Statute of Limitations on Outstanding Warrants in Tennessee

Tennessee only applies time restrictions on misdemeanor-based warrants.
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A arrest warrant in Tennessee issues when a defendant fails to appear in court as ordered. While the statute of limitations applies in Tennessee to the period of time the state has to file charges against a defendant, the state only applies a statute of limitations to misdemeanor charges. Where the state has not served, returned or quashed a misdemeanor warrant within five years from the date of issuance, the warrant is automatically terminated.

Arrest Under Warrant

Tennessee defines a warrant of arrest under Section 40-6-201 of the Tennessee Code of Criminal Procedure as a written order issued in the absence of the defendant, commanding an officer to arrest the defendant.

Read More: Felony Arrest Warrant Police Procedures

Statute of Limitations Generally

Statutes of limitation define how long the state has to file charges in Tennessee. The amount of time varies greatly based upon the type and nature of the charge the defendant is facing. Tennessee applies no statute of limitations to any crime punishable by death or life imprisonment. Class A felonies have a 15-year statute of limitations, Class B felonies an eight-year restriction, scaling down to a one-year limitation on misdemeanors. Note that the statute of limitations does not run where there has been concealment of a crime. In these circumstances, the statute begins upon discovery of the crime.


Pursuant to 40-6-206, a warrant that has not been served, returned or quashed within five years on a misdemeanor charge is automatically terminated and is removed from court records.

Statewide Application

A warrant issued in one jurisdiction empowers law enforcement officers anywhere in the state to take the defendant into custody pursuant to 40-6-213.

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