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What Should I Do If I Get into Legal Trouble in Nashville as a Tourist?


What Should I Do If I Get into Legal Trouble in Nashville as a Tourist?

On behalf of Patrick T. McNally, Attorney at Law | 

No one wants to get in trouble with the law while on vacation. You are on a well-earned respite, and yet you find yourself embroiled in a bad situation. In the middle of the time that you carefully planned and paid for, you are suddenly having to deal with legal consequences.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people who are having a good time to get carried away. Drunk driving and alcohol- or drug-related crimes are especially common ways that people get themselves into trouble while on vacation. Often, what starts as an opportunity to loosen up spirals into a few inadvisable decisions. When the police get involved, your dream vacation becomes a nightmare.

Legal trouble is a serious matter regardless of when or how you run into it. It is even worse when you are outside your home state. Trying to prove your innocence in a system that you know is hard enough. Trying to deal with a system you have never interacted with or heard of before can be insurmountable without appropriate help.

What should I do if I get into legal trouble in Nashville as a tourist?

What You Might Overlook When Facing Out-of-State Legal Trouble

There are several problems that people can get themselves into when dealing with the legal system while on vacation. Tennessee, like many other states in the U.S., requires all cases to be tried in the state. This requirement applies even to misdemeanors and citations. This can be an unpleasant surprise for visitors. If you are allowed to leave the state at all, you will still have to return to the state for court processes arising from the case. Failure to appear for your hearings can result in an automatic Class A misdemeanor. This can result in automatic additions to the penalties that you may already be facing. It can also cause the judge to be less sympathetic to your case than they would have been originally.

Furthermore, leaving Tennessee before addressing the charges against you can lead to additional charges. There may even be warrants issued for your arrest. This is a measure that many states have in place to discourage defendants from fleeing their charges. However, if you are charged in your home state, you are unlikely to run afoul of it by accident. As a resident of that state, you are more likely to be familiar with the laws there. On vacation, you may only have planned to be in the state for a few days.

Talk to a Defense Attorney

In this case, it is absolutely crucial that you consult with a criminal defense attorney that is licensed in that state. This should be done as soon as you are arrested, ticketed, or charged. If you wait to get an attorney until after you have concluded your vacation, you may have already inadvertently violated restrictions on travel or other laws. An attorney can go over any unfamiliar local requirements with you. They can also help make arrangements with the court about your travel. That way, you can be sure that you are properly obeying the law.

Another reason to immediately seek aid is that you will need an attorney who has passed the Tennessee bar. This can obviously be very difficult to find back home. Even if you can locate someone in your home state who has been certified to practice law in Tennessee, they will have to travel back to Tennessee, potentially multiple times. This will cost you additional money because your case requires more of their time and resources. Utilizing a local attorney gives you someone who is:

  • Located where your case will be tried
  • More familiar with the laws of the state
  • Able to easily speak to anyone local who was involved in your case


Q: What Are Common Crimes Against Tourists?

A: The most common crimes against tourists are generally crimes of opportunity. People tend to target tourists for crimes that would be harder to get away with if a person lived there. A tourist is unlikely to be there long enough to collaborate with the police or the local legal system. It is often easier not to recover their possessions or seek justice. Some common crimes that often target tourists occur in two major categories:

  • Theft (such as mugging, larceny, and fraud)
  • Assault (sexual or otherwise)

Q: Do Foreign Laws Apply to Tourists?

A: This depends on the country of origin. You are nearly always subject to the laws of the country that you are visiting. Whether you are also subject to the laws of your homeland when abroad can vary quite a bit. This also depends on which country you are visiting and your country of origin. It is advisable to obey the law regardless. It is also wise not to take chances with how much the authorities do or do not know.

Q: Do U.S. Laws Apply to Visitors?

A: Yes. Regardless of the origin of a traveler, visitors to the U.S. are subject to the laws of the U.S. Not all nations have extradition with the U.S. However, after someone returns from abroad, all U.S. laws always apply to people inside the nation’s borders. They will also come into effect for foreign nationals who are visiting the country.

Q: Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for My Legal Trouble as a Tourist?

A: It is especially advisable to hire a local attorney immediately upon encountering legal trouble. It is also critical to hire one who is licensed to practice law in that state. You should also refrain from leaving the state while being prosecuted for a crime without first clearing it with the authorities. This can result in additional charges being levied against you and warrants being issued. Even for small misdemeanors, leaving the state without representation can result in a series of additional charges.

Get Help at McNally Law

If you or someone you are traveling with has run afoul of the law while on vacation, do not hesitate to reach out to us for a consultation. We are happy to help you expeditiously so that you can regain your peace of mind.

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