All emergency plans and procedures;
(l) Interpersonal relations;
(m) Social/cultural lifestyles of the inmate population;
(n) Cultural diversity;
(o) CPR/first aid;
(p) Counseling techniques;
(q) Sexual harassment/sexual misconduct awareness;
(r) Purpose, goals, policies, and procedures for the facility and the parent agency;
(s) Security and contraband regulations;
(t) Appropriate conduct with inmates;
(u) Responsibilities and rights of employees;
(v) Universal precautions;
(w) Occupational exposure;
(x) Personal protective equipment;
(y) Bio-hazardous waste disposal; and,
(z) Overview of the correctional field.  Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.06(7).

All detention facility employees, including part-time employees, whose primary duties include the industry, custody, or treatment of inmates shall be required during the first year of employment to complete a basic training program consisting of a minimum of forty hours and provided or approved by the Tennessee Corrections Institute.  Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.06(8).

All detention facilities employees, including part-time employees, whose primary duties include the industry, custody, or treatment of inmates shall be required to complete an annual in-service program designed to instruct them in specific skill areas of facility operations.  This annual in-service shall consist of forty hours with at least 16 of these hours provided or approved by the Tennessee Corrections Institute.  The remaining twenty-four hours may be provided by the facility if course content is approved and monitored by the Tennessee Corrections Institute.  Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.06(9).

A minimum number of hours of training and any additional courses for basic and in-service training shall be in compliance with the requirements established by the Tennessee Corrections Institute Board of Controls.  Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.06(10).

All facility employees who are authorized to use firearms and less lethal weapons shall receive basic and ongoing in-service training in the use of these weapons.  Training shall include decontamination procedures for individuals exposed to chemical agents.  All such training shall be recorded with the dates completed and kept in the employee’s personnel file.  Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.06(11).

Facilities shall maintain records on the types and hours of training completed by each correctional employee, support employee and non-facility support staff.  Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.06(12).

Bond

There is no general law requirement that deputy sheriffs who work in the jail be bonded. However, in 2013, the Legislature amended T.C.A. § 8-19-101 to require county governments to obtain and maintain blanket surety bond coverage for all county employees not covered by individual bonds referenced elsewhere in statute. The minimum amount of such blanket bonds is one hundred fifty thousand dollars. T.C.A. § 8-19-101(e).

Reference Number: CTAS-1242

The sheriff is authorized by statute to employ guards to:

  1. Protect a defendant from violence, and to prevent the defendant's escape or rescue in all cases where a defendant charged with the commission of a felony is committed to jail, either before or after trial, and the safety of the defendant, or the defendant's safekeeping, requires a guard;
  2. Transport a prisoner to another jail when the county jail is insufficient for the safekeeping of the prisoner; and
  3. Transport a prisoner charged with a crime from one county to another for trial or safekeeping.

T.C.A. §§ 41-4-118, 41-4-121, and 41-4-126.

Minimum Qualifications

After July 1, 2006, any person employed as a corrections officer or guard in a county jail or workhouse must have the same minimum qualifications as a jailer. T.C.A. § 41-4-144.

Oath

Jail deputies must take the same oaths as the sheriff, which are certified, filed, and endorsed in the same manner as the sheriff’s. T.C.A. § 8-18-112. See Oaths under General Information tab of the County Offices topic for additional information.

Reference Number: CTAS-1243

Nurse

The sheriff is authorized to hire a female registered nurse and a male registered nurse who are authorized to make complete physical examinations of all people committed to the custody of the sheriff for the purpose of preventing the spread of any contagious disease.  T.C.A. § 41-4-138. See  Haywood County v. Hudson, 740 S.W.2d 718, 719 (Tenn. 1987); George v. Harlan, 1998 WL 668637, *4 (Tenn. 1998) (“[I]t is clear that the Circuit Court has the power to authorize employment of personnel necessary to properly perform the duties of the office of the sheriff and the legislative body has the duty to provide the funds to carry out the order of the Circuit Court.”).

Cook

Pursuant to statute, the jailer has a duty to furnish adequate food to prisoners in the jail.  T.C.A. § 41-4-109. Tennessee courts have recognized that cooks are necessary for the operation of a jail. See Jones v. Mankin, 1989 WL 44924, *7 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1989).

Reference Number: CTAS-1244

Each facility is required to offer jail personnel a pre-service orientation program designed to familiarize each person with the functions and mission of the facility.  All personnel whose duties include the industry, custody, or treatment of prisoners are required to complete a 40-hour basic training program during the first year of employment.  This training is provided by the Tennessee Corrections Institute. Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.06 (2) and (3). But see Russell v. Robertson County, 99 F.3d 1139 (Table) (6th Cir. 1996) citing Beddingfield v. City of Pulaski, 861 F.2d 968, 971 (6th Cir. 1988) (The City's decision to exclude its jail personnel from TCI training did not amount to a constitutionally impermissible failure to train "because the City provided its own in-house training program.").

In-Service Training

All personnel whose duties include the industry, custody, or treatment of prisoners are required to complete 40 hours of in-service training each year covering the specific skill areas of jail operations. At least 16 hours will be provided by the Tennessee Corrections Institute. The remaining 24 hours may be provided by the facility if course content is approved and monitored by the Tennessee Corrections Institute. Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.06 (4).

The county legislative body may by resolution choose, by a two-thirds vote of its entire membership to establish an in-service training program for certified correction officers employed by the county. Each participating county is required to establish criteria and rules and regulations governing its own program. T.C.A. § 38-8-111(d).

Training in Use of Firearms and Chemical Agents

All jail personnel who are authorized to use firearms or chemical agents must receive basic and ongoing in-service training in the use of these weapons. All such training must be recorded with the dates completed and kept in the officer's personnel file.  Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.06 (6).

Reference Number: CTAS-1245

The attorney general has opined that jailers are not entitled to receive the salary supplement provided for in T.C.A. § 38-8-111(a)-(c) because the primary duty of a full-time jailer is the confinement and control of persons held in lawful custody, not the prevention and detection of crime. Only full-time police officers, as defined in T.C.A. § 38-8-101, whose primary responsibility is the prevention and detection of crime, are eligible for the  salary supplement provided for in T.C.A. § 38-8-111. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. 85-222 (July 29, 1985). See also Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. 77-235A (July 22, 1977).

However, pursuant to T.C.A. § 38-8-111(d), the county legislative body may by resolution choose by a two-thirds vote of its entire membership to establish a cash supplement along with an in-service training program for certified correction officers employed by the county.  Each participating county is required to establish criteria and rules and regulations governing its own program.

Reference Number: CTAS-1246

It is the duty of the sheriff to execute and return, according to law, the process and orders of the courts of record of this state and of officers of competent authority, with due diligence, when delivered to the sheriff for that purpose. T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(1). And, it is the duty of the sheriff to execute all writs and other process legally issued and directed to the sheriff, within the county, and make due return thereof either personally or by a lawful deputy or, in civil lawsuits only, by a lawfully appointed civil process server. T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(5)(A). Note, the provisions of  T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(5)(A) relative to civil process servers do not apply in Hamilton, McMinn, Sullivan and Sumner counties. T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(5)(B). See George v. Harlan, 1998 WL 668637 (Tenn. 1998) (The circuit court has jurisdiction to authorize the employment and pay of deputies and assistants needed by the sheriff to perform his statutory duties.).

Reference Number: CTAS-1247

General Departmental Instructor .

Each sheriff’s office that conducts a 40-hour in-service training course is required to designate one training officer who meets the POST Commission general departmental instructor standards for certification. The training officer who is designated as the general departmental instructor must apply for and be certified as a general departmental instructor as defined in Rule 1110-3-.04(3) of the Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission. The general departmental instructor is responsible for coordinating in-service training programs and developing lesson plans, goals and objectives, and may be required to instruct in more than one subject area.  Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-4-.03.

Instructors

Instructors used for in-service training sessions must be approved by the general department instructor and must be qualified by experience and training. Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-4-.04.

In-Service Training

The general departmental instructor and all training officers are required to attend a POST Commission workshop at a time and place determined by the POST Commission and the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Officer Association as part of their annual in-service training requirement for training officers. Rules of the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Rule 1110-4-.03.

Reference Number: CTAS-40

The sheriff is obligated to execute and return, according to law, the process and orders of the courts of record, and of all officers of competent authority, with due diligence, when delivered to the sheriff. The sheriff must attend upon all of the courts held in the county, cause the courtroom to be kept in order and obey the lawful orders and directions of the court. The sheriff also may be ordered to levy execution upon a defendant's property, first upon goods or chattels, if there are any, and land in order to satisfy judgment, and upon a surety's property in the proper case. Many of the sheriff's duties regarding service of process and other matters are detailed in T.C.A. § 8-8-201. The sheriff is charged with the custody and security of the courthouse unless the county legislative body assigns this duty to someone else. T.C.A. § 5-7-108.

Law enforcement duties, jail administration, and workhouse administration are explained in detail under the Public Safety topic.

Reference Number: CTAS-41

The sheriff must interact with the county mayor and/or a finance/budget director as well as the county legislative body regarding the sheriff's budget and budget amendments. The exact procedures vary from county to county depending upon whether the county operates under a charter or optional general law regarding budgeting or has a private act dealing with this subject. However, all sheriffs must submit budget requests in a timely manner in the first half of each calendar year for inclusion in the county's annual budget. Most counties have budget committees that may recommend appropriations for the sheriff's budget that differ from the budget submitted by the sheriff. The county legislative body determines the amount of the sheriff's budget, subject to certain restrictions, such as not reducing the sheriff's budget for personnel without the consent of the sheriff and following the requirements of any court order regarding a salary suit for deputies or assistants or any other lawsuit that may have been filed to require the county legislative body to fund an adequate jail or otherwise meet its statutory or constitutional duties. In many counties, depending upon the applicable law, the county mayor has the authority to approve line item amendments to the sheriff's budget within major categories unrelated to personnel costs, whereas major category amendments require the approval of the county legislative body. T.C.A. § 5-9-407.

Since the sheriff waits upon the courts and serves process directed to the sheriff, the sheriff must interact with judges and chancellors holding court in the county as well as with the clerks serving these courts. Clerks of court routinely add sheriff's fees to the bills of costs that are prepared in each case and collect these fees along with the fees of the clerks of court and other costs. Also, the sheriff or deputy must go before an official deemed a "magistrate" by state law to obtain arrest warrants, search warrants, and orders to a jailer to incarcerate a prisoner (mittimus).

The sheriff interacts with the office of the district attorney general in the vast majority of counties wherein the sheriff has law enforcement duties. It is the district attorney's office that prosecutes criminal cases in the courts with criminal jurisdiction that are held in the county. Therefore, a good working relationship with the district attorney's office is vital to successful law enforcement in the county. The district attorney's office also has investigators who can be very valuable in helping the sheriff carry out the sheriff's law enforcement duties.

Reference Number: CTAS-1248

Upon leaving office, the sheriff must deliver to the sheriff’s successor all books and papers pertaining to the office, all property attached and levied on and in the sheriff's hands unless authorized by law to retain the same, and all prisoners in the jail, and take a receipt therefor, which receipt will be an indemnity to the retiring officer. T.C.A. § 8-8-214. Upon the expiration of the sheriff’s term, it is the duty of the sheriff to deliver the jail and the prisoners therein, with everything belonging or pertaining thereto, over to the sheriff’s successor or any person duly authorized by law to take charge of the jail. The failure to discharge this duty is a misdemeanor. T.C.A. § 41-4-102. The sheriff is allowed two years from the time of leaving office to close unsettled business, with all the power and subject to all the limitations and restrictions of the actual sheriff. T.C.A. § 8-8-215.

UNEXECUTED PROCESS. The sheriff’s power after going out of office is confined to unfinished business. It does not extend to the execution of process not yet commenced. The sheriff cannot execute a fieri facias (writ of execution) after the expiration of his term of office unless he has levied it before the expiration of his term.  Todd v. Jackson, 22 Tenn. 398 (1842) (Indeed the sheriff has no power to execute or return process after he goes out of office. He can do no further official act.  He cannot even return writs executed before he ceases to be an officer where the return day comes after he goes out of office. The writs should be delivered, even in such cases, to the new sheriff, who returns it into court.); Fondrin v. Planters’ Bank, 26 Tenn. 447 (1846) (Held that where a sheriff received an execution before his term of service expired, returnable afterward, that unless he had made a levy before the expiration of his term, he had no power to act on the writ afterward, and that he and his sureties would not be liable on motion for its non-return.); State ex rel. Nolin v. Parchmen, 40 Tenn. 609 (1859) (It has been held that where the sheriff's term expires, as in the present case, the only duty imposed upon the outgoing sheriff is to deliver over the process to his successor because he has no power to execute or return the same after his term was at an end unless, while in office, he had begun its execution.); Haynes v. Bridge, Townley & Co., 41 Tenn. 32 (1860).

UNLEVIED EXECUTION. If the outgoing sheriff has not levied an execution before the expiration of his term and the return date is after the expiration of his term, he has no power to act on the writ afterward. His only duty is to deliver it to his successor. This rule applies to all unexecuted process. A failure to execute and return such execution or other process, or deliver it to his successor, is not a breach of the sheriff’s bond, and does not render the sheriff’s sureties liable. Todd v. Jackson, 22 Tenn. 398 (1842) (If Webb had levied or began the execution of the writ before his term expired, then his securities would have been fixed with the debt.); Sherrell v. Goodrum, 22 Tenn. 419 (1842); Fondrin v. Planters’ Bank, 26 Tenn. 447 (1846); State ex rel. Nolin v. Parchmen, 40 Tenn. 609 (1859); Haynes v. Bridge, Townley & Co., 41 Tenn. 32 (1860).

It has been held that the sheriff’s failure to deliver an unlevied execution to his successor does not render the sheriff’s sureties liable, but the sheriff was liable individually in an action on the case for failure to deliver.  State ex rel. Nolin v. Parchmen, 40 Tenn. 609 (1859).

SALE AFTER EXPIRATION OF TERM. If the sheriff has levied an execution on personal property and has not sold it before the expiration of his term of office, the sheriff has to sell it afterward and make return in the same manner as if the sheriff’s office had continued.  A failure to do so renders the sheriff and the sheriff’s sureties liable, and they are not discharged from liability by the sheriff’s delivery of the writ and goods to the sheriff’s successor. Evans v. Barnes, 32 Tenn. 292 (1852); Campbell v. Cobb, 34 Tenn. 18 (1854); Testaman v. Holt, 2 Shannon’s Cases 375 (1877) (The officer who commences execution of a writ of fieri facias is bound to finish it, and if he has levied writ on debtor's goods, he cannot even deliver writ and goods to his successor in discharge of himself but must sell goods and make proper return in same manner as if his office had continued.). See Overton v. Perkins, 18 Tenn. 328 (1837).

A sale of land by a sheriff after the expiration of his term, under a venditioni exponas  (a writ of execution commanding the sheriff to sell lands that he has taken in execution by virtue of a fieri facias) issued upon a levy made by the sheriff while in office is void.  Bank of Tenn. v. Beatty, 35 Tenn. 305 (1855).

Reference Number: CTAS-183

The Tennessee Constitution does not prescribe the duties of the office of sheriff even though sheriffs are constitutional officers. The office of sheriff carries all the common-law powers and duties except as modified by statute. State ex rel. Thompson v. Reichman, 188 S.W. 225, 227, reh'g denied, 188 S.W. 597 (Tenn. 1916). As noted, the sheriff’s duties were originally defined by the common law but are now largely prescribed by statute. George v. Harlan, 1998 WL 668637, *3 (Tenn. 1998) citing Metropolitan Gov't of Nashville & Davidson County v. Poe, 383 S.W.2d 265, 273 (1964). Over time, the sheriff's responsibilities have expanded from being primarily ministerial to include peacekeeping functions. Today, the sheriff's statutory duties encompass his common law duties and can be grouped into four broad categories: (1) keeping the peace, (2) attending the courts, (3) serving the process and orders of the courts, and (4) operating the jail. See George v. Harlan, 1998 WL 668637, *3 (Tenn. 1998). In counties with a metropolitan form of government, some of these functions may be assigned by the charter to other officials.

Keeping the Peace

The sheriff “is the commander in chief of the law forces of the county. All judicial and ministerial officers of justice and all city officials are required to aid him, and the male population of his county is subject to his command ‘in the prevention and suppression,’ not only of violent breaches of the peace, but of all public offenses.” State ex rel. Thompson v. Reichman, 188 S.W. 225, 227-228 (Tenn. 1916); T.C.A. § 38-3-102. The duties and powers of a sheriff within the limits of an incorporated city are precisely the same that they are in the remainder of the county. The law draws no distinction. Reichman at 228. Op. Tenn. Att'y Gen. 08-134 (August 14, 2008).

The sheriff is the conservator of the peace, and it is the sheriff’s duty to suppress all affrays, riots, routs, unlawful assemblies, insurrections, or other breaches of the peace. In addition, it is the duty of the sheriff to ferret out, detect, and prevent crime, to secure evidence of crimes; and to apprehend and arrest criminals. The sheriff is also charged with patrolling the roads of the county. The sheriff must furnish the necessary deputies to carry out these duties.T.C.A. §§ 8-8-213, 38-3-102, and 38-3-108.

Attending the Courts

The sheriff is charged with the custody and security of the courthouse unless the county legislative body assigns this duty to someone else. It is the duty of the sheriff to prevent trespasses, exclude intruders, and keep the courthouse and the courthouse grounds in order, reporting from time to time the repairs required and the expense, to the county legislative body. Further, it is  the duty of the sheriff to see that the state and national flags are properly displayed in each courtroom while the county legislative body is in session. T.C.A. § 5-7-108. See also Ferriss v. Williamson, 67 Tenn. 424 (1874); Driver v. Thompson, 358 S.W.2d 477 (Tenn. 1962).

Except in Davidson County, it is the duty of the sheriff to attend upon all the courts held in the county when in session, cause the courthouse or courtroom to be kept in order for the accommodation of the courts, and obey the lawful orders and directions of the court. T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(2). And, unless otherwise provided, it is the duty of the sheriff in every county to provide sufficient bailiffs to serve the general sessions courts. T.C.A. § 16-15-715. Furthermore, it is the duty of the sheriff to furnish the necessary deputies and special deputies to attend and dispense with the business of the juvenile courts. T.C.A. § 37-1-213. See Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 00-009 (January 19, 2000) (Hamilton County).

Serving the Process and Orders of the Courts

It is the duty of the sheriff to execute and return, according to law, the process and orders of the courts of record of this state, and of officers of competent authority, with due diligence, when delivered to the sheriff for that purpose. T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(1).

It is the duty of the sheriff to execute within the county all writs and other process legally issued and directed to the sheriff and make due return thereof, either personally or by a lawful deputy or, in civil lawsuits only, by a lawfully appointed civil process server. T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(5)(A). The provisions of T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(5)(A) relative to civil process servers do not apply in Hamilton, McMinn, Sullivan and Sumner counties. T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(5)(B).

It is the duty of the sheriff to levy every writ of execution upon a defendant’s property, first on the defendant's goods and chattels if there are any and upon the defendant’s lands in order to satisfy the plaintiff’s judgment, and upon a surety’s property in the proper case.  T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(13), (14), and (15). For additional information, see Service of Civil Process.

Operating the Jail

Tennessee case law makes it clear that the sheriff, by virtue of his office, is the jailor and is entitled to the custody of the jail. Felts v. City of Memphis, 39 Tenn. 650 (1859); State ex rel. Bolt v. Drummond, 128 Tenn. 271, 160 S.W. 1082 (1913). See also State v. Cummins, 42 S.W. 880 (Tenn. 1897). It is the duty of the sheriff to take charge and custody of the jail of the sheriff's county and of the prisoners therein. The sheriff is charged with receiving those persons lawfully committed to the jail and with keeping them personally or by deputies or jailer until they are lawfully discharged. It is the duty of the sheriff to be constantly at the jail or have someone there with the keys to liberate the prisoners in case of fire. T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(3). For additional information, see Jail Administration.

Reference Number: CTAS-1249

Tennessee Code Annotated section 8-8-201(b)(1) sets forth a list of statutes that include additional statutory duties of the office of sheriff. In addition, T.C.A. § 8-8-201(b)(2) charges the sheriff with performing such other duties as are, or may be, imposed by law or custom.  The duties listed in T.C.A. § 8-8-201 are not ex officio duties. See George v. Harlan, 1998 WL 668637, *2 (Tenn. 1998) (ex officio duties are defined as nonstatutory duties and ex officio services are defined as those services not required by statute). Some of the duties listed are applicable to the municipal chief of police as well as the sheriff.

Reference Number: CTAS-1250

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 16-2-505(d), each county must establish a court security committee. In addition to the sheriff, the committee is to be composed of the county mayor, the district attorney general, the presiding judge of the judicial district, and a court clerk from the county designated by the presiding judge. The committee is charged with examining the space and facilities to determine the security needs of the courtrooms in the county in order to provide safe and secure facilities.

Upon completing the examination of security needs, the administrative office of the courts distributes to the court security committee a copy of the minimum security standards as adopted by the Tennessee Judicial Conference. The committee must review and consider these standards in determining court security needs. No later than May 15 of each year, the court security committee must report its findings to the county legislative body and the administrative office of the courts. The county legislative body is required to review and consider the recommendations of the court security committee in preparing the budget. Any recommendation by the court security committee requiring county expenditures is subject to approval of the county legislative body. No later than December 1 of each year, the county legislative body is required to report to the administrative office of the courts any action taken to meet the security needs. No later than January 15 of each year, the administrative office of the courts is required to report to the General Assembly on the compliance by each county government with the security needs established by the court security committee.

Reference Number: CTAS-1251

Physical evidence other than documents and firearms used in judicial proceedings and in the custody of a court in cases where all appeals or potential appeals of a judgment have ended or when the case has been settled, dismissed or otherwise brought to a conclusion, may be disposed of following the procedure set forth in T.C.A. § 18-1-206 (except in Shelby County).  Once the court has entered an order to dispose of the evidence, the clerk delivers the order and the items approved for disposition to the custody of the sheriff or of the chief of police in counties having a metropolitan form of government for disposition in accordance with the order of the court.

It is the duty of the sheriff to deliver the physical evidence to the owner(s) or to organization(s) when so ordered, personally or by return receipt mail. When ordered to sell physical evidence, the sheriff must advertise the sale(s) in a newspaper of general circulation for not fewer than three editions and not less than 30 days prior to the sale(s).  The sheriff must conduct a public sale and maintain a record of each sale and the amount received. The proceeds of the sale(s) are deposited in the county general fund. When ordered to destroy physical evidence, it is the duty of the sheriff to completely destroy each item by cutting, crushing, burning or melting. The sheriff must then file an affidavit with the clerk of the court ordering the destruction showing a description of each item, the method of destruction, the date and place of destruction, and the names and addresses of all witnesses. T.C.A. § 18-1-206(a)(7).

Controlled substances and drug paraphernalia in the custody and possession of the court clerk by virtue of having been held as evidence or exhibits in any criminal prosecution where all appeals or potential appeals of a judgment have ended, or when the case has been dismissed or otherwise brought to a conclusion, are disposed of by the court clerk as set forth in T.C.A. § 53-11-451(k).

Reference Number: CTAS-1252

It is the duty of the sheriff, upon order of the court, to destroy as contraband or to otherwise lawfully dispose of any unlawful telecommunication devices, plans, instructions, publication, or other related items used in violation of T.C.A. § 39-14-149. T.C.A. § 39-14-149(b).

Reference Number: CTAS-1253

It is the duty of the sheriff, or other officer, upon the conviction of any person for a violation of T.C.A. § 39-17-713, to destroy or otherwise dispose of all alcoholic beverages according to law. T.C.A. § 39-17-714. See Intoxicating Liquors.

Reference Number: CTAS-1254

It is the duty of the sheriff and the sheriff’s deputies to confiscate any weapon that is possessed, used or sold in violation of the law. With few exceptions, such confiscated weapon shall be declared to be contraband by a court of record exercising criminal jurisdiction. The sheriff may petition the court for permission to dispose of the weapon in accordance with T.C.A. § 39-17-1317. Any weapon declared contraband shall be sold in a public sale or used for legitimate law enforcement purposes, at the discretion of the court, by written order. T.C.A. § 39-17-1317(b).

If the court orders the weapon to be sold it must be sold at a public auction not later than six months from the date of the court order. The sale must be conducted by the sheriff of the county in which it was seized. The sale must be advertised in a daily or weekly newspaper circulated within the county. The advertisement must run for not fewer than three editions and not less than 30 days prior to the sale. The proceeds from the sale go into the county general fund and are to be allocated solely for law enforcement purposes. If required by federal or state law, the sale can be conducted under contract with a licensed firearm dealer, whose commission may not exceed 20 percent of the gross sales price. Such dealer cannot not hold an elective or appointed job with the federal, state, county or city government in this state during any stage of the sales contract. T.C.A. § 39-17-1317(c).

If the weapon is sold, the sheriff shall file an affidavit, as follows, with the court issuing the sale order:

   (1) The affidavit shall be filed within thirty days after the sale;

   (2) The affidavit shall identify the weapon, including any serial number, and shall state the time, date and circumstances of the sale; and

   (3) If the weapon has been sold, the affidavit shall list the name and address of the purchaser and the price paid for the weapon.

T.C.A. § 39-17-1317(f).

If the court orders the weapon to be retained and used for legitimate law enforcement purposes, title to the weapon shall be placed in the law enforcement agency retaining the weapon and when the weapon is no longer needed for legitimate law enforcement purposes, it shall be sold in accordance with law. T.C.A. § 39-17-1317(e).

No confiscated weapon shall be sold or retained for law enforcement use in the following circumstances:

   (1) A weapon that may be evidence in an official proceeding shall be retained or otherwise preserved in accordance with the rules or practices regulating the preservation of evidence. The weapon shall be sold or retained for legitimate law enforcement purposes not less than sixty days nor more than one hundred eighty days after the last legal proceeding involving the weapon; or

   (2) Any weapon that has been stolen or borrowed from its owner, and the owner was not involved in the offense for which the weapon was confiscated, shall be returned to the owner if permitted by law.

T.C.A. § 39-17-1317(g).

If the sheriff certifies to the court that a weapon is inoperable or unsafe, the court shall order the weapon destroyed or recycled. T.C.A. § 39-17-1317(i).

The sheriff may petition the criminal court or the court in the sheriff's county having criminal jurisdiction for permission to exchange firearms that have previously been properly titled to the sheriff's office for other firearms, ammunition or body armor suitable for use by the sheriff's office. This exchange of firearms for these specified items used for legitimate law enforcement purposes is permitted only between the sheriff's office and a licensed and qualified law enforcement firearms dealer. T.C.A. § 39-17-1317(l).

If any firearm confiscated and adjudicated as contraband pursuant to Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13, or any other provision of law could be sold at public auction or retained by the sheriff’s office for law enforcement purposes as provided in T.C.A. § 39-17-1317, but for the fact that the serial number of the firearm has been defaced or destroyed, the sheriff of the county in which the firearm was confiscated may send the firearm to the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation who shall assign the firearm a new serial number, permanently affix the number to the firearm, record the number in the bureau's computer system, and send the firearm back to the sheriff for disposition in accordance with law.  T.C.A. § 39-17-1318(a). If any firearm assigned a new serial number by the TBI is later sold at public auction, 10 percent of the proceeds of the sale must be returned to the general fund of the state to defray the costs incurred by the bureau in the new serial number. T.C.A. § 39-17-1318(b).

Reference Number: CTAS-1255

Once a conveyance, including a vehicle, aircraft or vessel that was used to transport, conceal or store money or goods that were the subject of a robbery offense under Title 39, Chapter 13, Part 4, or felony theft under Title 39, Chapter 14, Part 1, has been forfeited under Title 40, Chapter 33, Part 1, it is the duty of the sheriff to remove it for disposition in accordance with the law. T.C.A. § 40-33-105.

At the direction of the court having jurisdiction over the property, all seized conveyances  are required to be sold at a public sale by the sheriff in the manner provided for by law for judicial sales in civil cases. However, any vehicle seized by the sheriff and forfeited under the provisions of Title 40, Chapter 33, Part 1, may, at the direction of the court having jurisdiction over the property, be retained by the sheriff’s office and used for purposes of law enforcement provided that any liens filed against the vehicle are satisfied by the sheriff’s office. Proceeds that inure to the county under the provisions of Title 40, Chapter 33, Part 1, shall be earmarked and used exclusively by the sheriff’s office for law enforcement purposes. T.C.A. § 40-33-107(2). See also T.C.A. § 40-33-110.

Reference Number: CTAS-1256

Once property has been forfeited under Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 4, or Title 53, Chapter 11, Parts 3 and 4, it is the duty of the sheriff to remove it for disposition in accordance with the law. T.C.A. § 53-11-451(e).

Regardless of any other method of disposition of the property, the sheriff may, with the permission of the court and under such terms and conditions as are approved by the court, use the property taken or detained in the drug enforcement program of the county. In addition, with the approval of the court having jurisdiction over the property, the sheriff may sell the property and use the proceeds for the drug enforcement program of the county.  T.C.A. § 53-11-451(d)(4). If goods are seized by a combination of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the sheriff’s office, the court ordering their disposal shall determine the allocation of proceeds upon disposition of the goods. In all other cases, fines, forfeitures, and goods and their proceeds shall be disposed of as otherwise provided by law. T.C.A. § 39-17-420(a)(1).

Pursuant to T.C.A. §§ 39-17-420(a)(1) and 40-33-211(a), all fines and forfeitures of appearance bonds received because of a violation of any provision of Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 4, that are specifically set forth therein, that resulted from an arrest made by the sheriff’s office and the proceeds of all goods seized by the sheriff and forfeited under the provisions of T.C.A. § 53-11-451 and disposed of by the sheriff shall be paid to the county trustee and shall be accounted for in a special revenue fund. Note that pursuant to T.C.A. § 39-17-428(c)(1), only 50 percent of the fine collected pursuant to T.C.A. § 39-17-428(b) is allocated to the special revenue fund. The remaining 50 percent is paid to the county general fund. All financial activities related to funds received under Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 4, must be accounted for in the special revenue fund. T.C.A. §§ 39-17-420(a)(1) and 53-11-415(a).

Moneys in the special revenue fund may be used only for the local drug enforcement program, local drug education program, local drug treatment program, and nonrecurring general law enforcement expenditures. T.C.A. §§ 39-17-420(a)(1) and 39-17-428(c)(2).  The attorney general has opined that these funds may be used for private drug education and treatment programs in addition to county drug education and treatment programs.  Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. 97-125 (September 2, 1997). Funds derived from drug seizures, confiscations and sales may not be used to supplement the salaries of any public employee or law enforcement officer. T.C.A. § 40-33-211(b). However, the attorney general has opined that T.C.A. §§ 39-17-420 and 53-11-451 authorize the sheriff to use funds obtained from fines and appearance bond forfeitures and proceeds derived from the sale of property seized and forfeited in connection with illegal drug activities to pay the salaries of staff personnel who are employed in drug enforcement, education and treatment programs and only for work performed for such programs. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. 99-202 (October 6, 1999).

Note: All fines and forfeitures of appearance bonds received from the violation of the provisions of Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 4, and which are specifically set forth therein, the proceeds of goods seized and forfeited under the provisions of T.C.A. § 53-11-451 and disposed of according to law that arise from the activities of a judicial district drug task force are paid to an expendable trust fund maintained by the county mayor in a county designated by the district attorney general and can be used only in a drug enforcement or drug education program of the district as directed by the board of directors of the judicial district drug task force. All requests for disbursement from the expendable trust fund maintained by the county mayor for confidential purposes must be by written request signed by the drug task force director and the district attorney general. T.C.A. §§ 39-17-420(c) and 40-33-211(a).

Cash transactions related to undercover investigative operations of the county drug enforcement program must be administered in compliance with procedures established by the comptroller of the treasury. T.C.A. § 39-17-420(a)(1). The comptroller of the treasury and the Department of Finance and Administration, in consultation with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Sheriffs' Association and the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police, were required to develop procedures and guidelines for handling cash transactions related to undercover investigative operations of county or municipal drug enforcement programs. These procedures and guidelines are applicable to the disbursement of proceeds from the drug enforcement program. T.C.A. § 39-17-420(e).

The sheriff is required to recommend a budget for the special revenue fund, to be approved by the county legislative body. T.C.A. § 39-17-420(a)(2). Upon the demand of the sheriff, the county trustee must pay to the sheriff’s office the funds demanded for use in cash transactions related to undercover investigative drug enforcement operations.  T.C.A. § 53-11-415(a). Expenditures from the special revenue fund are subject to the availability of funds and budgetary appropriations for the expenditure. T.C.A. §§ 39-17-420(a)(2) and 53-11-415(a). Any purchase made with moneys from the fund must be made in accordance with all existing purchasing laws applicable to the particular county, including private acts, that establish purchasing provisions or requirements for the county. T.C.A. §§ 39-17-420(a)(2) and 40-33-211(b). Special rules apply to Davidson County.  See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-420(a)(3) and (b) and 53-11-415(b).

The sheriff is accountable to the county legislative body for the proper disposition of the proceeds of goods seized and forfeited under the provisions of T.C.A. § 53-11-451, and for the fines imposed by T.C.A. § 39-17-428. An annual audited report of these funds must be submitted by the sheriff to the county legislative body. In years when the Office of the Comptroller of the Treasury conducts an audit, it shall satisfy this requirement.  If no audit is conducted by the comptroller, then an audit must be performed by a certified public accountant in order to satisfy this requirement. T.C.A. § 39-17-429.

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 39-17-420(f), if the sheriff’s office receives proceeds from fines, forfeitures, seizures or confiscations under Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 4, or Title 53, Chapter 11, the sheriff may set aside a sum from such proceeds to purchase supplies and other items to operate and promote the DARE program, created by Title 49, Chapter 1, Part 4, or any other drug abuse prevention program conducted in the school system or systems within the county served by the sheriff’s office. The local school board must approve the program before the program may become eligible to receive funds under T.C.A. § 39-17-420(f). Supplies and items that may be purchased with such proceeds include, but are not limited to, workbooks, T-shirts, caps and medallions.

In order to comply with state and federal fingerprinting requirements, except in Davidson County, 20 percent of the funds received by a sheriff’s office pursuant to T.C.A. § 39-17-420 must be set aside and earmarked for the purchase, installation, maintenance of and line charges for an electronic fingerprint imaging system that is compatible with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's integrated automated fingerprint identification system. Prior to purchasing the equipment, the sheriff must obtain certification from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation that the equipment is compatible with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s and Federal Bureau of Investigation’s integrated automated fingerprint identification system. Once the electronic fingerprint imaging system has been purchased, the sheriff’s office may continue to set aside up to 20 percent of the funds received pursuant to T.C.A. § 39-17-420 to pay for line charges and maintaining the electronic fingerprint imaging system. T.C.A. § 39-17-420(g)(1).

Instead of purchasing the fingerprinting equipment, a local law enforcement agency may enter into an agreement for use of the equipment with another law enforcement agency that possesses the equipment. The agreement may provide that the local law enforcement agency may use the fingerprinting equipment for identifying people arrested by that agency in exchange for paying an agreed upon portion of the cost and maintenance of the fingerprinting equipment. If no agreement exists, it shall be the responsibility of the arresting officer to obtain fingerprints and answer for the failure to do so. T.C.A. § 39-17-420(g)(1). See also Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. 01-088 (May 24, 2001).

Reference Number: CTAS-1257

Disposition of Vehicle Used in the Commission of DUI Offense

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 55-10-403(k), it is the duty of the sheriff to properly dispose of a vehicle used in the commission of a person's second or subsequent violation of T.C.A. § 55-10-401 (driving under the influence of intoxicant, drug or drug producing stimulant), that was seized by the sheriff’s office, once it has been forfeited pursuant to Title 40, Chapter 33, Part 2.  T.C.A. § 40-33-210(d).

Forfeited vehicles may be used by the sheriff’s office in the drug enforcement program for a period not to exceed five years. T.C.A. §§ 40-33-211(e) and 53-11-201(b)(2)(C). See also Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. 99-190 (September 28, 1999). Vehicles not used in the local drug enforcement program must be sold. Revenue derived from the sale of vehicles seized by the sheriff’s office and forfeited under T.C.A. § 55-10-403(k) is retained by the sheriff’s office and used during each fiscal year to compensate the sheriff’s office for the reasonable and direct expenses involved in confiscating, towing, storing, and selling the forfeited vehicles. All expenses claimed by the sheriff’s office are subject to audit and review by the comptroller of the treasury to determine that the expenses claimed are direct and reasonable. Any remaining revenue must be transmitted to the Department of Health no later than June 30 of each fiscal year. T.C.A. § 40-33-211(f).

Disposition of Vehicle Used by Person Driving On Revoked License

It is the duty of the sheriff to properly dispose of a vehicle, that was seized by the sheriff’s office pursuant to T.C.A. § 55-50-504(h), once it has been forfeited pursuant to Title 40, Chapter 33, Part 2.  T.C.A. § 40-33-210(d).

Forfeited vehicles may be used by the sheriff’s office in the drug enforcement program for a period not to exceed five years. T.C.A. §§ 40-33-211(e) and 53-11-201(b)(2)(C). Vehicles not used in the local drug enforcement program must be sold.  Revenue derived from the sale of vehicles seized by the sheriff’s office and forfeited under T.C.A. § 55-50-504(h) is retained by the sheriff’s office and used during each fiscal year to compensate the sheriff’s office for the reasonable and direct expenses involved in the confiscating, towing, storing, and selling the forfeited vehicles. All expenses claimed by the sheriff’s office are subject to audit and review by the comptroller of the treasury to determine that the expenses claimed are direct and reasonable. Any remaining revenue must be transmitted to the Department of Health no later than June 30 of each fiscal year.  T.C.A. § 40-33-211(c).

Disposition of Abandoned, Immobile or Unattended Motor Vehicles

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 55-16-106(a), it is the duty of the sheriff to sell at a public auction the abandoned, immobile, or unattended motor vehicles that the sheriff’s office has taken into custody and that have not been reclaimed as provided for in T.C.A. § 55-16-105. The sheriff’s office must issue the purchaser of the motor vehicle a sales receipt. The purchaser takes title to the motor vehicle free and clear of all liens and claims of ownership. Upon presentation of the sales receipt, the Department of Safety must issue a certificate of title to the purchaser. T.C.A. § 55-16-106(b).

The proceeds of the sale of an abandoned, immobile, or unattended motor vehicle are to be used to pay the expenses of the auction; the costs of towing, preserving and storing the vehicle; and all notice and publication costs incurred pursuant to T.C.A. § 55-16-105. Any remainder from the proceeds of a sale must be held for the owner of the vehicle or entitled lienholder for 45 days, and then may be deposited in a special fund that is to remain available to pay auction, towing, preserving, storage and all notice and publication costs that result from placing other abandoned, immobile, or unattended vehicles in custody, whenever the proceeds from a sale of other abandoned, immobile, or unattended motor vehicles are insufficient to meet these expenses and costs. Whenever the chief fiscal officer of the county finds that moneys in the special fund are in excess of reserves likely to be needed for the purposes thereof, the officer may transfer the excess to the county general fund, but in such event, claims against the special fund, if the special fund is temporarily exhausted, shall be met from the general fund to the limit of any transfers previously made thereto. T.C.A. § 55-16-106(d) and (e).

Reference Number: CTAS-1258

It is the duty of all sheriffs to enforce the provisions of Title 70, Chapter 3, dealing with the taxation of shotgun shells and metallic cartridges.  T.C.A. § 70-3-113.

Reference Number: CTAS-1259

It is the duty of all sheriffs to enforce the provisions of Title 70, Chapter 4, dealing with hunting on posted property.  T.C.A. § 70-4-106.

Reference Number: CTAS-1260

It is the duty of all sheriffs and their deputies to seize and take possession of any and all furs, fish, wild animals, wild birds, guns, rods, reels, nets, creels, boats or other instruments, tackle or devices that have been used, transported or possessed contrary to any laws or regulations promulgated by the Wildlife Resources Commission, and impound and take them before the court trying the person arrested.  T.C.A. § 70-6-201

Reference Number: CTAS-1261

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 39-17-1361, it is the duty of the sheriff of the county of residence of a person purchasing any firearm, defined by the National Firearms Act, 26 U.S.C. § 5845 et seq., to execute, within 15 business days of any request, all documents required to be submitted by the purchaser if the purchaser is not prohibited from possessing firearms pursuant to T.C.A. § 39-17-1316.

Reference Number: CTAS-1262

In October of 1996, the Department of Safety began issuing handgun carry permits pursuant to 1996 Public Chapter 905. Previous to this change, handgun carry permits were issued by local sheriffs’ offices. Handgun carry permits are no longer issued by sheriffs’ offices. The Department of Safety has the sole responsibility to issue handgun carry permits. T.C.A. § 39-17-1351.

When the Department of Safety receives a handgun carry permit application, the department is required to send a copy of the application to the sheriff of the county in which the applicant resides. Within 30 days of receiving an application, the sheriff is required to provide the department with any information concerning the truthfulness of the applicant's answers to the eligibility requirements set forth in T.C.A. § 39-17-1351(c) that is within the knowledge of the sheriff. T.C.A. § 39-17-1351(g)(2). This does not require the sheriff to conduct a full criminal background investigation, only a check of local records within the sheriff’s office.

As part of the process of applying for a handgun carry permit, an applicant is required to provide two full sets of classifiable fingerprints at the time the application is filed with the department. The applicant may have his or her fingerprints taken by the department at the time the application is submitted, or the applicant may have his or her fingerprints taken at any sheriff's office and submit the fingerprints to the department along with the application and other supporting documents. The sheriff may charge a fee not to exceed $5 for taking the applicant's fingerprints. At the time an applicant's fingerprints are taken either by the department or a sheriff's office, the applicant is required to present a photo identification. If the person requesting fingerprinting is not the same person as the person whose picture appears on the photo identification, the department or sheriff must refuse to take the applicant’s fingerprints. T.C.A. § 39-17-1351(d)(1).

Reference Number: CTAS-1263

Intoxicating Liquors - Traffic in Intoxicating Liquors

It is the duty of all sheriffs and other peace officers charged with enforcing the laws of the state to enforce the provisions of Title 57, Chapter 3, dealing with the trafficking of intoxicating liquors. T.C.A. § 57-3-410.

Intoxicating Liquors - Beer and Alcoholic Beverages

The police and penal provisions of Title 57, Chapter 5, dealing with beer and alcoholic beverages containing less than 8 percent alcohol are to be enforced by all sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, police officers and members of the state highway patrol. In addition, such officers, along with inspectors, agents, representatives or officers appointed by the commissioner of revenue, are charged with enforcing the revenue provisions of this Chapter 5. T.C.A. § 57-5-202(c).

Intoxicating Liquors - Destruction of Stills and Paraphernalia

It is the duty of all sheriffs and deputy sheriffs to search for, seize and capture all:

  1. Illicit distilleries, stills and worms, distilling and fermenting equipment and apparatus, and other paraphernalia connected therewith or used or to be used in the illicit manufacture of intoxicating liquors;
  2. Raw materials and substances connected with or to be used in the illicit manufacture of intoxicating liquors; and
  3. Containers connected with or used in the packaging of illicitly manufactured intoxicating liquors.

T.C.A. § 57-9-101(a).

It is the duty of all sheriffs and deputy sheriffs to destroy any and all whiskey, beer, or other intoxicants found at or near illicit distilleries or stills except with respect to intoxicating liquors upon which federal tax has been paid as provided in T.C.A. § 57-9-115. Further, it is the duty of all sheriffs and deputy sheriffs capturing such illicit distilleries, stills, distilling and fermenting equipment and apparatus, and other paraphernalia, to summarily destroy and render the property useless. T.C.A. § 57-9-101(b) and (c). Any intoxicants or other articles of personal property destroyed under the authority of T.C.A. § 57-9-101 must be destroyed in the presence of at least two credible witnesses. Within five days after the destruction, the officer destroying the intoxicants or other articles of personal property must file a written statement listing all the items destroyed, signed by the officer and the witness or witnesses thereto, with the circuit or criminal court clerk of the county where seized and, in addition, must file a copy of the written statement with the Alcoholic Beverage Commission. T.C.A. § 57-9-101(c).

It is the duty of all sheriffs and deputy sheriffs to arrest any and all people implicated, aiding or abetting in the manufacture of intoxicating liquors and take them before the proper officials and have them tried upon such charge. T.C.A. § 57-9-102. See Hagan v. Black, 17 S.W.2d 908, 909 (Tenn. 1929) (County court had no power to adopt resolution offering to pay reward to officers for conviction of liquor law violators.).

Intoxicating Liquors - Seizure of Illegal Liquor

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 57-9-103, it is the duty of all sheriffs and deputy sheriffs to take into their possession any intoxicating liquors, including wine, ale, and beer, that have been received by or are in possession of or are being transported by any person in violation of any law of this state. Furthermore it is the duty of the sheriff to hold such liquors pending further orders of the court. Casone v. State, 140 S.W.2d 1081, 1082 (Tenn. 1940). When the sheriff seizes liquors under his general authority as a law enforcement officer and not as an agent or representative of the commissioner of revenue, the liquor remains in the sheriff’s custody until it is determined by the court whether or not the liquor was legally in the possession of the person from whom it was seized. If the court determines that the liquor is contraband goods under the statute, then the court may entertain an application from the commissioner of revenue asserting his jurisdiction to possess the liquors and sell them for the benefit of the treasury. Casone v. State, 140 S.W.2d 1081, 1082 (Tenn. 1940). Note: The enactment of Title 57, Chapter 3 did not repeal in toto the provisions of T.C.A. § 57-9-103 et seq. Primarily, T.C.A. § 57-3-411 is a revenue measure to enforce payment of the liquor tax. Casone at 1082.

Every officer, other than the sheriff, who seizes intoxicating liquors, must within five days of the seizure deliver the intoxicating liquors to the sheriff of the county wherein the liquor was seized. Upon delivery, the sheriff must give the officer a written receipt for the liquor showing the kind and quantity of intoxicating liquors delivered, and the name or names of the person(s) from whom the intoxicating liquors were taken if the name(s) are known to the officer. T.C.A. § 57-9-106. See Nichols v. State, 181 S.W.2d 368 (Tenn. 1944). In addition, the seizing officer must, within five days after taking possession of any intoxicating liquors, file a written statement with the circuit or criminal court clerk of the county wherein the liquor was seized showing the kind and quantity of intoxicating liquors taken and, if known, the name or names of the person from whom the liquor was taken.  T.C.A. § 57-9-104. Failure to file the required statement negates the seizure. State v. Bellamy, 1986 WL 10567 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1986). The filing of this statement is the only notice that is required to be given to the person from whom the liquors were taken, where the person resides within the jurisdiction of the court or where the person was arrested at the time of the seizure. T.C.A. § 57-9-109. Any person claiming an interest in the seized liquors must file a petition in the circuit or criminal court of the county in which the liquors were seized within 10 days after the filing of the statement showing the seizure. T.C.A. § 57-9-111. See Nichols v. State, 181 S.W.2d 368 (Tenn. 1944). If the sheriff or other officer seizing the liquor does not know the name of the person transporting, receiving or possessing the intoxicating liquors, the sheriff or other officer seizing the liquor must certify such fact in the statement required by T.C.A. § 57-9-104 and the clerk of the circuit or criminal court must give notice to whom it may concern by posting a notice at the courthouse door setting forth in substance that such liquors have been seized in accordance with the law and notifying all persons claiming the liquor to do so within 30 days from the date of the posting of the notice. If a claim is not filed within the prescribed time, the seized property will be forfeited and disposed of as provided by law. T.C.A. §§ 57-9-110 and 57-9-111.

It is the duty of the sheriff to safely keep in his or her possession all intoxicating liquors, either taken by the sheriff or delivered to the sheriff, until ordered by the court to dispose of the liquor.T.C.A. § 57-9-107. Pursuant to T.C.A. § 57-9-108, at each term of the circuit or criminal court, the sheriff must deliver to the circuit or criminal court judge a written statement showing all the intoxicating liquors in the sheriff's possession, setting forth the kind and quantity of the liquor and the name of the person from whom the liquor was taken if the name of the person is known to the sheriff. If the sheriff does not know the name of the person, the statement must indicate the date of the posting of the notice required by T.C.A. § 57-9-110. The court may not order the sale or destruction of any of the liquors seized until the time for filing petitions alleging ownership thereof or an interest therein has elapsed. T.C.A. § 57-9-119. When any person claims an interest in any seized liquor the court shall hear the claim without a jury and determine whether the person is entitled to the return of the liquor. However, no person is deemed to have any property right in any intoxicating liquors transported, received, or possessed in violation of the laws of this state. If the court, upon hearing any petition alleging ownership of or an interest in intoxicating liquors, ascertains that the liquor has been received, transported or possessed in violation of any law of this state, the court shall direct the sale or destruction of the liquor by the sheriff as provided by law. T.C.A. § 57-9-114. See Caneperi v. State, 89 S.W.2d 164 (Tenn. 1936); Ambrester v. State, 110 S.W.2d 332 (Tenn. 1937); Casone v. State, 140 S.W.2d 1081 (Tenn. 1940); and Alcoholic Beverage Comm’n v. Simmons, 512 S.W.2d 585 (Tenn. 1973).

The court must order the destruction of seized liquor that does not have a federal stamp on the bottle or package, or the court may order it turned over to federal authorities for evidence. If the seized liquor has a federal tax stamp but is not fit for consumption, the court shall order it to be destroyed. T.C.A. § 57-9-117. Seized liquor upon which the federal tax has been paid must be turned over to the Alcoholic Beverage Commission (ABC) for public sale by the commissioner of general services as contraband in accordance with the provisions of Title 57, Chapter 9, Part 2. T.C.A. § 57-9-115(a).

It is the duty of the sheriff to notify the ABC in writing within 10 days after the seizure of intoxicating liquors, describing the brands and quantity, and to turn over the liquor to the ABC at the time and place designated by the ABC. It is the responsibility of the ABC to provide transportation and storage for the liquor. In the event the ABC requests the sheriff to transport the liquor, all expenses incurred by the sheriff in the transportation of the liquor is borne by the ABC, and the sheriff is allowed the same mileage fee as for transporting prisoners, in addition to the other actual cost of transportation. Each sheriff, deputy sheriff or constable of any county or any police officer of any municipality who has seized and confiscated any intoxicating liquors must make an itemized list of such beverages, showing the quantity, brand, name and size of bottle, and must deliver a signed copy of the itemized list to the ABC at the time the beverages are delivered or turned over to the ABC for disposal. The agent or representative of the ABC receiving the beverages must likewise issue a receipt to the officer for the beverages. A copy of the list of beverages prepared by the officer making the seizure and confiscation must be delivered by the officer to the county mayor of the county if the seizure is made by a county officer, and a copy must be furnished to the mayor of the municipality if the seizure is made by a municipal officer. The ABC likewise must furnish the county mayor or city mayor with a copy of the list of beverages which it has received from the particular law enforcement officer. T.C.A. § 57-9-115.

All money received from the sale of the intoxicating liquors is deposited in the general fund of the state treasury provided that, in the case of all liquor captured or confiscated by a police officer of any incorporated municipality, the funds derived from the sale of the liquor, less 10 percent to be retained by the state for costs of administration, must be turned over to the municipality served by the police officer and provided further, that in the case of all liquor captured or confiscated by the sheriff, deputy sheriff or constable of any county, the funds derived from the sale of the liquor, less 10 percent to be retained by the state for costs of administration, must be turned over to the county served by the sheriff, deputy sheriff or constable. T.C.A. § 57-9-115(f). It is the duty of the sheriff to keep separate inventories of liquor captured by police officers and liquor captured by other officers so that the funds derived from the sale of the liquor may be properly divided between the county and incorporated city, town or municipality. T.C.A. § 57-9-118.

Any sheriff or deputy violating any of these provisions is guilty of a Class C misdemeanor and shall forfeit their office and be ineligible to reappointment or reelection to the same office for a period of five years. T.C.A. § 57-9-121. See Mathis v. State, 46 S.W.2d 44 (Tenn. 1932) and Broyles v. State, 341 S.W.2d 722 (Tenn. 1960).

Reference Number: CTAS-1264

Investigation of Child Abuse Cases

Any person who has knowledge that a child has been the victim of child abuse has a duty to report the abuse to the appropriate agency or official, which includes the sheriff of the county where the child resides. T.C.A. § 37-1-403(a). If the sheriff becomes aware of known or suspected child abuse through personal knowledge, receipt of a report, or otherwise, the sheriff has a duty to immediately report such information to the Department of Children’s Services. In appropriate cases, the child protective team must be notified to investigate the report. Further criminal investigation by the sheriff shall be conducted in coordination with the child protective team or the Department of Children’s Services to the maximum extent possible. T.C.A. § 37-1-403(c)). If the sheriff has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has died as a result of child abuse, the sheriff has a duty to report such suspicion to the appropriate medical examiner. The medical examiner must accept the report for investigation and must report the medical examiner's findings, in writing, to the local law enforcement agency, the appropriate district attorney general, and the Department of Children’s Services. T.C.A. § 37-1-403(d)).

All child abuse cases reported to the sheriff’s office must be referred immediately to the local director of the county office of the Department of Children’s Services for investigation.  The sheriff must also give notice of the report to the judge having juvenile jurisdiction where the child resides. If the court or the sheriff finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the child is suffering from an illness or injury or is in immediate danger from the child's surroundings and that the child's removal is necessary, appropriate protective action must be taken under Title 37, Chapter 1, Part 1 (regarding the juvenile court). Whenever there are multiple investigations, the Department of Children’s Services, the district attorney general, the sheriff’s office, and, where applicable, the child protection team, must coordinate their investigations to the maximum extent possible so that interviews with the victimized child will be kept to an absolute minimum. Reference to the audio or videotape or tapes made by the child protection team or department should be used whenever possible to avoid additional questioning of the child. T.C.A. § 37-1-405.

Investigation of Child Sexual Abuse Cases

Any person who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been sexually abused has a duty to report such knowledge or suspicion to the Department of Children’s Services. T.C.A. § 37-1-605(a). Pursuant to T.C.A. § 37-1-605(b)(1), reports of known or suspected child sexual abuse must be made immediately to the local office of the Department of Children’s Services, which is responsible for the investigation of such reports, or to the judge having juvenile jurisdiction or to the office of the sheriff or the chief law enforcement official of the municipality where the child resides. Each report of known or suspected child sexual abuse occurring in a facility licensed by the Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities or any hospital must also be made to the local law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where the alleged offense occurred.

If the sheriff becomes aware of known or suspected child sexual abuse through personal knowledge, receipt of a report or otherwise, the sheriff must immediately report such information to the Department of Children’s Services.  In addition, for the protection of the child, the child protective team must be notified to investigate the report. Further criminal investigation by the sheriff’s office must be conducted appropriately. T.C.A. § 37-1-605(b)(2). If the sheriff has reasonable cause to suspect that a child died as a result of child sexual abuse, the sheriff must report such suspicion to the appropriate medical examiner. The medical examiner must accept the report for investigation and must report the medical examiner's findings, in writing, to the local law enforcement agency, the appropriate district attorney general, and the Department of Children’s Services. T.C.A. § 37-1-605(c).

Through legislation, the General Assembly has encouraged each sheriff to establish a child sex crime investigation unit within the sheriff’s office for the purpose of investigating crimes involving the sexual abuse of children. T.C.A. § 37-1-603(b)(4)(A)(v). To further this end, as part of the annual in-service training requirement, the sheriff and every deputy must receive training in the investigation of cases involving child sexual abuse, including police response to and treatment of victims of such crimes. T.C.A. § 37-1-603(b)(4)(A)(ii).

The legislature has mandated that at least one child protective team shall be organized in each county. The Department of Children’s Services is responsible for coordinating the services of these teams. T.C.A. § 37-1-607(a)(1). Each team must be composed of one person from the Department of Children’s Services, one representative from the office of the district attorney general, one juvenile court officer or investigator from a court of competent jurisdiction, and one properly trained law enforcement officer with countywide jurisdiction (i.e., a sheriff’s deputy) from the county where the child resides or where the alleged offense occurred. It is in the best interest of the child that, whenever possible, an initial investigation shall not be commenced unless all four disciplines are represented. An initial investigation may, however, be commenced if at least two of the team members are present at the initial investigation. The team may also include a representative from one of the mental health disciplines. Furthermore, in those geographical areas in which a child advocacy center meets the requirements of T.C.A. § 9-4-213(a) or (b), child advocacy center directors or their designees shall be members of the team for the purposes of providing services and functions established by T.C.A. § 9-4-213 or delegated pursuant to that section. T.C.A. § 37-1-607(a)(2).

It is the intent of the General Assembly that child protective team investigations be conducted by team members in a manner that not only protects the child but that also preserves any evidence for future criminal prosecutions. It is essential, therefore, that all phases of the child protective investigation be conducted appropriately and that further investigations, as appropriate, be conducted and coordinated properly. T.C.A. § 37-1-607(a)(3). All state, county and local agencies must give the team access to records in their custody pertaining to the child and shall otherwise cooperate fully with the investigation. T.C.A. § 37-1-406(c).

Immediately upon receipt of a report alleging, or immediately upon learning during the course of an investigation, that child sexual abuse has occurred, or an observable injury or medically diagnosed internal injury occurred as a result of the sexual abuse, the Department of Children’s Services must orally notify the child protective team, the appropriate district attorney general and the appropriate law enforcement agency.  Criminal investigations conducted by a law enforcement agency must be coordinated, whenever possible, with the child protective team investigation. If independent criminal investigations are made, interviews with the victimized child must be kept to an absolute minimum and, whenever possible, the videotape or tapes made by the child protective teams should be used. T.C.A. § 37-1-607(b)(3).

The sheriff may take a child into custody if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the child is a neglected, dependent or abused child, and there is an immediate threat to the child's health or safety to the extent that delay for a hearing would be likely to result in severe or irreparable harm. The sheriff may also take a child into custody if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the child may abscond or be removed from the jurisdiction of the court, and in either case, there is no less drastic alternative to removing the child from the custody of the child's parent, guardian or legal custodian available that would reasonably and adequately protect the child's health or safety or prevent the child's removal from the jurisdiction of the court pending a hearing. T.C.A. §§ 37-1-608(a), 37-1-113(a)(3), and 37-1-114(a)(2).

Reference Number: CTAS-1265

It is the duty of the sheriff to assist and cooperate with the prosecuting attorney in investigating any violation of the provisions of Title 47, Chapter 25, Part 4, including procuring evidence to support the prosecution, which may be instituted by the prosecuting attorney. For such services, the sheriff is allowed and paid the same fees for meals and travel as are usually allowed in other criminal proceedings. T.C.A. § 47-25-404.

Reference Number: CTAS-1266

It is the duty of the sheriff and the sheriff’s deputies to investigate every supposed violation of Title 63, Chapter 9, dealing with the licensing of osteopathic physicians that comes to the sheriff’s or deputy’s notice and of apprehending and arresting all violators. T.C.A. § 63-9-110(b).

Reference Number: CTAS-1267

Sheriffs, sheriff’s deputies, and employees of sheriff’s offices are required to make a reasonable effort to promptly notify the next of kin of any person who has been killed or seriously injured in an accidental manner before any statement, written or spoken, is delivered or transmitted to the press by the sheriff, sheriff’s deputy or employee, disclosing the decedent's or seriously injured person's name. For the purposes of the notification requirement, the investigating officer is responsible for making the determination, based upon the officer's personal opinion, as to whether a person is "seriously injured." Neither the officer nor the officer's employer shall incur any liability based upon the officer's opinion as to whether or not a person is seriously injured. T.C.A. § 38-1-106.

Reference Number: CTAS-1268

It is the duty of all sheriffs (and state highway patrol officers) to use all effective methods in their power to prevent the spread of forest fires. Whenever the sheriff becomes aware that there is a forest fire in the vicinity, it is the duty of the sheriff to summon a sufficient number of the male citizens of the county in which the fire is burning, who are between 18 and 30 years of age, to control the fire. The sheriff is to be in complete charge and direction of the efforts to restrain the fire until duly relieved by Division of Forestry personnel. T.C.A. § 68-102-145.

 

Reference Number: CTAS-1269

In 2004 and 2005, the General Assembly passed several bills relating to the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine. Each of these new laws included new duties for Tennessee’s sheriffs.

Public Chapter 855 of the Acts of 2004 gives the sheriff the authority to quarantine any property or any structure or room in any structure on any property located in the county where the manufacture of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, and salts of its isomers is occurring or has occurred. If the sheriff quarantines such property, the sheriff becomes responsible for posting signs indicating that the property has been quarantined and, to the extent they can be reasonably identified, for notifying all parties having any right, title or interest in the quarantined property, including any lienholders.  T.C.A. § 68-212-503(b). Once the property has been quarantined it must remain quarantined until a certified industrial hygienist or other qualified person or entity certifies to the sheriff that the property is safe for human use. T.C.A. § 68-212-505.

Public Chapter 18 of the Acts of 2005 enacted the Meth-Free Tennessee Act of 2005. The act amends T.C.A. § 68-212-503 to clarify that the purpose of the provision allowing for the quarantine of properties where methamphetamine manufacturing has occurred is to prevent people from being exposed to the hazards associated with methamphetamine and the chemicals associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine. The act also amends Title 68, Chapter 212, Part 5, by adding a new section that requires the sheriff, within seven days of issuing an order of quarantine, to transmit to the commissioner of environment and conservation the following minimal information regarding the site: date of the quarantine order, county, address, name of the owner of the site, and a brief description of the site (single family home, apartment, motel, wooded area, etc.). The sheriff must also notify the commissioner once the quarantine has been lifted.

Public Chapter 347 of the Acts of 2005 requires the sheriff, after quarantining real property or any structure or room in any structure on any real property due to the manufacture of meth, to file for recording a Notice of Methamphetamine Lab Quarantine in the office of county register in the county in which the real property or any portion thereof lies.

Reference Number: CTAS-1270

Public Chapter 921 of the Acts of 2004 enacted the Tennessee Sexual Offender and Violent Sexual Offender Registration, Verification, and Tracking Act of 2004. Public Chapter 316 of the Acts of 2005 amended the act. The act requires offenders who live, work, or attend college in the county to register in person at the sheriff’s office.  Homeless offenders are also subject to the registration requirements of the act. Offenders who are incarcerated in the county jail must register in person with the sheriff or the sheriff’s designee within 48 hours prior to the offender’s release. Offenders who are committed to mental health institutions or continuously confined to home or healthcare facilities due to mental or physical disabilities are exempt from the registration requirement of the act. T.C.A. § 40-39-203. The information that must be collected from each offender is set forth in T.C.A. § 40-39-203(i). All data received from the offender, as required by the TBI and T.C.A. § 40-39-203(i), must be entered in to the TIES (Internet) within 12 hours of receipt.  T.C.A. § 40-39-204(a). Within three days of an offender's initial registration, the sheriff must send the original signed TBI registration form to the TBI headquarters in Nashville by U.S. mail. T.C.A. § 40-39-203(k). The sheriff is required to retain a duplicate copy of the TBI registration form as a part of the business records of the sheriff’s office.  T.C.A. § 40-39-204(d).

The act requires all violent sexual offenders under the jurisdiction of the sheriff to report in person to the sheriff’s office at least once during the months of March, June, September, and December of each calendar year and all sexual offenders to report in person to the sheriff’s office once a year no earlier than seven calendar days before and no later than seven calendar days after the offender’s date of birth to update their fingerprints, palm prints and photograph, as deemed necessary by the sheriff, and to verify the continued accuracy of the information in the TBI registration form. During the March reporting period, violent sexual offenders are required to pay an administrative fee not to exceed $100. Sexual offenders pay the administrative fee during their annual reporting period. This fee is to be retained by the sheriff to purchase equipment, to defray personnel and maintenance costs, or for any other expenses incurred as a result of implementing the act. Violent sexual offenders and sexual offenders who reside in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and offenders committed to mental health institutions or continuously confined to home or healthcare facilities due to mental or physical disabilities are exempt from the in-person reporting and administrative fee  requirement. T.C.A. § 40-39-204(b) and (c).

All data received from the offender, as required by the TBI and T.C.A. § 40-39-203(i), must be entered into the TIES (Internet) within 12 hours of receipt. T.C.A. § 40-39-204(a).  Within three days of a violent sexual offender's quarterly reporting date or a sexual offender’s annual reporting date, the sheriff must send the original signed TBI registration form to the TBI headquarters in Nashville by U.S. mail. The sheriff is required to retain a duplicate copy of the TBI registration form as a part of the business records of the sheriff’s office. T.C.A. § 40-39-204(d).

