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Richard Lewis Tennent

Federal crime Attorney at Nashville, TN

5.0   1 review
  • Licensed for 30 years
    State TN
    Acquired 1994
    Active No misconduct found

We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.

About Richard

Learn Richard’s areas of practice.

Practice areas
  1. Federal crime

    18 years, 50 cases

  2. Appeals

    29 years, 30 cases

  3. Criminal defense

    30 years, 2,500 cases

     If you are accused of a crime, you want positive results--not your face on the front page of the paper.  If you have been convicted and are fighting an appeal, you want a positive outcome--not hot air and a hole in your family's savings.  Competent and zealous lawyering, that is centered on the client and respects the client's dignity and privacy is Mr. Tennent's goal.  He maintains a small case load in the federal, appellate, Davidson and Williamson County courts, so that he can properly focus on each and every client.


    Richard Tennent is a founding member of Bell, Tennent & Frogge. He earns his living entirely by defending persons accused of misdeeds in the federal, state and appellate courts. On rare occasions he also does pro bono environmental and land use law.

    Over the past twenty years, Mr. Tennent has represented persons accused of the most serious offenses under our laws. He has taken eleven first-degree murder cases to jury trial, and has won acquittals or verdicts to significantly reduced offenses in eight of those. He has won not guilty verdicts on offenses including aggravated robbery, carjacking, distribution of 40 kilograms of heroin, possession of cocaine, aggravated assault on a police officer, rape of a child, aggravated burglary, aggravated assault and aggravated child abuse. Mr. Tennent has learned over and over that good citizens are wrongfully charged with terrible crimes of which they are innocent.  He has also learned that citizens are often ‘over-charged’ as he has won lesser verdicts to misdemeanors, when the government sought felony convictions.

    Mr. Tennent has successfully handled very challenging criminal appeals.  He has won reversals and new trials in cases of First Degree Murder, Rape and Aggravated Sexual Battery. One of his most challenging appeals was done in the case of State v. Ward, 138 S.W.3d 245 (. 2003), where he successfully challenged the dubious "scientific" theory that three unexplained deaths means murder. Other more recent successes include: State v. Fleschman 2008 WL 5130449, ., December 08, 2008 (sentence reduced from three-years to six-months on solicitation of minor case), and State v. Williams, 2006 WL 3431920 ., November 29, 2006 (rape conviction reversed for prosecutorial misconduct and erroneous use of DNA evidence).

    Mr. Tennent also understands that sometimes the best defense is securing mercy, justice and leniency. In the District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, over the last eight years, he has had repeated successes in securing sentences significantly below the “advisory guideline recommendation.” He understands the importance of well-crafted sentencing memorandums that help the sentencing judge see his client as full human being, entitled to respect, and possessing human dignity. Mr. Tennent’s clients are not mere numbers, but individuals with unique human stories.

    In 1994, Mr. Tennent graduated from the Vanderbilt School of Law, having earned American Jurisprudence Awards for both Criminal Law and Post-Conviction Criminal Procedure. Since law school he has earned a Master of Studies in Environmental Law from the Vermont Law School, graduating summa cum laude.  He attended Michigan State University on a National Merit Scholarship, graduating in 1990 with Honors.

           Mr. Tennent is a member of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, and serves on the amicus committee. He is licensed to practice in the State of Tennessee, the Middle District of Tennessee and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. He is very active in the Metro Public Schools where he has been the Chairman of Parents Advisory Council, as well as the founding PTO President of the Lockeland Design


Bell, Tennent & Frogge, PLLC Law Office
414 Union Street
Suite 904
Nashville, TN, 37219

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5.0 / 5.0
  1 customer review
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1 Star
Posted by anonymous | September 3, 2015
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
A great attorney.
Richard is a very brilliant constitutional law and appellate lawyer. He handled an appeal for me and the result was absolute vindication for me. I recommend him without reservation.


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AVVO RATING 9.3 (Superb)

Work Experience

  • Founding Partner
  • Bell, Tennent & Frogge
  • 2007 - Present
  • Defense Advocate
  • Law Office of Richard Tennent
  • 2005 - 2007
  • Division Chief
  • Metropolitan Public Defender
  • 2001 - 2005
  • Staff Attorney
  • Metropolitan Legal Department-Nashville
  • 2000 - 2001
  • Assistant Public Defender
  • Metropolitan Public Defender
  • 1994 - 2000
View all work experience


  • Vermont Law School
  • Masters - summa cum laude
  • 2006
  • Vanderbilt University Law School
  • JD - