Wamp says deputies rightly enforce warrantless arrest law

Jon Luman, a Red Bank carpenter, sits in the criminal court in Hamilton County as local cops, deputies repeatedly harass him for the exercise of his right to communicate and move about in his car. City and county arrested him on the spot without a warrant in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. 40-7-103. (Photo David Tulis)

David, great to hear from you again. It would seem that you have learned a lot about warrantless arrests since our last encounter! I hear you’ve been saying great things about me on the radio… which, to your credit, means that people are listening. Congratulations.

Your email seems to only serve as a Notice to the Sheriff’s Office and does not actually ask for a response. But, I am happy to share my thoughts.

[This post is by Coty Wamp, counsel to Hamilton County sheriff Jim Hammond, in response to a letter a few hours earlier from me regarding continuing violations of the arrest by officer without warrant law. — DJT[

Coty Wamp is counsel for the Hamilton County sheriff’s department. (Photo HCSO)

Driving on a Revoked License, in Ms. Strickland’s case, is an A misdemeanor. It is an A misdemeanor based upon her previous criminal history (see the Driving on Revoked statute TCA 55-50-504). As you well know, an A misdemeanor is a criminal offense punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in the jail.

While everyone is entitled to their opinion on criminal statutes and legislative intent, Driving on a Revoked License is an offense that qualifies under TCA 40-7-103(a)(1) as an offense that is subject to arrest without a warrant. The Deputy did, in fact, witness Ms. Strickland driving a vehicle and subsequently verified that her license to do that has been revoked.

Thank you for your Administrative Notice. Some of it, such as the citizen’s arrest portion, does not seem applicable to this case, as Ms. Strickland was arrested by a sworn Deputy. Further, your thoughts on a public offense being “akin” to a breach of peace are very interesting. However, the statute you’ve cited, which is the correct statute, specifically lists both “public offense” and “breach of peace” which tends to indicate that there is a difference between the two—if not, why would  the legislature include both?

Regardless, the law and courts are well-settled on the fact that an individual may be arrested, without a warrant, for driving on a revoked license. If there is a case that states this is unconstitutional, please forward to me, as I would love to read it.


Also in regard to your breach of peace argument, it would insinuate that there must be a breach of peace for an officer to make a warrantless arrest. If you believe this, do you believe that an officer who finds heroin, or any other illegal narcotic, in a person’s waistband does not have the ability to arrest that person without a warrant because that offense is not a “breach of peace” as you describe it? Surely not.

If a deputy were required to swear out a warrant on this type of case before he makes an arrest, he would be allowing the person to continue breaking the law by driving away.

Unless your insinuating that another deputy would sit on the side of the road with Ms. Strickland while the original deputy traveled to 601 Walnut Street to swear out the warrant? Again, surely not. Regardless, the law does not require that.

I respect your opinion and I do hope that Ms. Strickland can sort things out so that her license is reinstated and her registration renewed so that this does not happen again.

The Tulis Report is 1 p.m. weekdays, live and lococentric.


  1. James McKain
  2. James McKain

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