Reference Number: CTAS-1271

Sheriffs are required by statute to submit to the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reports setting forth their activities in connection with law enforcement and criminal justice, including uniform crime reports. T.C.A. § 38-10-102. The refusal to make any report or do any act required by any provision of Title 38, Chapter 10, is deemed to be nonfeasance of office and subjects the official to removal from office. T.C.A. § 38-10-105.

 

Reference Number: CTAS-1272

It is the duty of the sheriff and every deputy sheriff who receives a report based on reliable information that any motor vehicle has been stolen to report the theft of the vehicle to the Department of Safety immediately after receiving the information. Any officer who recovers or upon receiving information of the recovery of any motor vehicle, chassis, engine, transmission or other parts and accessories taken from a vehicle that has previously been reported stolen must, immediately after receiving the information, report the recovery of the vehicle to the Department of Safety. Reports of the theft of any motor vehicle and the recovery of any motor vehicle are to be made to the Tennessee Highway Patrol dispatcher in the area in which the theft or recovery occurred. T.C.A. § 55-5-101(a)(1) - (3).

It is the duty of the sheriff to file and maintain reports of motor vehicle thefts and the recovery of stolen motor vehicles. These reports are to include, but are not limited to, available information as to ownership and the address of the owner; make, year and color of the vehicle; the license number and manufacturer's identification number; the date of theft or recovery; the name of person reporting the theft and location where the theft occurred; the name of the person reporting the recovery of the vehicle and the location of the recovery; the condition of the vehicle at the place of the recovery and a list of any parts or accessories found adjacent to the recovered vehicle; and the name and the location of any wrecker or garage operator pulling or storing the vehicle, its parts or accessories. T.C.A. § 55-5-101(a)(4). It is the further duty of the sheriff to transmit the aforementioned information pertaining to the theft or recovery of any motor vehicle, its chassis, engine, transmission or other parts and accessories, to the Tennessee Highway Patrol dispatcher in the area in which the theft or recovery occurred. T.C.A. § 55-5-101(a)(5). It is the duty of both the Department of Safety and the sheriff receiving information of the recovery of any motor vehicle, its chassis, engine, transmission, or other parts and accessories, to report the recovery to the owner. T.C.A. § 55-5-101(a)(6).

Reference Number: CTAS-1273

Another duty of the sheriff, as it relates to both attending the courts and serving process, is summoning the jury. When the venire for the grand and petit jurors for any term of criminal court or circuit court has been drawn, the clerk of the court issues the state's writ of venire facias to the sheriff containing the names of the jurors drawn, commanding the sheriff to summon the jurors for the term of court for which they were drawn. The clerk must swear the sheriff when delivering the writ to keep secret the names of the jurors to be summoned. Summons is to be made by personal service or by sending by registered or certified mail to the regular address of the persons selected as jurors notice of their selection for jury duty. Service by mail must be mailed at least five days prior to the date fixed for their appearance for such jury service. The cost will be paid as are other costs of summoning jurors. In counties where jurors are selected by mechanical or electronic means pursuant to T.C.A. §§ 22-2-302 and 22-2-304, the sheriff is required to send the summons by first-class mail to the regular address of each person selected as a juror giving notice of the person's selection for jury duty. This summons must be mailed at least 10 days prior to the date fixed for the person's appearance for jury service. T.C.A. § 22-2-305.

If at a regular or special term of the court having criminal jurisdiction the required number of jurors cannot be obtained from the venire because of the disqualification of the proposed jurors or other cause, the clerk of the court will produce in open court the jury box and draw the number of names deemed by the judge sufficient to complete the juries. This process will, if necessary, continue until the grand and petit juries are completed. However, instead of following this procedure, the judge may furnish a sufficient number of names of persons to be summoned to the sheriff, or the judge may direct the sheriff to summon a sufficient number to complete the juries. T.C.A. § 22-2-310(c).

Whenever the presiding judge of the circuit or criminal court is satisfied that a jury cannot be obtained from the regular panel for the trial of a case, the judge may, before the case is assigned for hearing, cause the jury box to be opened by the clerk in the judge's presence in the clerk's office, and have the clerk draw a sufficient number of names as the judge deems sufficient to obtain a jury. The court clerk will then give this list to the sheriff whose duty it is to summon those whose names were drawn. If the jury cannot be made up from the panel drawn and summoned and the regular panel in attendance, another panel may be drawn and so on until the jury is completed or the jury box is exhausted. If, after the regular jury venire summoned for the term becomes exhausted, it becomes necessary to have additional jurors from which to select a jury to try a particular case or cases pending, the presiding judge may in the judge's discretion select from citizens of the county or direct the sheriff to summon people of the judge's selection whose names were not selected from the jury box. Neither the judge nor the sheriff are allowed to place on this list the name of any person who seeks either directly or indirectly, personally or through another, to be summoned as a juror, and such solicitations operate to disqualify such person for jury service. T.C.A. § 22-2-310(c).

It is a Class A misdemeanor for the sheriff or any of the sheriff's deputies to divulge any secrets of proceedings of the jury commissioners or to notify anyone what name, or names, constitute the panel or any part of it, or any name or names drawn from the jury box for service at any term of court or in any case pending in court, except where jury panel list publication is required under T.C.A. § 22-2-306, or fail to perform any duty imposed by Title 22, Chapter 2. Upon the conviction of a violation of this statute, such officer shall be removed from office and will be ineligible to hold any state or county office for a period of five years. T.C.A. § 22-2-102(b).

Reference Number: CTAS-1274

It is the duty of the sheriff to transport those who have been certified for emergency involuntary admission under Title 33, Chapter 6, Part 4, or nonemergency involuntary admission under Title 33, Chapter 6, Part 5, unless the person can be transported by (1) a secondary transportation agent designated by the sheriff, (2) a municipal law enforcement agency that meets the requirements for a secondary transportation agent and is designated by the sheriff, (3) a person authorized under other provisions of Title 33, or (4) one or more friends, neighbors, other mental health professionals familiar with the person, relatives of the person, or a member of the clergy. T.C.A. § 33-6-901. If a mandatory prescreening agent, physician, or licensed psychologist with health service provider designation who is acting under T.C.A. § 33-6-404(3)(B) determines that the person does not require physical restraint or vehicle security, then any person identified in number (4) above, rather than the sheriff, may transport the person at the transporter's expense.

The sheriff is authorized by statute to designate a secondary transportation agent or agents for the county to transport people with mental illness or serious emotional disturbance whom a physician or mandatory prescreening authority has evaluated and determined do not require physical restraint or vehicle security. The secondary transportation agent must be available 24 hours per day, provide adequately for the safety and security of the person to be transported, and provide appropriate medical conditions for transporting persons for involuntary hospitalization. When designating a secondary transportation agent or a municipal law enforcement agency, the sheriff must  take into account both its funding and the characteristics of the individuals who will be transported. A secondary transportation agent has the same duties and authority as the sheriff under Title 33, Chapter 6, in detaining and transporting such persons. The sheriff must consult with the county mayor before designating a secondary transportation agent. T.C.A. § 33-6-901(a).

The transportation of people to be involuntarily hospitalized is the responsibility of the county in which the person is initially detained. However, the sheriff or secondary transportation agent providing transportation may bill the county of residence for transportation costs. T.C.A. § 33-6-901(b).

EMERGENCY INVOLUNTARY ADMISSION. If the person who has been certified for emergency involuntary admission under T.C.A. § 33-6-404 is not already at the treatment facility where it is proposed that they are to be admitted, the medical professional who completed the certificate of need must give the original copy of the certificate to the sheriff or the designated transportation agent and turn the patient over to the custody of the sheriff or the designated transportation agent for transportation to a hospital or treatment facility that has available accommodations. Transportation to a state-owned or operated hospital or treatment facility may not commence without a certificate of need executed by a mandatory prescreening agent or by a physician or psychologist. T.C.A. § 33-6-406(a).

Before leaving with the patient, the sheriff or transportation agent must notify the hospital or treatment facility where the patient is being taken that the patient is coming, where the patient is currently, and an estimated time of arrival. If the sheriff or transportation agent has given the required notice and arrives at the hospital or treatment facility within the anticipated time of arrival, then the sheriff or transportation agent is required to remain at the hospital or treatment facility only long enough for the patient to be evaluated for admission but not longer than 1 hour and 45 minutes. After 1 hour and 45 minutes, the patient is the responsibility of the evaluating hospital or treatment facility, and the sheriff or transportation agent may leave. If the sheriff or transportation agent has not given the required notice or has not arrived within the anticipated time of arrival, the sheriff or transportation agent must remain at the hospital or treatment facility for as long as it takes to complete the evaluation for admission. T.C.A. § 33-6-406(b)(1) - (2). In Shelby County the sheriff or transportation agent is relieved of further transportation duties after the person has been delivered to the hospital or treatment facility, and the transportation duties are assumed by appropriate personnel of the hospital or treatment facility. T.C.A. § 33-6-406(b)(3).

If, after evaluation, the person is not subject to admission and the sheriff or transportation agent is still under a duty to remain at the hospital or facility, the sheriff or transportation agent must return the patient to the county from which the person was transported. If, after evaluation, the person is not subject to admission and the sheriff or transportation agent is no longer under a duty to wait at the hospital or facility, the hospital or facility has the responsibility to return the person to the county from which the person was transported. T.C.A. § 33-6-407(c) and (d).

NONEMERGENCY INVOLUNTARY ADMISSION. When a person is about to be admitted to a hospital or treatment facility under the provisions of Title 33, Chapter 6, Part 5, the court will arrange the transportation of the person to the hospital. Whenever practicable, the person to be hospitalized will be permitted to be accompanied by one or more friends or relatives, who must travel at their own expense. Any reputable and trustworthy relative or friend of the person who will assume responsibility for the person's safe delivery may be allowed to transport the person to the hospital if such relative or friend will do so at their own expense. T.C.A. § 33-6-902(a).

Pending removal to a hospital, a person with mental illness or serious emotional disturbance taken into custody or ordered to be hospitalized under Title 33, Chapter 6, Part 5, may be detained in the person's home or in some suitable facility under such reasonable conditions as the court may order, but the person shall not be detained in a nonmedical facility used for the detention of those charged with or convicted of criminal offenses. Reasonable measures necessary to assure proper care of a person temporarily detained, including provision for medical care, must be taken. T.C.A. § 33-6-902(b).

Reference Number: CTAS-1275

Transportation of Juveniles to Youth Development Centers

Counties are responsible for the expense of transporting delinquent children not found to have committed offenses punishable in the penitentiary. The fee the sheriff is allowed for transporting children found to have committed offenses punishable in the penitentiary to youth development centers is the same fee allowed by law for carrying prisoners to the penitentiary. When any female child is to be transported to a youth development center, the sheriff must deputize a suitable woman of good moral character to convey the child.  In the event the sheriff cannot find such a woman in the county, the Department of Children’s Services must provide a proper and suitable escort for the child, and this escort is paid from the allowance provided for the sheriff. The expense of the woman so deputized is paid from the allowance for the sheriff. T.C.A. § 37-5-205.

Transportation of Juveniles for Post-Commitment Hearings

A juvenile in the custody of the Department of Children's Services pursuant to a commitment by a juvenile court of this state may petition for post-commitment relief under Title 37, Part 3. T.C.A. § 37-1-302. It is the duty of the sheriff of the county where such proceedings are pending to receive and transport the juvenile to and from the institution that has custody of the juvenile and the courthouse if the court so orders or if for any reason the superintendent of the institution is unable to transport the petitioner. The sheriff is entitled to the same costs allowed for the transportation of prisoners as provided in criminal cases upon presentation of the account certified by the judge and district attorney general. T.C.A. § 37-1-310(b). See also T.C.A. § 8-26-108.

Reference Number: CTAS-1276

Ex officio services are defined as “those duties performed by an officer for the compensation of which no express provision is made by law; services for which the law provides no remuneration.” Hagan v. Black, 17 S.W.2d 908, 909 (Tenn. 1929). In the case of George v. Harlan, 1998 WL 668637, *2 (Tenn. 1998), the Tennessee Supreme Court defined ex officio services as those services not required by statute and defined ex officio duties as nonstatutory duties. The Court noted that the “duties which the common law annexes to the office of sheriff for which no fee or charge is specified in payment are generally referred to as ‘ex officio’ duties or services. George at *3, citing State ex rel. Windham v. LaFever, 486 S.W.2d 740, 742 (Tenn. 1972); and Hagan v. Black, 17 S.W.2d 908, 909 (1929). The compensation of a sheriff for ex officio services is to be determined by the county legislative body. Shanks v. Hawkins, 22 S.W.2d 355 (Tenn. 1929).

Workhouse Superintendent

When the jail in any county has been declared a workhouse, as provided in T.C.A. § 41-2-102, the sheriff becomes the ex officio superintendent of the workhouse.  T.C.A. § 41-2-108. It is the duty of the workhouse superintendent to: (1) discharge each prisoner as soon as the prisoner's time is out, or upon order of the board of workhouse commissioners; (2) see that the prisoners are properly guarded to prevent escape; (3) see that they are kindly and humanely treated and properly provided with clothing, wholesome food properly cooked and prepared for eating three times a day when at work; (4) see that they are warmly and comfortably housed at night and in bad weather; (5) see that when sick they have proper medicine and medical treatment and, in case of death, are decently buried; and (6) keep the males separate from the females. T.C.A. § 41-2-109.

Reference Number: CTAS-1277
Reference Number: CTAS-1278

The sheriff has the authority to assign deputies to a judicial district or multijudicial district task force relating to the investigation and prosecution of drug and violent crime cases. Such assignment must be made in writing by the sheriff but does not become effective until approved by the board of directors or governing or advisory board of the task force or the district attorneys general of the judicial district. T.C.A. § 8-7-110(a).

Reference Number: CTAS-1279

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 39-17-1315(a)(1), the sheriff has the authority to authorize the carry of handguns by bonded and sworn deputy sheriffs who have successfully completed and continue to successfully complete on an annual basis a firearm training program of at least eight hours duration. The sheriff’s authorization must be made by a written directive, a copy of which must be  retained by the sheriff’s office. Pursuant to the sheriff’s written directive, POST-certified deputy sheriffs may carry their handgun at all times, regardless of the deputy’s regular duty hours or assignments. Nothing in T.C.A. § 39-17-1315(a)(1) prohibits the sheriff from placing restrictions on when or where a deputy may carry his or her service handgun.

POST-certified deputy sheriffs and commissioned reserve deputy sheriffs may carry firearms at all times and in all places within Tennessee, on-duty or off-duty, regardless of the deputy’s regular duty hours or assignments, except as provided by T.C.A. § 39-17-1350(c) (see below), federal law, lawful orders of court or the written directive of the sheriff. T.C.A. § 39-17-1350(a) and (d).

The authority conferred by T.C.A. § 39-17-1350 does not extend to a deputy sheriff or commissioned reserve deputy sheriff:

  1. Who is not engaged in the actual discharge of official duties as a law enforcement officer and carries a firearm onto school grounds or inside a school building during regular school hours unless the officer immediately informs the principal that the officer will be present on school grounds or inside the school building and in possession of a firearm. If the principal is unavailable, the notice may be given to an appropriate administrative staff person in the principal's office;
  2. Who is consuming beer or an alcoholic beverage or who is under the influence of beer, an alcoholic beverage, or a controlled substance or controlled substance analogue; or
  3. Who is not engaged in the actual discharge of official duties as a law enforcement officer while attending a judicial proceeding.

T.C.A. § 39-17-1350(c). See Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 10-111 (November 3, 2010). See also T.C.A. §§ 39-17-1305; 39-17-1306; 39-17-1309; and 39-17-1311; 39-17-1321. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 99-024 (February 16, 1999).

Reference Number: CTAS-1280

The sheriff is authorized by statute to dispose of all abandoned, stolen, and recovered or worthless property that remains unclaimed in the sheriff's custody and possession by virtue of confiscation, abandonment, or having been stolen and recovered. Such property may not be disposed of until a period of six months has elapsed from date of acquisition of the property by the sheriff. Prior to disposing of such property, the sheriff must make a reasonable effort to locate the true owner of the property and notify the owner of the sheriff's possession of the property. When located, the true owner must claim the property within a reasonable time. However, the sheriff is prohibited from returning any property to the owner, even if known, if the return of the property would be contrary to the public welfare. In the event that the owner of such property cannot be located, the sheriff must present to a judge of one of the criminal courts of the county a list of all such property to be disposed of, together with an affidavit that the sheriff has made a reasonable search for the true owner thereof and that the true owner cannot be located.  The sheriff must then procure an order from the court directing the manner in which such property is to be disposed of. Proceeds from the disposition of such property must be paid over to the general fund of the county. T.C.A. § 8-8-501. See also T.C.A. § 66-29-101 et seq.

Reference Number: CTAS-1281

For Disposition of Stolen Property in Possession of Pawnbroker, please see Recovery of Stolen Property.

Reference Number: CTAS-1282

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 8-8-212(c)(1), the sheriff is authorized to enter into agreements with other law enforcement agencies, including, but not limited to, other county sheriff’s offices, for the exchange of law enforcement officers when required for a particular purpose. Exchanged officers must be covered by liability insurance by the agency of their regular employment or by the agency to which the officers are being assigned. Responding officers under these agreements may be deputized by the requesting sheriff without making application to the court provided that the exchanged officers may serve in such capacity only for the time necessary to complete the particular purpose for which the exchange was made. Law enforcement officers exchanged under T.C.A. § 8-8-212(c) shall not be deemed to be special deputies. T.C.A. § 8-8-212(c)(2).

Reference Number: CTAS-1283

The sheriff is authorized to inspect the records of a gun dealer relating to transfers of firearms in the course of a reasonable inquiry during a criminal investigation or under the authority of a properly authorized subpoena or search warrant. T.C.A. § 39-17-1316(k).

Reference Number: CTAS-1284

All pawnbrokers are required to record certain information at the time of making a pawn transaction or a buy-sell transaction. T.C.A. § 45-6-209(b). These records must be delivered to the appropriate law enforcement agency by mail or in person, or electronically if requested by the law enforcement agency, within 48 hours following the day the transactions were made. In addition, these records must be made available for inspection each business day, except Sunday, by the sheriff of the county and the chief of police of the municipality in which the pawnshop is located. T.C.A. §§ 45-6-209(d) and (e); 45-6-213(a); and 45-6-221.

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 45-6-209(b)(7), a pilot project has been established in Knox and Shelby counties that requires the pawnbroker to take the right thumbprint of the pledgor at the time of making the pawn or buy-sell transaction. If taking the right thumbprint is not possible the pawnbroker must take a fingerprint from the left thumb or another finger and must identify on the pawn ticket which finger has been used. A thumb or fingerprint taken pursuant to T.C.A. § 45-6-209(b)(7) must be maintained by the pawnbroker for a period of five years from the date of the pawn transaction.

In Knox and Shelby counties, if the pawn transaction involves a firearm, the pawnbroker must exclude from the information sent to the sheriff’s office or police department the name, address and identification numbers of the pledgor pawning the firearm. The name, address and identification numbers of the pledgor must remain with the pawnbroker along with the pledgor's thumbprint. A law enforcement officer inspecting a record involving a firearm may not take or record the name, address and identification numbers of the pledgor except pursuant to a subpoena. T.C.A. § 45-6-209(g)(1). If a court grants the request of a law enforcement officer for a subpoena to require production of the thumbprint of a pledgor taken and maintained by the pawnbroker, the pawnbroker must supply the law enforcement officer with the name, address and identification numbers of the pledgor whose thumbprint was subpoenaed. T.C.A. § 45-6-209(g)(2).

The attorney general has opined that a city does not have the authority to adopt an ordinance requiring the pledgor in a pawn transaction to place a thumbprint on the pawnbroker’s copy of the pawn transaction. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. 00-071 (April 11, 2000). Nor does a city have the authority to adopt an ordnance requiring the pledgor in a pawn transaction to place a thumbprint on a form separate from the pawn ticket to be maintained by the pawnbroker and made available to law enforcement authorities. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. 00-167 (Oct. 26, 2000).

Reference Number: CTAS-1285

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 7-51-1107, the sheriff is empowered to conduct investigations of people engaged in the operation of any adult-oriented establishment and inspect the license of the operators and establishment for compliance with Title 7, Chapter 51, Part 11.

Reference Number: CTAS-1286

Motor Vehicles - Impounding

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 55-5-129, the sheriff has the authority to impound any vehicle after determining the existence of any one or more of the following factors:

  1. The registration plate displayed on the vehicle is stolen or is otherwise not registered to such vehicle; or
  2. The renewal decal displayed on the vehicle is stolen or is otherwise not registered to such vehicle.

However, law enforcement personnel must secure the permission of the owner of any private property before entering onto private property for the purpose of impounding a vehicle.

As used in T.C.A. § 55-5-129, "impound" means removing a vehicle from a private parking lot adjacent to a street, alley, highway, or thoroughfare by a uniformed deputy to the nearest garage or other place of safety or to a garage designated or maintained by the sheriff’s office. The provisions of T.C.A. §§ 55-16-105 and 55-16-106 govern the disposition of any vehicle impounded pursuant to T.C.A. § 55-5-129.

Motor Vehicles - Taking Possession of Abandoned Vehicles .

The sheriff is authorized by statute to take into custody any motor vehicle found abandoned, immobile, or unattended on public or private property.  In doing so, the sheriff may employ his or her own personnel, equipment and facilities or hire personnel, equipment, and facilities for the purpose of removing, preserving and storing abandoned, immobile, or unattended motor vehicles. T.C.A. § 55-16-104. A vehicle may not be towed without the authorization of the owner of the vehicle until 12 hours have elapsed since it was first observed to be immobile or unattended unless the vehicle is creating a hazard, is blocking access to public or private property, or is parked illegally. T.C.A. § 55-16-111.

Within three (3) business days of taking an abandoned, immobile, or unattended motor vehicle into custody, the sheriff’s office must verify ownership of the vehicle.  After receiving verification of ownership, the sheriff's department must within three (3) business days notify, by registered mail, return receipt requested, the last known registered owner of the motor vehicle and all lienholders of record that the vehicle has been taken into custody. The notice must describe the year, make, model and serial number of the motor vehicle; set forth the location of the facility where the motor vehicle is being held; inform the owner and any lienholders of their right to reclaim the motor vehicle within 10 days after the date of the notice upon payment of all towing, preservation and storage charges resulting from placing the vehicle in custody; and state that the failure of the owner or lienholders to exercise their right to reclaim the vehicle within the time provided shall be deemed a waiver by the owner and all lienholders of all right, title and interest in the vehicle and consent to the sale of the motor vehicle at a public auction.  T.C.A. § 55-16-105(a).

In the event that there is no response to the notice by registered mail provided for in T.C.A. § 55-16-105(a), then there must be notice by one publication in one newspaper of general circulation in the area where the motor vehicle was abandoned, immobile, or unattended.  Such notice must be in a small display ad format, but one advertisement may contain multiple listings of abandoned, immobile, or unattended vehicles. T.C.A. § 55-16-105(c).

The sheriff’s office is not required to comply with the requirements of T.C.A. § 55-16-105(a)  if it provides pre-seizure notice to the owner of the motor vehicle and all lienholders of record that the vehicle has been found to be abandoned, immobile, or unattended. Any pre-seizure notice must be sent by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the owner of record and to all lienholders of record. The notice must be written in plain language and must contain the year, make, model and vehicle identification number of the motor vehicle, if ascertainable; the location of the motor vehicle; and a statement advising the owner that the owner has 10 days to appeal the determination by the sheriff’s office that the vehicle is abandoned, immobile, or unattended or to remove the vehicle from the property, or the sheriff’s office will take the vehicle into custody. The notice must further inform the owner and any lienholders of their right to reclaim the motor vehicle after it is taken into custody but before it is sold or demolished, upon payment of all towing, preservation, storage or any other charges resulting from placing the vehicle in custody, and state that the failure of the owner or lienholders to exercise their right to reclaim the vehicle shall be deemed a waiver by the owner and all lienholders of all right, title and interest in the vehicle and consent to demolition of the vehicle or its sale at a public auction. If the owner or lienholder cannot be located through the exercise of due diligence, notice by publication must be given as set out in T.C.A. § 55-16-105(c). If the owner or lienholder of an abandoned, immobile, or unattended motor vehicle fails to appeal the determination that the vehicle is abandoned, immobile, or unattended or fails to remove the motor vehicle within the time allowed for an appeal, the sheriff’s office may take the vehicle into custody. If an appeal is made, the motor vehicle may not be taken into custody while the appeal is pending. Failure to appeal within the specific time period shall, without exception, constitute waiver of the right of appeal. T.C.A. § 55-16-105(b).

When the sheriff, deputy sheriff, or towing company contracting with the sheriff’s office takes possession of a vehicle found abandoned, immobile, or unattended, an employee of the sheriff’s office must verify ownership of the vehicle through the Tennessee Information Enforcement System (TIES) and must place the ownership information on the towing sheet or form. The sheriff’s office must also provide the ownership information to any towing company or garagekeeper with whom the sheriff’s office has a contract. If the sheriff’s office attempts to verify ownership information through the Tennessee Information Enforcement System and the response is "Not on File," the sheriff’s office must contact the Department of Safety Title and Registration Division which will search records not contained in Tennessee Information Enforcement System for the ownership information.  If the Title and Registration Division locates ownership information through this search, it will notify the sheriff’s office, and the sheriff’s office must distribute the information as discussed above. T.C.A. § 55-16-105(f).

In addition to the notification requirements set forth in T.C.A. § 55-16-105(a), any garagekeeper or towing firm that has in its possession an abandoned, immobile or unattended motor vehicle taken into custody by the sheriff’s office, and in whose possession the vehicle was lawfully placed by the sheriff’s office, must, within three (3) business days of taking such motor vehicle into its possession verify ownership of the vehicle.  After receiving verification of ownership, the garagekeeper or towing firmmust within three (3) business days provide notice to the last known registered owner of the motor vehicle and all lienholders of record. All the notification requirements included in T.C.A. § 55-16-105(a) apply to the notice required to be provided by a garagekeeper or towing firm. T.C.A. § 55-16-105(g).

Reference Number: CTAS-1287

When a security guard is working in a county other than the security guard's primary county, the sheriff of the county in which the security guard is working must be notified in writing by the employer of the security guard within five days of the date of first service where the security guard will be assigned and the length of the assignment, unless other arrangements are made with the sheriff. In Davidson County the chief of police must be notified. The sheriff and his or her deputies are required to recognize the state-issued security armed card as valid in their jurisdiction while any security guard is traveling to or from a job site and while performing duties while at the job site, or while any representative of a security company, supervisor or officers are traveling to or from job sites or operating as a street patrol service. T.C.A. § 62-35-131(b).

The sheriff may require an individual to present proof of compliance with Title 62, Chapter 35. However, the sheriff is required to waive the provisions relative to training for those individuals properly and duly registered and in possession of a valid armed registration card. But, if a valid objection exists, the sheriff must inform the commissioner of commerce and insurance or the commissioner's designee within 10 days and provide a written explanation of the sheriff's objection. A security guard may not work in any jurisdiction in which the sheriff has a pending objection to the training qualifications of the security guard.  T.C.A. § 62-35-131(c) and (d).

Reference Number: CTAS-1288

Subject to the discretion of the court, where there is a final judgment of conviction, the sheriff is authorized, upon process issued by the court having jurisdiction over the property, to seize any conveyance, including a vehicle, aircraft or vessel that was used to transport, conceal or store money or goods that were the subject of a robbery offense under Title 39, Chapter 13, Part 4, or felony theft under Title 39, Chapter 14, Part 1. Seizure without process may be made if the seizure is incident to an arrest or a search under a search warrant. T.C.A. §§ 40-33-101 and 40-33-102.

A conveyance taken or detained by the sheriff under T.C.A. § 40-33-102 is not subject to replevin but is deemed to be in the custody of the sheriff, subject only to the orders and decrees of the court that has jurisdiction over the property. T.C.A. §§ 40-33-104(a) and 40-33-106. See Knobler v. Knobler, 697 S.W.2d 583, 586 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1985) (Property is in custodia legis if it has been lawfully taken by virtue of legal process.). When the sheriff seizes a conveyance pursuant to T.C.A. § 40-33-102, the sheriff may (1) place the conveyance under seal, (2) remove the conveyance to a place designated by the court; or (3) take custody of the conveyance and remove it to an appropriate location for disposition in accordance with law. T.C.A. § 40-33-104(b).

When the sheriff seizes a conveyance pursuant to T.C.A. § 40-33-102, the sheriff is required to give the person in possession of the conveyance, if any, a receipt. The receipt must state a general description of the seized conveyance, the reasons for the seizure, the procedure by which recovery of the conveyance may be sought, including the time period in which a claim for recovery must be presented, and the consequences of failing to file within the time period. If the person found in possession of the conveyance is not the sole unencumbered owner of the conveyance, the court having jurisdiction over the property is required to make a reasonable effort to notify the owner or lienholder of the seizure by furnishing all parties known to have an interest in the conveyance with a copy of the receipt. A copy of the receipt must be filed with the clerk of the court having jurisdiction over the property and shall be open to the public for inspection. T.C.A. § 40-33-107(1).

Any person claiming a seized conveyance may, within 15 days after receiving notification of seizure, file with the court a claim in writing requesting a hearing and stating the person's interest in the seized conveyance. The claimant must also file a cost bond with one or more good and solvent sureties in the sum of $250 made payable to the state. An indigent person may file a claim in forma pauperis by filing an affidavit stating that they are unable to bear the cost of the proceeding. T.C.A. § 40-33-107(3). The court must set a date for a hearing within 45 days from the day a claim requesting a hearing is filed. T.C.A. § 40-33-107(4). See also T.C.A. § 40-33-108. In the event the decision of the court is favorable to the claimant, the clerk of the court is required to deliver the seized conveyance to the claimant. If the ruling of the court is adverse to the claimant, the clerk of the court directs the sheriff to sell or dispose of the conveyance. The expenses of storage, transportation, etc., are adjudged as part of the cost of the proceeding. T.C.A. § 40-33-107(5). If no claim is filed, the conveyance is forfeited without further proceedings and is sold or disposed of as provided in Title 40, Chapter 33, Part 1. T.C.A. § 40-33-109.

Reference Number: CTAS-1289

The sheriff is authorized, upon process issued by the court having jurisdiction over the property, to seize:

  1. All controlled substances that have been manufactured, distributed, dispensed or acquired in violation of Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 4 or Title 53, Chapter 11, Parts 3 and 4;
  2. All raw materials, products and equipment of any kind that are used, or intended for use, in manufacturing, compounding, processing, delivering, importing or exporting any controlled substance in violation of Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 4 or Title 53, Chapter 11, Parts 3 and 4;
  3. All property that is used, or intended for use, as a container for the property described above;
  4. All conveyances, including aircraft, vehicles or vessels, that are used, or are intended for use, to transport, or in any manner to facilitate the transportation, sale or receipt of the property described above;
  5. All books, records, and research products and materials, including formulas, microfilm, tapes and data that are used, or intended for use, in violation of Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 4 or Title 53, Chapter 11, Parts 3 and 4;
  6. Everything of value furnished, or intended to be furnished, in exchange for a controlled substance in violation of the Tennessee Drug Control Act of 1989, compiled in Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 4, and Title 53, Chapter 11, Parts 3 and 4, all proceeds traceable to such an exchange, and all moneys, negotiable instruments, and securities used, or intended to be used, to facilitate any violation of the Tennessee Drug Control Act, compiled in Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 4, and Title 53, Chapter 11, Parts 3 and 4; and
  7. All drug paraphernalia as defined by T.C.A. § 39-17-402.

T.C.A. § 53-11-451(a). See Payne v. Breuer, 891 S.W.2d 200, 203 (Tenn., 1994) (The above statute clearly requires that a warrant be obtained prior to any seizure made under it unless one of the stated exceptions applies.).

Seizure without process may be made if:

  1. The seizure is incident to an arrest or a search under a search warrant or an inspection under an administrative inspection warrant;
  2. The property subject to seizure has been the subject of a prior judgment in favor of the state in a criminal injunction or forfeiture proceeding based upon Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 4, or Title 53, Chapter 11, Parts 3 and 4;
  3. The sheriff has probable cause to believe that the property is directly or indirectly dangerous to health or safety; or
  4. The sheriff has probable cause to believe that the property was used or is intended to be used in violation of Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 4, or Title 53, Chapter 11, Parts 3 and 4.

T.C.A. § 53-11-451(b). In Fuqua v. Armour, 543 S.W.2d 64, 68 (Tenn. 1976), the Tennessee Supreme Court held that T.C.A. § 52-1443(b)(4) [the earlier version of T.C.A. § 53-11-451(b)(4)] is constitutional only if the statute is construed to include an "exigent circumstances" requirement. The court stated:

T.C.A. § 52-1443(b)(4) should not be construed as authorizing the seizure of an automobile without a warrant under circumstances such as those disclosed in the facts of this case. The fact that probable cause exists for seizure is not enough; there must also exist “exigent circumstances”; therefore, T.C.A. § 52-1443(b)(4) should be construed as authorizing a seizure without a warrant, upon probable cause, only when “exigent circumstances” exist justifying summary seizure. “No amount of probable cause can justify a warrantless search or seizure, absent ‘exigent circumstances.’” Coolidge v. New Hampshire, [403 U.S. 443, 468 (1971)]. Thus construed and restricted, T.C.A. § 52-1443(b)(4) may constitutionally be applied.

Fuqua, 543 S.W.2d at 68.

Property taken or detained by the sheriff under T.C.A. § 53-11-451 is not subject to replevin but is deemed to be in the custody of the sheriff subject only to the orders and decrees of the court that has jurisdiction over the property. T.C.A. § 53-11-451(d). See State v. Vukelich, 2002 WL 31249910 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2002) (property held in custodia legis, or in the custody of the law). When the sheriff seizes property under Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 4, or Title 53, Chapter 11, Parts 3 and 4, the sheriff may (1) place the property under seal, (2) remove the property to a place designated by the sheriff; or (3) take custody of the property and remove it to an appropriate location for disposition in accordance with law. T.C.A. § 53-11-451(d). Regardless of any other method of disposition of the property, the sheriff may, with the permission of the court and under such terms and conditions as are approved by the court, use the property taken or detained in the drug enforcement program of the county. In addition, with the approval of the court having jurisdiction over the property, the sheriff may sell the property and use the proceeds for the drug enforcement program of the county. T.C.A. § 53-11-451(d)(4). See State v. Blackmon, 78 S.W.3d 322, 332 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2001) (judicial authorization to use seized property).

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 40-33-201, all personal property, including conveyances, subject to forfeiture under the provisions of T.C.A. § 53-11-451 shall be seized and forfeited in accordance with the procedure set out in Title 40, Chapter 33, Part 2. See also Rules of Tennessee Department of Safety Administrative Division, CHAPTER 1340-2-2, The Rules of Procedure for Asset Forfeiture Hearings.

Reference Number: CTAS-1292

Upon the seizure of any personal property subject to forfeiture pursuant to T.C.A. § 40-33-201, the seizing officer must prepare a receipt entitled "Notice of Seizure" and provide the person found in possession of the property, if known, a copy of the receipt. The notice of seizure is a standard form promulgated by the agency charged by law or permitted by agreement with conducting the forfeiture proceeding for the particular property seized. T.C.A. § 40-33-203(a) and (c). The notice of seizure must contain the following:

  1. A general description of the property seized and, if the property is money, the amount seized;
  2. The date the property was seized and the date the notice of seizure was given to the person in possession of the seized property;
  3. The vehicle identification number (VIN) if the property seized is a motor vehicle;
  4. The reason the seizing officer believes the property is subject to seizure and forfeiture;
  5. The procedure by which recovery of the property may be sought, including any time periods during which a claim for recovery must be submitted; and
  6. The consequences that will attach if no claim for recovery is filed within the applicable time period.

T.C.A. § 40-33-203(c). See Holt v. Young, 2001 WL 1285880, *5 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2001).

Upon the seizure of a conveyance, the seizing officer must make reasonable efforts to determine the owner or owners of the property seized as reflected by public records of titles, registrations and other recorded documents. T.C.A. § 40-33-203(b)(1). If the conveyance seized is a commercial vehicle or common or contract carrier and the person in possession of the vehicle at the time of seizure does not have an ownership interest in the vehicle, the seizing officer must make reasonable efforts to determine the owner of the conveyance and notify the owner of the seizure. If the cargo is not contraband and is not subject to forfeiture under some other provision of state or federal law, the seizing agency must release the cargo to the owner or transporting agent upon request. If the interest of the owner of the commercial vehicle or common or contract carrier is not subject to forfeiture under T.C.A. § 40-33-210(a)(2), then the vehicle or carrier is not subject to forfeiture, and the seizing officer may not seek a forfeiture warrant. The seizing agency must release the vehicle or carrier to the owner or transporting agent upon request. T.C.A. § 40-33-203(b)(2) and (b)(4). For purposes of T.C.A. § 40-33-203(b), "commercial vehicle" includes a private passenger motor vehicle that is used for retail rental for periods of 31 days or less.

If the conveyance seized is a commercial vehicle or common or contract carrier and the person in possession of the vehicle at the time of seizure has an ownership interest in the vehicle, the seizing officer must make reasonable efforts to determine the common or contract carrier responsible for conveying the cargo and notify the carrier of the seizure. If the cargo is not contraband and is not subject to forfeiture under some other provision of state or federal law, the seizing agency must release the cargo to the owner or transporting agent upon request. T.C.A. § 40-33-203(b)(3).

Reference Number: CTAS-1290

Once personal property is seized pursuant to the applicable provision of law, no forfeiture action can proceed unless a forfeiture warrant is issued in accordance with T.C.A. § 40-33-204 by a judge who is authorized to issue a search warrant. The forfeiture warrant authorizes institution of the forfeiture proceeding. T.C.A. § 40-33-204(a). General sessions judges may authorize magistrates or judicial commissioners to issue forfeiture warrants. However, prior to such authorization, the general sessions judge must train and certify that the magistrates or judicial commissioners understand the procedure and requirements relative to issuing a forfeiture warrant. T.C.A. § 40-33-204(c)(3).

The officer making the seizure must apply for a forfeiture warrant by filing an affidavit within five working days following the property seizure. The forfeiture warrant is based upon proof by affidavit and must have attached to it a copy of the Notice of Seizure. The affidavit in support of the forfeiture warrant must state the legal and factual basis making the property subject to forfeiture. If the owner or co-owner of the property was not the person in possession of the property at the time of seizure and can be determined from public records of title, registrations or other recorded documents, the affidavit must state with particular specificity the officer's probable cause for believing that the owner or co-owner of the property knew that such property was of a nature making its possession illegal or was being used in a manner making it subject to forfeiture as well as the legal and factual basis for the forfeiture of such interest. If the interest of a secured party with a duly perfected security interest as reflected in the public records of title, registration or other recorded documents is sought to be forfeited, the affidavit must state with particular specificity the officer's probable cause that the secured party's interest in the property is nevertheless subject to forfeiture as well as the legal and factual basis for the forfeiture of such interest. T.C.A. § 40-33-204(b).

If the seizing officer asserts to the judge that he or she was unable to determine the owner of the seized property or whether the owner's interest is subject to forfeiture within the required five-day period, the judge may grant up to 10 additional days to seek a forfeiture warrant. In order to grant additional time, the judge must find that the seizing officer has exercised due diligence and good faith in attempting to determine the owner of the property or whether the owner's interest is subject to forfeiture and made a factual showing that because of the existence of extraordinary and unusual circumstances an exception to the five-day forfeiture warrant requirement is justified. T.C.A. § 40-33-204(c)(2).

If the person in possession of the property is not the registered owner as determined from public records of titles, registration or other recorded documents, the judge may consider other indicia of ownership that proves that the possessor is nonetheless an owner of the property. Such other indicia of ownership shall include, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. How the parties involved regarded ownership of the property in question;
  2. The intentions of the parties relative to ownership of the property;
  3. Who was responsible for originally purchasing the property;
  4. Who pays any insurance, license or fees required to possess or operate the property;
  5. Who maintains and repairs the property;
  6. Who uses or operates the property;
  7. Who has access to use the property; and
  8. Who acts as if they have a proprietary interest in the property.

T.C.A. § 40-33-204(d).

The judge will issue the forfeiture warrant if the judge finds that the offered proof establishes probable cause to believe that the property is subject to forfeiture and if the property is owned by one whose interest is described in public records of titles, registrations or other recorded documents, that the owner's interest is subject to forfeiture. T.C.A. § 40-33-204(c)(1). Once the forfeiture warrant has been issued, the officer must, within seven working days, send the warrant, a copy of the affidavit and the notice of seizure to the Department of Safety Legal Division. The sheriff’s office must maintain a copy of the notice of seizure for all property seized at its main office. The notices and receipts are public records. T.C.A. § 40-33-204(g). If no forfeiture warrant is issued and the property is not needed for evidence in a criminal proceeding, the sheriff’s office must return the property to the owner, as determined from public records of titles, registration or other recorded documents, or if the owner cannot be determined, to the person in possession of the property at the time of seizure. T.C.A. § 40-33-204(f).

Upon receipt of the documents, the legal division will notify any other owner, as may be determined from public records of titles, registration or other recorded documents, or secured party that a forfeiture warrant has been issued. T.C.A. § 40-33-204(g). Any person asserting a claim to the seized property may, within 30 days of being notified by the legal division that a forfeiture warrant has issued, file a written claim requesting a hearing and stating the person's interest in the seized property for which a claim is made. T.C.A. § 40-33-206(a). See T.C.A. § 40-33-205 regarding interests of a secured party. Only the sheriff or the sheriff’s designee may be permitted to negotiate or enter into any type of settlement agreement or agreements prior to the forfeiture hearing. In no event may any officer involved in seizing the property be allowed to negotiate or enter into any type of settlement agreement or agreements prior to the forfeiture hearing. All negotiated settlements by the sheriff’s office are subject to the approval of the commissioner of safety. T.C.A. § 40-33-212. If a claim or proof of a security interest is not filed with the legal division within the specified time, the seized property will be forfeited and disposed of as provided by law.  T.C.A. § 40-33-206(c).

Within 30 days from the day a claim is filed, the legal division will establish a hearing date and set the case on the docket. T.C.A. § 40-33-207(a). At the hearing, if it is determined that the state has carried the burden of proof with regard to all parties claiming an interest in the property and the ruling of the commissioner of safety is adverse to the claimant or claimants, the property will be sold or disposed of as provided by law. T.C.A. § 40-33-210(d). Once property has been forfeited, it is the duty of the sheriff to remove it for disposition in accordance with the law. T.C.A. § 53-11-451(e).

Reference Number: CTAS-1291

Seizure of Vehicle Used in the Commission of DUI Offense

The sheriff is authorized to seize the vehicle used in the commission of a person's second or subsequent violation of T.C.A. § 55-10-401, or the second or subsequent violation of any combination of T.C.A. § 55-10-401 and a statute in any other state prohibiting driving under the influence of an intoxicant. Only POST-certified or state-commissioned law enforcement officers are authorized to seize such vehicles. T.C.A. § 55-10-414(a) and (d). In order for the provisions of T.C.A. § 55-10-414(a) to be applicable to a vehicle, the violation making the vehicle subject to seizure and forfeiture must occur in Tennessee within five years of the first offense, which must have occurred on or after January 1, 1997. T.C.A. § 55-10-414(b).

All vehicles subject to forfeiture under the provisions of T.C.A. § 55-10-414 shall be seized and forfeited in accordance with the procedure set out in Title 40, Chapter 33, Part 2.  T.C.A. § 40-33-201. The Department of Safety is designated as the applicable agency, as defined by T.C.A. § 40-33-202, for all forfeitures authorized by T.C.A. § 55-10-414.  See also Rules of Tennessee Department of Safety Administrative Division, CHAPTER 1340-2-2, The Rules of Procedure for Asset Forfeiture Hearings.

See Notice of Seizure and Forfeiture Warrant under Seizure of Controlled Substances and Related Property for a discussion of the applicable procedure to be used.

Seizure of Vehicle Used by Person Driving on Revoked License .

The sheriff is authorized to seize the vehicle used in the commission of a person's violation of T.C.A. § 55-50-504 when the original suspension or revocation was made for a violation of T.C.A. § 55-10-401 or a statute in another state prohibiting driving under the influence of an intoxicant. A vehicle is subject to seizure and forfeiture upon the arrest or citation of a person for driving while such person's driving privileges are cancelled, suspended or revoked. A conviction for the criminal offense of driving while such person's driving privileges are cancelled, suspended or revoked is not required. T.C.A. § 55-50-504(g).

All vehicles subject to forfeiture under the provisions of T.C.A. § 55-50-504(g) shall be seized and forfeited in accordance with the procedure set out in Title 40, Chapter 33, Part 2.  T.C.A. § 40-33-201. The Department of Safety is designated as the applicable agency, as defined by T.C.A. § 40-33-202, for all forfeitures authorized by T.C.A. § 55-50-504(g).  See also Rules of Tennessee Department of Safety Administrative Division, CHAPTER 1340-2-2, The Rules of Procedure for Asset Forfeiture Hearings.

See Notice of Seizure and Forfeiture Warrant under Seizure of Controlled Substances and Related Property for a discussion of the applicable procedure to be used.

Reference Number: CTAS-1293

Sheriffs are authorized by statute to open their shooting ranges for public use when the range is not being used by the sheriff’s personnel. The sheriff may establish reasonable regulations for use of the range in order to promote the full use of the range without interfering with the needs of the sheriff’s personnel. The sheriff may also charge a reasonable fee for people or organizations using the range and may require  users to make improvements to the range. T.C.A. § 38-8-116.

 

Reference Number: CTAS-1294

Special Deputies - Appointment Under T.C.A. § 8-8-212

On urgent occasions, or when required for particular purposes, the sheriff may appoint as many special deputies as the sheriff deems proper.  T.C.A. § 8-8-212(a).  No person may serve as a special deputy under this statute unless that person proves to the appointing sheriff financial responsibility as evidenced by a corporate surety bond in no less amount than $50,000 or by a liability insurance policy of the employer in no less amount than $50,000. T.C.A. § 8-8-303(c).

Special Deputies - Emergency Appointment Under T.C.A. § 8-22-110

In case of great emergencies, such as in the case of a strike, riot, putting down a mob, or other like emergencies, when there is an immediate need for the sheriff to appoint an additional number of deputies to deal efficiently with the situation and to preserve order, the sheriff is authorized to make emergency appointments of special deputies without making application to the court. These special deputies may serve during the term of the emergency only. Once the emergency is over, the sheriff is required to make an itemized statement showing the services of the deputies and the time during which the special deputies served. The itemized statement must be presented to the county mayor for auditing and allowance. The mayor is required to authorize payment of the claims once the mayor is satisfied with the justness of the claims provided that no special deputy appointed by the sheriff may receive more than $4 per day for services actually performed. T.C.A. § 8-22-110(b).

Reference Number: CTAS-1295

These pages provide a very general overview of Tennessee law regarding service of civil process, to examine a few of the most serious concerns in more detail, and, most importantly, to offer information that may help sheriffs avoid exposure to the legal pitfalls and liabilities that may arise if the sheriff or sheriff’s officers fail to provide effective, sufficient service and return of service of civil process.

Reference Number: CTAS-1296

The definitions below include commonly used terms related to service of process. Most are condensed or simplified when compared to their meanings as “legal terms of art.” Nearly all are found in Black’s Law Dictionary,7th Edition (1999), where they are more fully defined.

Action – Any judicial proceeding which, if conducted to the court’s final decision, will result in a judgment or decree. See also, “Suit.”

Attachment – The procedure whereby the court takes control of specific property that is located in the court’s jurisdiction.

Body Attachment - Locally used language for “Body Execution.” See below.

Body Execution – A court’s order to take a named person into custody, most often to bring the person before the court to pay a debt. Locally known as a “body attachment,” it is most often used when child support has not been paid as ordered.

Complaint – The pleading that initiates a civil action. It states the basis for the court’s jurisdiction, the basis for the plaintiff’s claim, and the demand for relief, i.e., damages.

Decree – The judgment of a court of equity or chancery. See also, “Judgment.”

Execution – The act of carrying out a court’s order. Also, judicial enforcement of a money judgment, most often through seizure and sale of the judgment debtor’s property.

Fieri Facias – Judicial writ directing the sheriff to satisfy a money judgment from the debtor’s property. A form of execution usually referred to simply as an execution.

Foreign Judgment – Any judgment, decree, or order of a court of the United States or of any other court that is entitled to full faith and credit in Tennessee.

Garnishment – An order to a third party, such as an employer, to turn over a debtor’s property (such as wages or bank accounts) held by the third party.

Indemnity Bond – A bond given by the plaintiff to protect the sheriff or other officer against all damages and costs in cases where there is a dispute regarding the title to the property upon which the sheriff is executing the levy.

Injunction – A court order prohibiting someone from doing some specified act or commanding someone to undo some wrong or injury.

Instanter Subpoena – A writ commanding the person to whom it is directed to appear before the court immediately.

Judgment – The official decision of a court of law upon the rights and claims of the parties to an action.

Judgment Creditor – A person having a legal right to enforce execution of a judgment for a specific sum of money.

Judgment Debtor – A person against whom a money judgment has been entered but not yet satisfied.

Levy – The court ordered seizure and sale of real or personal property or the money obtained from the sale, usually in order to satisfy a judgment. See also, “Levy of execution.”

Levy of Execution – See “Levy.”

“Not Found” – A return of service that signifies the defendant is believed to have left the jurisdiction for another county, state or foreign country.

“Not to Be Found in My County” – The return used when an officer cannot locate the defendant yet has no information about whether the defendant has left the jurisdiction.

Process – The means by which a defendant in a civil action is compelled to appear in court or through which a court compels compliance with its directives.

Proof of Service – An officer’s written statement of what has been done under the process issued from the court for service.  If service was made, the return must identify the person served and describe how service was accomplished. If process is returned unserved, the officer must state the reason service could not be effectuated. See also, “Return of Process.”

Return of Process – See “Proof of Service.”

Sale on Execution — The procedures whereby levied real or personal property is advertised and sold to satisfy a judgment.  See also, “Sheriff’s Sale.”

Sheriff’s Sale – See “Sale on Execution” above.

Subpoena – A writ that commands a person to appear before the court or other tribunal.

Subpoena Duces Tecum – A subpoena ordering the witness to appear and bring specified records or documents.

Suit – See “Action” above.

Summons – A writ or order commencing the plaintiff’s action that directs the defendant to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in court.

Unlawful Detainer – The unjustified retention of real property by one who was there first lawfully, such as a tenant, but who then refuses to vacate the premises despite the termination of the lease and the landlord’s demand for possession.

Writ - A court’s written order commanding the addressee to do or refrain from doing some specified act.

Writ of Attachment – An order directing the sheriff to seize the defendant’s property in order to satisfy a judgment.

Writ of Possession – A court’s order directing an officer to take specified property out of the defendant’s possession and deliver it to the plaintiff. 

Writ of Restitution – A court’s order to the sheriff, issued after a hearing, to remove the defendant (most often a tenant), by force if necessary, from the property and restore peaceful possession of the premises to the plaintiff (most often a landlord), and to make a return within 20 days of how the officer executed the writ.

Writ of Supersedeas – A writ or bond that suspends a judgment creditor’s power to levy execution, usually pending appeal.

Reference Number: CTAS-1297

If confronted with the impending loss of your home, bank account, or personal belongings, how hard would you work to neutralize the threat? This question is relevant because the statutory duty of care for executing civil process in Tennessee demands that the sheriff: 

Use, in the execution of process, a degree of diligence exceeding that which a prudent person employs in such person’s own affairs.

T.C.A. § 8-8-201(10) (emphasis added).

While a sheriff’s responsibility to serve civil process is not nearly as exciting as criminal law enforcement, nor as fraught with constitutional complications as jail operations, it is the means by which representatives of the sheriff’s office are most likely to have contact with members of the business community, landlords, public and private organizations, civil attorneys, and many government agencies. Professional, competent service and execution of process enhances the reputation of the sheriff’s office.

Conversely, disobedience of the command of the process, whether by negligence, ignorance, or indifference, not only harms the agency’s reputation but may lead to an award of money damages or findings of contempt of court against the sheriff or the sheriff’s deputies. T.C.A. § 8-8-207. It should be kept in mind that in many cases the acts of the deputy on the sheriff’s behalf are deemed to be equivalent to those of the sheriff. T.C.A. §§ 29-18-115(d)(1) and 29-20-205.

Sanctions and penalties for various missteps along the civil process pathway vary. The aggrieved party may recover full damages from the sheriff for the harm caused by failure to comply with the orders contained on the process. T.C.A. § 8-8-207. The law also provides for a $125 penalty against a sheriff who fails to execute and make return of any process issued by a general sessions court or a court of record within the time frames specified by statute. T.C.A. § 25-3-105(a)(1) and (b)(1). A sheriff or deputy who neglects or refuses to execute any process governed by Title 29 of the Code, which governs detainers, i.e., evictions, “shall forfeit $250 to the party aggrieved . . .” T.C.A. § 29-18-116. 

Congress has not laid down rules for service of process; hence, it is generally governed by state laws. Amy v. City of Watertown, 130 U.S. 301, 304, 9 S.Ct. 530, 531, 32 L.Ed. 946 (1889). The Tennessee Code Annotated and the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure set forth requirements for legally effective service of civil process. Title 8 of the Code enumerates the duties of the sheriff, but several other titles include further particulars for executing specific kinds of process. Among the Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4, “Process,” Rule 54, “Judgments and Costs,” and Rule 69, “Execution on Judgments,” are most relevant to understanding legal mandates to the sheriff regarding civil matters.

Generally, effective service of process consists of a few seemingly simple steps:

  1. Mark on all process the date it was received by the sheriff. T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(4); § 20-2-103(a).
  2. Serve the process; execute all writs and other process legally issued and directed to the sheriff. T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(5)(A).
  3. Make a timely, due return of the process, either personally or by a lawful deputy. T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(5)(A).

Judicial interpretation of the law surrounding service of process is generally well settled; many of the most cited cases reach back to Tennessee Supreme Court decisions from the 19th century.

However, the sheriff’s job is complicated by several factors. On one hand, the Rules of Civil Procedure supply detailed guidance for effective service. On the other, our state Supreme Court has held that, where a statute dealing with a particular type of judicial action contains specific provisions for process and service, that method is permissible and may be followed in lieu of the Rules. State Board of Education v. Cobb, 557 S.W.2d 276 (Tenn. 1977).  Since statutes regarding specific kinds of judicial actions are spread throughout a multitude of Tennessee Code titles, and different laws enacted at different times occasionally appear to conflict, compliance can become complicated.

The legal terms related to process and its service are generally a product of English laws dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The words themselves are often arcane, antiquated, and do not blend easily with modern vocabulary. What, for instance, might a citizen envision when advised that the sheriff has left the office to carry out a “body execution,” or is off serving a “body attachment?” Fortunately, the legal expectation for carrying out that function is far less harsh than might be contemplated by a layperson.

Another impediment for the sheriff’s staff is the occasional confusion among the counties caused by variations in local customs about what name a particular kind of process is actually called. For example, the judicial order called a “writ of restitution” in one county may be called a “writ of possession” in another, despite the fact that service, execution, and the results of those actions are exactly the same in both cases.

Reference Number: CTAS-1298

Problems related to the sheriff’s civil process duties most often arise because the process was improperly served, not served at all, or reflected an insufficient or inaccurate return. 

All civil actions, whether equitable or legal, are commenced by filing a complaint with the clerk of the appropriate court. Rules 3 and 4.01, Tenn. R. Civ. P. When the civil complaint, i.e., lawsuit, is filed, the clerk issues the required summons “forthwith.” As of July 1, 2005, a summons must be served within 90 days of the date issued, a far more relaxed rule than the prior limit of 30 days.

The summons is extraordinarily important. It gives the person to whom it is directed notice that he or she is being sued, explains the time limit within which an answer to the complaint must be filed, and warns the defendant that a default judgment will be rendered in the plaintiff’s favor if no answer is filed. Rule 4.03(1), Tenn. R. Civ. P.  Clearly, the consequences can be grave if the return indicates that summons was properly served when in fact it was not.

Rule 4 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure contains nine subsections and two addendums detailing the specific requirements for serving summons under nearly every imaginable circumstance, including, but not limited to, serving defendants within and outside the state, minors, incompetents, partnerships, corporations, the state or a state agency, the county or a municipality. Rule 4 also dictates requirements for personal service and service by mail, and mandates who is eligible to accept service in each eventuality.  It is also important to know whether a state statute exists regarding the method and means of proper service since the statute overrides the rules of civil procedure.

Reference Number: CTAS-1299

The return is made by the deputy who serves the process.  It is simply a written statement that constitutes proof of service or otherwise explains what was done under the process issued by the court for service.  David v. Reaves, 75 Tenn. 585, 590 (1881). The return must either indicate that the command of the process was fully carried out or honestly state the facts that prevented compliance. Eaken v. Boyd, 37 Tenn. 204 (1857).

Returns are to be made in ink “or some other nonerasable material or fluid.” Failure to follow this directive does not invalidate the return, but any deputy who violates the statute commits a Class A misdemeanor and is liable to any person harmed by the violation. T.C.A. § 20-2-111.

An inaccurate, carelessly made, or untruthful return is a serious matter that can lead to a damaging outcome for the parties and for the officer who may be penalized monetarily or otherwise held liable for his or her breach of duty. The return must identify the person served and describe the manner in which service was accomplished. Rule 4.03, Tenn. R. Civ. P. If the officer alleges on the return that the defendant is a resident of the county evading service of process, there must be a showing that a “diligent inquiry” was conducted, or the return is subject to be found untrue. Willshire v. Frees, 201 S.W.2d 675, 184 Tenn. 523 (1947).

In addition to the above-mentioned penalties and liabilities, T.C.A. § 25-3-101 allows for a judgment by motion to be obtained by a plaintiff against the sheriff if the sheriff or his deputy:

  1. Fail to make due and proper return of an execution;
  2. Make a false or insufficient return; or,
  3. Fail to pay over money collected on an execution.

The time limitations for service and return of process vary greatly depending on the nature of the process itself. Some, such as orders of protection, instanter subpoenas, and orders for child custody transfer, are to be carried out immediately. Other forms of process, such as summons, may allow as much as 90 days for service.

Clearly, multitudinous legal mandates exist regarding what constitutes sufficient service and return of civil process, be they found in state statutes, the rules of civil procedure, case law, opinions of the attorney general, or some other legal authority or treatise. Sheriffs can seek guidance from their county attorney or some other attorney to assist in efforts to strictly comply with those mandates, and procedural details will not be examined at great length here.

Reference Number: CTAS-1300

There are a number of limitations, boundaries, and prohibitions that, if respected, go a long way toward protecting sheriffs and deputies from legal liability, customer hostility, berating judges, indignant attorneys, public embarrassment, unnecessary confusion, and messy courtroom entanglements. Whether the sheriff’s office serves 1,000 or 500,000 civil papers each year, it is the mistakes that invariably draw the most attention and are longest remembered. The following list is surely not all encompassing but contains a number of suggestions for avoiding the aforementioned unpleasant sorts of attention.

Reference Number: CTAS-1301

Good faith efforts to ensure the integrity of the judicial process in matters not directly related to the sheriff’s duties can become a very slippery slope. The sheriff’s office may find itself dragged into a quagmire of confusion and controversy among the parties, the clerk’s office, or the attorneys. The good news is the sheriff is not responsible for guaranteeing that the system work as it should. Read the process and follow the order to the sheriff contained thereon unless the order is illegal, too ambiguous to understand, or obviously erroneous. In those cases, the attorneys or clerk can be asked for clarification or a corrected order.

The sheriff “must look alone to the mandate in his hands. If the judgment awarding such mandate is void, that is a matter to be taken advantage of by the defendant in the execution, and it is no part of the duty of the sheriff to protect [the plaintiff].” Perdue v. Dodd, et als., 69 Tenn. 710 (Tenn. 1878). See also McCoy v. Dail, 65 Tenn. 137 (Tenn. 1873); State, to Use of Josiah Grigsby v. Manly et al., 79 Tenn. 636 (Tenn. 1883); and Shaw v. Holmes, 51 Tenn. 692 (Tenn. 871). In other words, the sheriff has no dog in the judicial hunt, and “cannot know, nor is it his province to inquire, what arrangements have been made between the principal and his securities.”

Reference Number: CTAS-1302

There is an important exception to the statutory mandates that a sheriff obey the command of the process virtually without question. When executing a levy, no sheriff is required to seize any property the title of which is disputed, or to sell the same after levy, unless the plaintiff will first give an indemnity bond and security to the officer. The bond then protects the sheriff against all damages and costs in consequence of the levy or sale. T.C.A. § 26-3-104. Protection extends only to disputes based on the claim of a third party and does not include the defendant’s objections that the property is exempt from execution, the execution is void, and so forth. Baker v. Agey, 21 Tenn. 13 (1840); Hunter v. Agee, 24 Tenn. 57 (1844).

The most efficient way to address this issue is for the plaintiff’s attorney to sign the indemnity bond, which requires no fee, at the time the levy order is sought. The plaintiff cannot be required to give an indemnity bond in advance. However, if none is given and a dispute over ownership of the property arises when the deputy goes to execute the levy, the deputy should suspend further action until the bond is given.

In the meantime, the judgment debtor may use the delay to remove, transfer, or abscond with the property designated for levy. It is unlikely the sheriff can spare personnel to wait at the scene for a bond to be given that may never actually arrive. The simple form below, adopted from a form used in Chancery Court for Knox County, is found at 16 Tenn. Prac., Debtor-Creditor Law and Practice § 19.04 (2005). The sheriff can perhaps enlist cooperation from the clerk’s office to make it easily available to the plaintiff’s attorney at the location where the levy order is filed.

 

INDEMNITY BOND OF PLAINTIFF: T.C.A. § 26-3-104

We, the Attorney for the Judgment Creditor and Surety, indemnify the Sheriff of ________ County, Tennessee, and all the Sheriff's Deputies, and all and every person aiding the Sheriff in the premises, from harm, loss, damages, costs, suits, judgments and executions, that may at any time arise or be brought against the Sheriff or any of them for the levy or sale and that we shall pay any judgment that may be obtained against the Sheriff or any of them by virtue of the levy or sale.

_______________________

Surety

THIS DAY ________ OF ________, 20___.

 

Reference Number: CTAS-1303

“The service of civil process does not authorize a warrantless search of private property.” State of Tennessee v. Harris, 919 S.W.2d 619, 625 (1995). Failing to respect that legal fact invites disaster on two fronts.  First, suit may be filed in federal court alleging a violation of civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. There is no cap on damages in such actions, and attorneys’ fees are awarded to the prevailing plaintiff in addition to damages.  Second, evidence of criminal conduct discovered under such circumstances is inadmissible in court, allowing the offender to escape prosecution even for serious felony offenses. It is crucial to distinguish civil from criminal procedural rules here, and the ramifications for not doing so can be astonishingly harsh. For that reason, the limits on an officer’s authority to enter or remain on the property are examined more comprehensively below.

The parameters are inflexible; the rule of law is that an officer attempting to serve civil process is permitted to go anywhere on the premises a (well behaved) member of the general public might be expected to go and no further. State v. Marcus Ellis, No. 01C01-9001-CR 00021, slip op. at 4, 1990 WL 198876, (Tenn. Crim. App., Nashville, Dec. 12, 1990).

The obligation to serve process indisputably gives officers the right to approach a dwelling and knock on the door. After all, the sheriff is required to “go to the house or place of abode of every defendant against whom the sheriff has process, before returning on the same that the defendant is not to be found.” T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(8). An individual has no expectation of privacy in the area in front of his residence that leads from the street to the front door, and what an officer sees while standing on the sidewalk between the street and door is not protected. State v. Baker, 625 S.W.2d 724, 727 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1981).

However, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 7, of the Tennessee Constitution protect a citizen of this state from unreasonable searches and seizures of his dwelling and the curtilage that adjoins the dwelling. State v. Prier, 725 S.W.2d 667, 671 (Tenn. 1987); Welch v. State, 154 Tenn. 60, 289 S.W. 510 (1926).

Therefore, any significant departure from an area where the public is impliedly invited “exceed[s] the scope of the implied invitation and intrude[s] upon a constitutionally protected expectation of privacy.” Id. (quoting State v. Seagull, 95 Wash.2d 898, 632 P.2d 44, 47 (Wash.1981) (en banc)). And, while an officer attempting to serve process does have the right to go to the intended recipient’s home or “place of abode,” the officer may not enter the home itself without consent. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 01-148 (September 24, 2001).

If it is obvious that no one is home, the deputy is at liberty to await the arrival of the residents. The deputy is not authorized to peer in windows or prowl around private, occupied, or fenced property. In Harris, the court pointedly stated: “Moreover, nothing in the law justifies the sheriff's proceeding down the lane behind a residence for over a hundred yards to serve civil process even if the sheriff had believed that Harris was ‘hiding’ from service.” Harris, 919 S.W.2d at 623. “Consequently, the warrantless search of appellant's property and the resulting seizure of (over 100) marijuana plants was unconstitutional. Any statements made by appellants must likewise be suppressed.” Id. at 624-625.

Although it may represent the deputy’s diligence, or may simply be an innocent effort to determine whether the property is inhabited or abandoned, walking around the exterior of a dwelling or attempting to gaze inside a window constitutes a search, and, “‘[e]xcept in certain carefully defined classes of cases, a search of private property without proper consent is ‘unreasonable’ unless it has been authorized by a valid search warrant.'” State v. Lakin, 588 S.W.2d 544, 547 (Tenn. 1979) (quoting Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57, 44 S.Ct. 445, 68 L.Ed. 898 (1924)). Tennessee courts have consistently held that police entry upon private, occupied, fenced land without a warrant and absent exigent circumstances is unreasonable, and evidence obtained as a result of such a search must be suppressed. State v. Prier, 725 S.W.2d 667 (Tenn. 1987).

Reference Number: CTAS-1304

The general rule is that civil process shall not be executed on Sunday. The exception to the rule is where it appears the parties to be sued are leaving the county or state or are about to remove themselves or their property beyond the court’s jurisdiction. T.C.A. §§ 20-2-104, 105, and 106. Other exceptions are orders of protection, T.C.A. § 36-3-601 et seq., and a few other types of extraordinary process.

Reference Number: CTAS-1305

No sheriff or deputy may purchase, either directly or indirectly, any property for sale under process of law, i.e., from a sheriff’s sale. Any such purchase shall be absolutely void.  T.C.A. § 8-8-206. Interestingly enough, the prohibition applies to sheriffs but to no other law enforcement officers or agencies. Additionally, an officer cannot bid at his own execution sale even if the bid is placed purely for the benefit of a third party. Chambers v. State, 22 Tenn. 237 (1842).

Reference Number: CTAS-1306

In any civil action where an officer is a salaried or commissioned employee of a party to the suit and serves a summons, writ, process or other proceeding, said officer commits a Class C misdemeanor. T.C.A. § 8-8-216. Any process served in a civil action in violation of the statute is void. T.C.A. § 8-8-217.

Reference Number: CTAS-1307

Witnesses and parties to a suit cannot be served with any “writ, process, warrant, order, judgment, or decree in any civil cause” except as to a subpoena to testify as a witness while attending, going, or coming from the place of suit. T.C.A. § 24-2-105; Hinkle v. Cravens, 219 Tenn. 253 (1966). The privilege extends to corporate officers who come to testify as a witnesses, and they cannot be served with process in a suit against the corporation. Sewanee Coal, Coke & Land Co. v. W.W. Williams & Co, 120 Tenn. 339, 107 S.W.2d 968 (1907) (A resident of another state or county, who has in good faith come to testify as a witness, is exempt from service of process for the commencement of a civil action, either against him in his individual capacity or against a corporation of which he is an officer or agent.).

The travel exemption allows one day for every 30 miles of travel, which illustrates the fact that the privilege has been in effect since 1794. The privilege holds even where the individual has come from a foreign jurisdiction. Sofge v. Lowe, 131 Tenn. 626 (1915); Purnell v. Morton Live Stock Co., 156 Tenn. 383 (1928).

Reference Number: CTAS-1308

When serving a company by certified mail, the letter must be addressed to a specific corporate officer, a managing or general agent, or another agent authorized to receive service of process on the company’s behalf. Service cannot be accomplished by merely mailing a copy of the summons and complaint to the company to be received along with the general mail sorted by lower-level employees. Taylor v. Stanley Works, 2002 WL 32058966 (E.D. Tenn. 2002); Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(h)(1).

Reference Number: CTAS-1309

It is easy to be lulled into complacency when one spends months or years serving civil process without serious incident, so it is important to remember and honor the fact that several Tennessee sheriff’s deputies have lost their lives or been seriously injured fulfilling that duty. Civil actions are not necessarily conducive to civilized conduct on the part of those involved, and an officer cannot afford to maintain a casual attitude when there is no way to know what waits on the other side of a closed door.

Although service of any kind of process can lead to confrontation, some kinds of legal disputes engender such fierce emotion that they are more likely to instigate irrational or violent reactions, especially from the respondent and the respondent’s loved ones.

Reference Number: CTAS-1310

These orders are surely the most disturbing judicial orders deputies execute. They are often distressing for everyone present, including the officers charged with the duty to effect the transfer. Custody transfer orders require the sheriff to take physical custody of a child and place that child in the hands of the party directed by the court.

The transfer may be ordered pursuant to a judicial determination that the child has been abandoned or is subjected to or threatened with abuse. T.C.A. § 36-6-219(a). It may be initiated by an order for immediate physical custody, issued because the petitioner has properly registered a foreign decree, and the petition has been verified pursuant to T.C.A. §§ 36-6-229 through 234. Or, where a petition seeking enforcement of a custody determination is filed and the petitioner files a verified application, the court may issue a warrant for immediate physical custody if the child is in imminent danger of serious physical harm or is about to be removed from Tennessee. T.C.A. § 36-6-235(a).

A warrant to take physical custody of a child is enforceable throughout the state and may authorize officers to enter private property to take custody. If required by exigent circumstances, officers may make a forcible entry at any hour. T.C.A. § 36-6-235(e). The officer must serve the respondent with the petition, warrant, and order immediately after the child is taken into physical custody. T.C.A. § 36-6-235(d).

Below are a few guidelines for facilitating child custody transfers that may help protect the child’s physical and emotional safety while minimizing the problems likely to be encountered during the transfer process.

  1. Coordinate the transfer closely with the party taking physical custody in order to confirm the child’s identity and make the transfer as quickly as reasonably possible. The person taking custody should wait nearby but out of the respondent’s sight so as to avoid confrontation.
  2. Never send a lone officer to execute a warrant for physical custody.  Ideally, the transfer should be facilitated by a team of no fewer than three officers. It may take two or more to restrain the respondent and at least one more to transport the child to the petitioner.
  3. Act quickly and efficiently. Officers should not allow the respondent to engage them in discussion or argument. While the respondent may consent to a peaceful surrender for the sake of the child, and negotiations to that end are desirable, they should be not be prolonged.
  4. If the child is to be transported in a sheriff’s vehicle, he or she must be properly restrained by a seatbelt or in an age and size appropriate child safety seat.
  5. Young children may be consoled by a small stuffed animal, doll, or book.  Officers should calmly reassure and comfort the child, who may appear calm while suffering severe emotional shock. Some agencies have found it helpful to use at least one female officer where available, as many children feel less threatened if there is a female presence.
Reference Number: CTAS-1311

Writs of restitution are commonly known as evictions; they are another kind of process that brings with it significant and inherent risks to officer and public safety during execution.  They are also among the very few civil orders that mandate use of force, where necessary, to achieve service. T.C.A. § 29-18-127.

The sheriff has not obeyed or executed a writ of restitution until he or she delivers actual possession of the premises to the plaintiff and leaves the plaintiff in quiet possession. If the tenant does not yield possession peacefully, it is the officer’s duty to remove him from the premises, and the writ is not executed until he does so. Farnsworth v. Fowler, 31 Tenn. 1, 55 Am. Dec. 718 (1851).

The officer executing the writ is responsible only for overseeing the procedure and keeping the peace until it is finished and the plaintiff is restored to peaceful possession. Officers should not act as the plaintiff’s movers. Plaintiffs are responsible for the removal and storage of the tenant’s belongings.

However, it is not uncommon for a plaintiff to direct that movers simply take the tenant’s property to the edge of the roadway. In either case, there may be items removed from the premises that pose a hazard to public safety, e.g., weapons, incendiary devices, firearms, prescription medications or toxic chemicals. Such items should be inventoried, secured, and held for further disposition in accordance with law. Some items of obvious value, such as cash, should also be inventoried and secured.

Some articles or substances discovered during removal of the tenant’s belongings, such as child pornography or controlled substances, may have criminal implications and must be dealt with accordingly.

The proliferation of methamphetamine labs is a relatively new danger confronted by those whose duty it is to oversee or carry out evictions. Officers should be acquainted with signs that such a lab is present so the appropriate authorities can be summoned to perform decontamination procedures.

Tenants faced with the execution of a writ of restitution sometimes become agitated, hostile or belligerent, and may call for reinforcements amongst their relatives and friends, whereupon the situation usually deteriorates rapidly. In such cases, it may be prudent for officers to withdraw to a safe distance until their own reinforcements arrive. Often the mere show of force effectively deters further disruption.

If tenants or other persons on the scene become threatening, assaultive, or otherwise engage in violent conduct, and efforts to encourage reasonableness are unsuccessful or clearly futile, the officer should not hesitate to use restraints or other force as required to stabilize the situation and restore safety and order.

Occasionally an officer arriving to execute a writ of restitution discovers an unattended child or adult occupants who are intoxicated, disabled, infirm, or mentally ill. A person who cannot leave the premises safely, attend to his or her own needs, or avoid risk of serious harm if left unattended should never be abandoned. If no responsible person is available to take charge of such an individual, the appropriate social services or other agency must be contacted for assistance. An officer who abandons an obviously incompetent individual who subsequently comes to serious harm may be found culpable for negligence.

While unrelated to public or officer safety, it is worth mention that a surprising number of actions filed related to writs of restitution arise because the deputies and plaintiff’s movers enter the wrong residence and remove the property while the owner or occupant is away.  Even if the property is put back in place undamaged and no locks, doors, or fixtures are broken in the process, this is an error with considerable tort liability and constitutional implications. A claim for damages by the indignant, embarrassed owner, whose constitutional rights to privacy and due process have been violated, is almost certain to follow.

Reference Number: CTAS-1312

“In America, early settlers held European attitudes towards women. Our law, based upon the old English common-law doctrines, explicitly permitted wife-beating for correctional purposes. However, certain restrictions did exist and the general trend in the young states was toward declaring wife-beating illegal. For instance, the common-law doctrine had been modified to allow the husband 'the right to whip his wife provided that he used a switch no bigger than his thumb' -- a rule of thumb, so to speak." Del Martin, Battered Wives Volcano Press, 1976, page 31.

Societal attitudes toward domestic violence have changed dramatically, and Tennessee laws related to it are modified almost yearly. Each revision has placed a greater burden on the law enforcement community to protect alleged victims, and the liability for failure to do so can be tremendous where an order of protection has been issued by the courts and served by the sheriff.

For law enforcement officers, domestic disputes and domestic violence are among the most difficult and dangerous situations to address. Some individuals seem to repeatedly manipulate the justice system for their own vindictive purposes, wasting valuable resources. Others petition the courts for protective orders, then fail to appear and testify, having returned to the alleged abuser. Officials may therefore become cynical and reluctant to take action.

However, in 2002, 3.1 percent of all male homicide victims and almost one-third of all female homicide victims in the United States were killed by a former or current “intimate partner.” U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Homicide Trends in the U.S.”  Domestic violence results in nearly 2 million injuries and 1,300 deaths nationwide each year. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; 2003. Additionally, there have been a number of cases, in Tennessee and other jurisdictions, in which domestic conflict culminated in the murder of the perpetrator’s own or estranged partner’s children.

Reference Number: CTAS-1313

For Orders of Protection, the following definitions will apply:

Petitioner — The victim; the plaintiff; “the person alleging domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking in a petition for an order for protection.” T.C.A. § 36-3-601(6).

Respondent — The defendant; the perpetrator; “the person alleged to have abused, stalked or sexually assaulted another in a petition for an order for protection.” T.C.A. § 36-3-601(9).

Petition for Order of Protection — A standardized form filed with the court that provides relevant information about the petitioner, the respondent, their children, the domestic situation, and what events took place that led to the request for an order of protection. The petition asks that the court direct Respondent not to threaten, assault, contact, or stalk Petitioner.

Ex Parte Order of Protection — A temporary, emergency order issued when the court finds there is good cause to believe there is an immediate and present danger Petitioner will be victimized by Respondent. An ex parte order is issued immediately, without giving Respondent notice or an opportunity to be heard. 

Order of Protection — An order issued after a hearing in which the court finds there is sufficient proof that Petitioner’s allegations of domestic abuse, stalking or sexual assault are true, and that Petitioner needs to be shielded by the law from the Respondent. The order is valid for a defined period, not to exceed one year. For purposes of this chapter, such orders will be called “standard orders of protection” or “standard protective orders.”

Sexual Assault Victim — Any person, regardless of the relationship with the perpetrator, who has been subjected to, threatened with, or placed in fear of any form of rape, including aggravated rape (T.C.A. § 39-13-502), rape (T.C.A. § 39-13-503), aggravated sexual battery (T.C.A. § 39-13-504), sexual battery (T.C.A. § 39-13-505), sexual battery by an authority figure (T.C.A. § 39-13-527), statutory rape (T.C.A. § 39-13-506), or rape of a child (T.C.A. §§ 39-13-522, 33-3-601(9)).

Stalking Victim — Any person, regardless of the relationship with the perpetrator, who has been subjected to, threatened with, or placed in fear of the offense of stalking. T.C.A. §§ 36-3-601(11), 39-17-315.

Reference Number: CTAS-1314

In 1995, our legislature took the somewhat unusual step of codifying (enacting as part of the Tennessee Code) its intent regarding application of state statutes related to domestic abuse:

The purpose of this part is to recognize the seriousness of domestic abuse as a crime and to assure that the law provides a victim of domestic abuse with enhanced protection from domestic abuse. A further purpose of this chapter is to recognize that in the past law enforcement agencies have treated domestic abuse crimes differently than crimes resulting in the same harm but occurring between strangers. Thus, the general assembly intends that the official response to domestic abuse shall stress enforcing the laws to protect the victim and prevent further harm to the victim, and the official response shall communicate the attitude that violent behavior is not excused or tolerated.

T.C.A. § 36-3-618.

Reference Number: CTAS-1315

With the exceptions added in 2005 to include sexual assault and stalking victims, state law requires that the petitioner have some past or present link of a domestic or familial nature with the respondent, though it may be indirect. The statute does not include acquaintances, neighbors, business associates and others who do not fall into the specified categories, which include:

  1. Adults or minors who are current or former spouses;
  2. Adults or minors who live together or who have lived together;
  3. Adults or minors who are dating or who have dated or who have or had a sexual relationship; as used herein “dating” and “dated” do not include fraternization between two individuals in a business or social context;
  4. Adults or minors related by blood or adoption;
  5. Adults or minors who are related or were formerly related by marriage; or
  6. Adult or minor children of a person in a relationship described above.

T.C.A. § 36-3-601(5)(A - F).

Reference Number: CTAS-1316

The petition may be filed in the county where the Respondent lives; or, in which the domestic abuse, stalking, or sexual assault happened; or, if the Respondent is not a Tennessee resident, in the county where the victim lives. T.C.A. § 36-3-602(d).

Reference Number: CTAS-1317

An ex parte order is issued by the court without giving Respondent notice or an opportunity to tell his or her side of the story. It is a temporary order. There must be a hearing within 15 days after Respondent is served with the ex parte order. Respondent must be given at least five days notice of the hearing date. T.C.A. § 36-3-605.

If, at the hearing, the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the victim’s allegations are true, the court can extend the order for up to one year. The victim can return each year to ask that the order be extended for another year. A new hearing is required for each extension. T.C.A. §§ 36-3-605 and 36-3-608.

Reference Number: CTAS-1318

Rules for serving ex parte and standard protective orders are identical, with one exception: To effect proper service, the deputy must:

  1. Personally read the order to Respondent and leave a copy with him or her, or
  2. If Respondent is not a Tennessee resident, the order can be served by mail on the appropriate secretary of state, who must then promptly send a certified copy to Respondent by registered or certified return receipt mail, along with written notice that service was so made.  If Respondent refuses to accept delivery of the registered or certified mail, his or her refusal is the same as delivery and constitutes service.

T.C.A. § 20-2-215.

However, if Respondent was served with a copy of the petition, notice of hearing, and any ex parte order issued, and the court rules that the ex parte order be extended to a standard order of protection, that order shall be served by:

  1. Delivering a copy of the order of protection to Respondent or Respondent’s lawyer, or
  2. By the clerk mailing it to Respondent’s last known address. If the address “cannot be ascertained upon diligent inquiry,” the certificate of service shall so state. Service by mail is complete upon mailing.

T.C.A. § 36-3-609(d); §§ 20-2-215, 216.

Because violating a protective order is now a crime rather than merely civil contempt, it is absolutely essential that the deputy serving the order comply with every detail of the rules of service. It is never acceptable to leave the order with a third party who promises to give it to the Respondent.

Reference Number: CTAS-1319

Entry into the Tennessee Crime Information System (TCIC) and Transmission of Information to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).

Each time a court issues, modifies, or dismisses a protective order, the local law enforcement agency is to immediately enter the order, modification, or dismissal in the Tennessee Crime Information System “and take any necessary action to immediately transmit it to the National Crime Information Center.” T.C.A. § 36-3-609(e).

When an order is served, the entry is updated to include the court appearance date. If, at the time of the hearing, an ex parte order is extended into a standard protective order, the updated entry will include the order’s expiration date (usually one year from the date of the order), the judge’s name, and any additional relevant information, such as whether the order allows “social contact.”

“Social contact” is sometimes specified in the order, usually to allow Respondent to interact with Petitioner for the purpose of arranging visitation with minor children or other communication related to the welfare of the couple’s children. Orders that permit “social contact” are often later modified to prohibit all contact if the court finds Respondent is using that proviso as an excuse to further harass Petitioner.

Reference Number: CTAS-1320

The order is valid and enforceable in any county in Tennessee. T.C.A. § 36-3-606(e).  It may:

  1. Direct Respondent not to commit domestic abuse, stalk or sexually assault Petitioner or petitioner’s minor children;
  2. Prohibit Respondent from calling, e-mailing, writing, or communicating with Petitioner, directly or indirectly;
  3. Prohibit the Respondent from stalking the Petitioner, as defined in § 39-17-315;
  4. Give Petitioner possession of the residence and evict the Respondent;
  5. Require Respondent to provide suitable housing for Petitioner if respondent is the sole owner or lessee of the residence;
  6. Award temporary custody of or establish temporary visitation rights with their minor children;
  7. Award support to Petitioner if the parties are legally married and award child support for Respondent’s children;
  8. Require Respondent to get treatment or counseling for anger management or substance abuse;
  9. Place the care, custody, or control of any animal residing in the household in the care, custody or control of the Petitioner or in an appropriate animal foster situation;
  10. Direct the Respondent to immediately and temporarily vacate a residence shared with the petitioner, pending a hearing on the matter; or
  11. Direct the Respondent to pay the Petitioner all costs, expenses and fees pertaining to the Petitioner's breach of a lease or rental agreement for residential property if the Petitioner is a party to the lease or rental agreement and if the court finds that continuing to reside in the rented or leased premises may jeopardize the life, health and safety of the Petitioner or the Petitioner's children.

T.C.A. § 36-3-606(a).

Reference Number: CTAS-1321

Law enforcement officers generally have considerable discretion about whether to make an arrest in a given situation and are usually protected from liability if the decision not to arrest results in harm to a member of the general public. However, Tennessee does not allow officer discretion when it comes to arresting individuals who violate protective orders. Arrest is mandatory.

Illustrating how inflexible state law is on the matter, the attorney general’s office issued an opinion that “a law enforcement officer, having observed the commission of a felony, may choose not to arrest or charge the offending party, except when the officer has probable cause to believe that a suspect has violated an order of protection.” Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 01-119 (July 27, 2001).

In other words, while an officer has discretion to ignore a felony committed right before his or her eyes, that option does not exist if the misconduct violates a valid order of protection, regardless of whether it would otherwise constitute a misdemeanor, or no criminal offense at all. If Petitioner or Petitioner’s property come to harm after an officer fails to arrest the violator, the county is subject to liability for damages. Matthews v. Pickett County, 996 S.W.2d 162 (Tenn. 1999); Hudson v. Hudson, 2005 WL 2253612 (W.D. Tenn. 2005).

On the other hand, if the law enforcement agency fails to notify TCIC and NCIC that an order has been dismissed or of its expiration date, and the former Respondent is wrongfully arrested, the prospect of legal liability again rears its ugly head. That is one of many reasons it is so important that such orders be correctly served and that modifications and other required information be correctly entered in the Tennessee and National Crime Information Systems.

An arrest for violating a protective order may be made with or without a warrant.  A law enforcement officer shall arrest Respondent without a warrant if:

  1. The violation took place in the officer’s jurisdiction;
  2. The officer reasonably believes Respondent has violated or is violating the order; and
  3. The officer verifies that an order of protection is in effect, which can be through telephone/radio communication with the appropriate law enforcement department.

T.C.A. § 36-3-611(a)(1-3).

Even if Respondent is violating an ex parte order and not a standard order of protection, the officer is required to make an arrest, but only if Respondent “has been served with the ex parte order or otherwise has acquired actual knowledge of the order.” T.C.A. § 36-3-611(b). The term “actual knowledge” means Respondent has direct, clear knowledge of information that would lead a reasonable person to inquire further. Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th Edition. Otherwise, an ex parte order cannot be enforced by arrest.

Reference Number: CTAS-1322

Although an ex parte order is effective for only a matter of days, this is often the time during which emotions run high and violence or increased harassment are most likely to erupt. At what point is Respondent deemed to have actual knowledge? If the deputy reads the order to Respondent over the phone, is it in effect? What if the deputy gives oral notice of the order’s existence and requirements, but does not have a copy to give Respondent at that time? What is the deputy’s duty if, when serving an ex parte order, Petitioner is on the premises, and Respondent refuses to leave?

First, let us look at the issue of “actual knowledge.” If the ex parte order has been personally served, Respondent, of course, has actual knowledge. If it has not, Respondent may be deemed to have actual knowledge when he is put on notice of its existence and general requirements by a law enforcement officer.

EXAMPLE: Officer Bob responds to a call and arrives at the scene to find Respondent Bubba duct-taping love notes all over Petitioner Patty’s front door. Patty advises Officer Bob she was granted an ex parte order of protection against Bubba, her former boyfriend, two hours earlier. Officer Bob calls his dispatcher and verifies that the judge did indeed issue an ex parte order, which has not yet been served. Officer Bob informs Bubba that the order has been issued and Bubba is to stay away from Patty until the hearing; and directs Bubba to leave the premises. Brimming with actual knowledge, Bubba stumbles off into the night to seek solace at his favorite bar.

Two hours later, Officer Bob is again called to Patty’s house, and there’s Bubba, drawing big red hearts on the vinyl siding. It is his house, and he insists on his right to decorate it. Anyway, no one has given him any piece of paper that says he can’t be in his own blankety-blank yard. At this point, Officer Bob arrests Bubba and hauls him away to jail. Of course, Officer Bob could and should have arrested Bubba on the first call if he had been able to verify the protective order was personally served on Bubba earlier that day.

Some officers are concerned when they serve an ex parte order of protection and realize Petitioner is on the premises. If Respondent has previously assaulted Petitioner, vandalized Petitioner’s property, or otherwise threatened or harmed Petitioner, it is foreseeable that Respondent may be at it again by the time the deputy reaches the end of the driveway. The best practice is for the deputy to ensure Respondent is away from the premises before the deputy departs the scene. If, after the order is served, Respondent becomes belligerent or threatening, or refuses to leave, the order is being violated and the duty to arrest arises.

It is a crime and contempt of court to violate an order of protection and Respondent may be found guilty of both. T.C.A. § 36-3-610. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 05-183 (December 22, 2005).

A critical change in Tennessee law took effect July 1, 2005. Under the old law, a Respondent arrested for violating the protective order was charged with contempt, a civil offense that carries a penalty of only 10 days in jail and a $50 fine. At the time of arrest, the magistrate set bond pending the hearing, which was to be conducted within 10 days, and Petitioner was required to appear and show cause why the contempt order should be issued. Of course, if Respondent committed a crime in the process of violating the protective order, e.g., burglary, vandalism, assault, he or she could be prosecuted for that criminal act.

As of July 1, 2005, a knowing violation of a protective order became a crime in and of itself, a Class A misdemeanor carrying a sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days in jail. Furthermore, the new law directs that such a sentence is to be consecutive to any other sentences resulting from the same factual allegations, unless the judge specifically directs otherwise. T.C.A. § 36-3-612(g).

It is important to reiterate that the new criminal penalty applies only to orders of protection issued after a hearing, not to ex parte orders. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 05-183 (December 22, 2005).

Once Respondent is arrested, the magistrate must consider certain factors and set conditions of release. Upon release, Respondent is given written notice of the conditions, which may include orders to stay away from Petitioner, not to possess or use alcohol, not to possess a firearm or other weapon, or other directives. T.C.A. §40-11-150(a-b). If a law enforcement officer later has probable cause to believe Respondent has violated any condition of release, the officer shall arrest Respondent, without a warrant, regardless of whether the officer actually witnessed Respondent committing the violation. T.C.A. §40-7-103(b).

Reference Number: CTAS-1323

An order of protection is a form of civil process. Violating the order can be a civil offense, a criminal offense, or both. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 05-183 (December 22, 2005). When releasing a defendant charged with domestic violence related offenses, including stalking, violating an order of protection, or any assaultive offense, the jailer is required to provide the victim with notice. The table below details the statutory requirements. T.C.A. § 40-11-150(f-h).

Protected Victim

Family or Household Member (Includes current or ex-spouse; adult or minor who lives or has lived with defendant; adult or minor related/formerly related by blood/marriage; adult/minor dating/dated in past or having/had a sexual relationship; adult/minor child of anyone described above).

Who Notifies Victim of Release

Law enforcement agency with custody of Defendant shall initiate notification whether or not victim requests it.

Time Frame for Notification

Notification is to be made at the time of Defendant’s release.

Measures Required to Contact Victim

“Use all reasonable means to immediately notify the victim.”

Information to be Given to Victim

Notice that Defendant is being/has been released; address and phone # of nearest shelter and counseling center.

Delay Release Until Victim Notified?

Statute prohibits delay.

Other Duties

Send/give victim copy of conditions of release. Must also provide copy of the conditions to Defendant.

Hold Required Before Bail/Release

Twelve hours from time of arrest.  Judge may order release in less time if he or she determines that sufficient time has, or will have, elapsed for the victim to be protected.

 

Reference Number: CTAS-1324

Mary Matthews v. Pickett County

Mary Matthews v. Pickett County, 996 S.W.2d 162 (Tenn. 1999), is the most cited Tennessee case regarding liability for failure to arrest a Respondent who violates an order of protection.

The court held that an order of protection creates a special duty to protect the victim named on the order and that special duty includes protection of the victim's property. The complainant can win personal injury and property damages if the Petitioner shows that the deputies breached their duty to arrest the Respondent when the Respondent violated an order of protection, and that the Petitioner was harmed as a result.

The public duty doctrine gives officers immunity for injuries caused by breach of a duty owed to the general public.

EXAMPLE: Officer Bob pulls over drunk driver and recognizes Buddy, who is only a few blocks from home. Officer Bob lets Buddy go on his promise to go straight home, but Buddy heads for another bar, running over Valerie Victim on the way. Officer Bob clearly breached his duty to protect the public at large, but Valerie Victim will not win her lawsuit against Officer Bob or the county because she was not a forseeable victim. When Officer Bob breached his duty to protect the public by failing to arrest Buddy, he did not know this particular Victim was a block away and could be harmed by his failure to act.

The public duty doctrine did not protect the officers in Matthews because the order was not issued to protect the public at large but solely to protect Mary Matthews, whose calls for help indicate she relied on the court's order to keep her safe from Winningham. Her reliance created a special duty exception to the public duty doctrine, an exception that applies when a public official undertakes to protect an individual, and that person relies on the official to do so. 

The special duty exception creates a special relationship between the parties, in this case the government and Ms. Matthews. The officers had a duty protect her by arresting Winningham if there was reason to believe he had violated a valid order of protection. The court held that if the breach of that duty allowed Winningham freedom to burn down Ms. Matthews' house, the deputies and the county are liable for her harm.

The Tennessee Supreme Court makes it clear by this ruling that, if the government violates its special duty to safeguard a party named by an order of protection, and the individual is harmed as a result, compensation can be awarded for personal injury and property damage.

Reference Number: CTAS-1326

The sheriff is entitled to collect fees for performing  various duties related to serving civil process, and they are specified in T.C.A. § 8-21-901(a)(1). Fees differ depending on factors such as the specific type of process and whether service was completed or merely attempted. It should be noted that the $2 data processing services fee the sheriff is to collect must be “allocated by the sheriff’s county for computerization, information systems and electronic records management costs of the sheriff’s office.” The funds are to be earmarked within the general fund and reserved for those purposes. T.C.A. § 8-21-901(a)(5)(B).

As of January 1, 2006, Tennessee’s court clerks are permitted in many instances to collect costs in the form of a flat fee at the time services are requested. TCA § 8-21-401(a).  Unfortunately, the legislature made no similar provisions for county sheriffs, who are not permitted to demand fees in advance, TCA § 8-21-102; § 8-21-901(a), and who, in some instances, are entitled to a fee for each attempt at services, as in the case of collecting money to satisfy a judgment under T.C.A. § 8-21-901(a)(2)(B)(i). Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 02-113 (October 10, 2002). A rare exception to the rule is where the process to be served is coming from another county. T.C.A. § 8-8-202.

Since clerks are charged with collecting and distributing fees, and sheriff’s fees cannot be calculated or collected in advance, procedures under the new law may not be as streamlined for the clerks as anticipated.

Clerks maintain records of all sums of money they receive and disburse. TCA § 18-2-101(a). In all cases, the clerk prepares the bill of fees and costs. TCA §§ 8-21-104; 18-1-105(a)(4). Costs are part of the final judgment in a case. TCA § 20-12-101; Tenn. R. Civ. Pro. 69; Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. Nos. 99-003 (January 19, 1999) and 02-072 (June 3, 2002).

Among other responsibilities, the clerk of a trial court is required to collect all costs incident to litigation, including sheriff’s fees. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 02-072 (June 3, 2002).

Additionally, when selling real or personal property, the clerk must “collect the sheriff’s fee, plus the sheriff’s fee for each additional defendant in proceedings to sell real estate.” TCA § 8-21-401(i)(7). For receiving and paying over all taxes, fines, forfeitures, fees and penalties, the clerk is entitled to commissions that vary between 5 percent and 10 percent. TCA § 8-21-401(h).

The court decides whether to award costs and against whom. However, if costs are awarded and any money is received, the sheriff’s fee ranks very high on the priority list.  In cases where the amount collected is not enough even to pay the whole litigation tax and costs, the state tax should be paid before payment to officers and witnesses. Op. Tenn.  Atty. Gen. No 92-10 (February 19, 1992), citing State v. Stanley, 71 Tenn. 524, 526 (1879).  And in turn, payments of costs to officers of the court take priority over witness fees and other costs. Id., citing Locke v. McFalls, 35 Tenn. 674 (1856); Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 80-286 (June 9, 1980).

Sheriffs may rightfully be concerned that since clerks can now collect their fees “up front” in many cases, there will be little incentive to pursue collection of sheriff’s fees beyond one billing. However, motivation may be found in a state law captioned “Liability for Failure to Collect or Account,” which holds that court clerks, county trustees, sheriffs and other officers who fail to collect “every fee” that “the county may be entitled to, and which, by the exercise of reasonable diligence could have been collected” is “individually liable to the county for the amount that should have been collected . . .” TCA § 8-22-105.

See Service of Process under Specific Fees Authorized for additional information.

Reference Number: CTAS-1325

Laws regarding service of process are found among several volumes of the Code, and this is by no means an exhaustive list. However, it may be useful as a starting point for further research.

T.C.A. § 8-8-201  Duties of the Sheriff
T.C.A. § 8-8-202 Advance Fees for Service of Out of County Process
T.C.A. § 8-8-207 Disobedience of Process
T.C.A. § 8-8-216 Service of Process by Employee Prohibited
T.C.A. § 8-21-901 Sheriff’s Fees
T.C.A. § 8-22-105 Liability for Failure to Collect or Account
T.C.A. § 25-3-105 Penalties for Failure to Return Process
T.C.A. § 26-1-402 Duties of Executing Officer to Make Sufficient Return
T.C.A. § 26-3-104 Indemnity Bond of Plaintiff Where Title of Levied Property Is in Dispute
T.C.A. § 26-3-101 et seq. Levy of Execution
T.C.A. § 26-3-117 Costs to Be Paid by Plaintiff for Transport/Storage of Levied Property
T.C.A. § 26-5-101 et seq. Sale on Execution (Sheriff’s Sale)
T.C.A. § 26-6-101 et seq.   Foreign Judgments and Their Authentication
T.C.A. § 29-15-114      Writ of Possession for Land in Ejectment Action
T.C.A. § 29-18-101 et seq. Forcible Entry and Detainer (Evictions)
T.C.A. § 29-30-101 et seq.   Recovery of Personal Property
T.C.A. § 36-6-219  Child Custody - Temporary Emergency Jurisdiction and Order Enforcement
T.C.A. § 36-6-227 Child Custody - Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Decrees

 

Reference Number: CTAS-1327

Sheriffs receive fees from the public for services they perform. However, pursuant to T.C.A. § 8-24-103(a)(2), the sheriff must pay over to the trustee, on a monthly basis, all of the fees, commissions, and charges collected by the sheriff’s office during the month. Because the sheriff is no longer on the “fee system,” it is the duty of the county legislative body to make the necessary appropriation and pay to the sheriff the authorized expenses fixed by law for the operation of the sheriff's office, direct from the county trustee in 12 equal monthly installments, irrespective of the fees earned by the sheriff. T.C.A. § 8-24-103(a)(1).

Reference Number: CTAS-1328

Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the sheriff is entitled to demand and receive the respective fees for the following services where services are actually rendered:

Service of Process

  1. For serving any process except as otherwise provided in T.C.A. § 8-21-901 or other applicable law, whether issued by a clerk for a general sessions, criminal, circuit, chancery or any other court, the sheriff is entitled to the following fees, based on the manner in which process is served, for each item of process that must be served separately per person served:
         a. For service in person: $40;
         b. For service by mail: $10;
         c. For service by acceptance or consent or any other authorized method: $10.
  2. For summoning jurors in any proceeding: $5.
  3. For serving or delivering any other process or notice not related to a judicial proceeding and issued by an entity other than a court: $10.
  4. For returning any service of process where the sheriff attempts service but is unsuccessful, the sheriff shall be entitled to the same fees specified in number 1 above; provided, that service is attempted in accordance with the laws of the state.

T.C.A. § 8-21-901(a)(1).

See Sheriff's Fees for Service of Process for additional information.

Original Process in Delinquent Tax Collection Proceedings

The sheriff receives $7.50 for serving all original processes in delinquent tax suits as costs to be taxed against each delinquent tax payer and the statutory fees for all other services performed by the sheriff. T.C.A. § 67-5-2410(c)(1).

Collection of Money ; Returning, Transporting, Storing or Establishing Possession of Property

  1. For a levy of an execution on property or levy of an attachment or other process to seize property for the purpose of securing satisfaction of a judgment yet to be rendered or for executing a writ of replevin or writ of possession: $40.
  2. For collecting money to satisfy a judgment, whether by execution, fieri facias, garnishment or other process, in civil cases each time collection is attempted: $20.
    For purposes of the payment of fees for garnishments as provided above, all garnishments are deemed to be original garnishments and the sheriff or other person authorized by law to serve garnishments is entitled to the fee provided above for each such garnishment served.
  3. Whenever the sheriff provides for the storage or maintenance of property including, but not limited to, vehicles, livestock and farm and construction equipment that has been levied on by execution, attachment or other process, the sheriff is entitled to demand and receive a reasonable per day fee for such services. The sheriff is also entitled to demand and receive reimbursement for costs of transportation of such personal property to a suitable location for storage and maintenance when such action is necessary to secure such property. Any such fees for transportation, maintenance and storage shall be approved by the court issuing the execution, attachment or other process.

T.C.A. § 8-21-901(a)(2).

Security Services

  1. For attending the grand jury or waiting in court: $75 per day.
  2. For waiting with a sequestered jury: $100 per day.

T.C.A. § 8-21-901(a)(4).

Data Processing Services

  1. For data processing services: $2.

The revenue from the two dollar data processing fee must be allocated by the sheriff's county for computerization, information systems and electronic records management costs of the sheriff's office. The funds must remain earmarked within the general fund and must be reserved for the purposes authorized by law at the end of each fiscal year. T.C.A. § 8-21-901(a)(5)(A) and (B).

Fees Limited

Notwithstanding other provisions of this section to the contrary, any fee or mileage allowance permitted under this section, which is assessed against the state or which otherwise represents a cost to the state, shall be limited in amount to the fees allowable immediately prior to May 28, 1977. T.C.A. § 8-21-901(b).

Reference Number: CTAS-1329

Sheriffs and other collecting officers of this state are allowed the same fees for collecting and paying over costs as they are allowed by law for collecting other moneys. However, they are not allowed to charge or receive commissions on costs in their favor. T.C.A. § 8-21-902.

Reference Number: CTAS-1330

The plaintiff in all judgments is liable to any sheriff for the commission on the amount so received if the plaintiff or the plaintiff 's agent or attorney receives any or all of the judgment after an execution has been issued on the judgment and given into the officer's hands for collection. T.C.A. § 8-21-903.

Reference Number: CTAS-1331

Handgun Carry Permit Application Fingerprint Fee

As part of the process of applying for a handgun carry permit, an applicant is required to provide two full sets of classifiable fingerprints at the time the application is filed with the Department of Safety. The applicant may have his or her fingerprints taken by the department at the time the application is submitted, or the applicant may have his/her fingerprints taken at any sheriff's office and submit the fingerprints to the department along with the application and other supporting documents. The sheriff may charge a fee not to exceed five dollars for taking the applicant's fingerprints. At the time an applicant's fingerprints are taken either by the department or a sheriff's office, the applicant is required to present a photo identification. If the person requesting fingerprinting is not the same person as the person whose picture appears on the photo identification, the department or sheriff must refuse to take the applicant’s fingerprints. T.C.A. § 39-17-1351(d)(1).

Range Fee

Sheriffs are authorized by statute to open their shooting ranges for public use when the range is not being used by the sheriff’s personnel. The sheriff may charge a reasonable fee for persons or organizations using the range and may require users to make improvements to the range. T.C.A. § 38-8-116.

Sexual Offender and Violent Sexual Offender Administrative Fee

Each year during the month of March, violent sexual offenders are required to pay an administrative fee, not to exceed $150. Sexual offenders pay the administrative fee during their annual reporting period. One hundred ($100.00) is This fee is retained by the sheriff to be used to purchase equipment, to defray personnel and maintenance costs, or any other expenses incurred as a result of the implementation of the "Tennessee Sexual Offender and Violent Sexual Offender Registration, Verification, and Tracking Act of 2004." The remaining fifty dollars ($50.00) shall be submitted to the TBI for maintenance, upkeep and employment costs, as well as any other expenses. Violent sexual offenders and sexual offenders who reside in nursing homes and assisted living facilities and offenders committed to mental health institutions or continuously confined to home or health care facilities due to mental or physical disabilities are exempt from the in-person reporting and administrative fee  requirement. T.C.A. § 40-39-204(b) and (c).

Reference Number: CTAS-1332

Misdemeanant Prisoners

The county legislative body of each county has the authority to pass a resolution fixing the amount of jailers' fees that may be applied to misdemeanant prisoners.  The rate fixed shall apply to such prisoners confined in the county jail or county workhouse or workhouses but not meeting the conditions required for a state subsidy under Title 41, Chapter 8. T.C.A. § 8-26-105(a). See Sample Resolution to Fix Jailer's Fee.

Sheriffs and jailers must make written statements of account, properly proven and sworn to, for the keeping of prisoners, specifying distinctly each item and the amount due for each item. T.C.A. § 41-4-129.

Jailer’s fees are taxed separately from the general bills of costs of criminal cases.  All state costs must be properly proved and sworn to before the clerk of the criminal or circuit court of the county and certified by the clerk for payment. T.C.A. § 41-4-131.

Jailer's fees for county prisoners shall be referred monthly to the county mayor for inspection, who shall audit the fees and cause the clerk to issue a warrant for the amount allowed. T.C.A. § 41-4-136.

Federal Prisoners

The jailer is liable for failing to receive and safely keep all persons delivered under the authority of the United States, to the like pains and penalties as for similar failures in the case of persons committed under authority of the state. However, the marshal or person delivering such prisoner under authority of the United States is liable to the jailer for fees and the subsistence of the prisoner while so confined, which shall be the same as provided by law for prisoners committed under authority of the state. The jailer will also collect from the marshal 50 cents a month for each prisoner, under the resolution of the first Congress, and pay the same to the county trustee forthwith, to be accounted for by the trustee as other county funds. T.C.A. § 41-4-105.

Inmate Copay

Any county may, by resolution adopted by a two-thirds vote of the county legislative body, establish and implement a plan authorizing the county jail administrator to charge an inmate in the county jail a copay amount for any medical care, treatment, pharmacy services or substance abuse treatment by a licensed provider provided to the inmate by the countyA county adopting a copay plan must establish the amount the inmate is required to pay for each service provided. However, an inmate who cannot pay the copay amount established by the plan cannot be denied medical care, treatment, pharmacy services or substance abuse treatment by a licensed provider. T.C.A. § 41-4-115(d).

If an inmate cannot pay the copay amount established by a plan adopted pursuant to T.C.A. § 41-4-115(d), the plan may authorize the jail administrator to deduct the copay amount from the inmate's commissary account or any other account or fund established by or for the benefit of the inmate while incarcerated. T.C.A. § 41-4-115(e).

Fees for Issued Items

Any county may, by a resolution adopted by a two-thirds vote of the county legislative body, establish and implement a plan authorizing the jail administrator to charge an inmate committed to the county jail a fee, not to exceed the actual cost, for items issued to the inmate upon each new admission to the county jail. T.C.A. § 41-4-142(a).

Additionally, any county may, by a resolution adopted by a two-thirds vote of its county legislative body, establish and implement a plan authorizing the jail administrator to charge an inmate committed to the jail a nominal fee set by the county legislative body at the time of adoption for the following special services, when provided at the inmate's request:

  1. Participation in GED or other scholastic testing for which the administering agency charges a fee for each test administered;
  2. Escort by correctional officers to a hospital or other healthcare facility for the purpose of visiting an immediate family member who is a patient at such facility; or
  3. Escort by correctional officers for the purpose of visiting a funeral home or church upon the death of an immediate family member.

T.C.A. § 41-4-142(b).

A plan adopted pursuant to T.C.A. § 41-4-142(a) or (b) may authorize the jail administrator to deduct the amount from the inmate's jail trust account or any other account or fund established by or for the benefit of the inmate while incarcerated. Nothing in T.C.A. § 41-4-142 shall be construed as authorizing the jail administrator to deny necessary clothing or hygiene items or to fail to provide the services specified in T.C.A. § 41-4-142(b) based on the inmate's inability to pay such fee or costs. T.C.A. § 41-4-142(c).

For additional information, see Jail Fees.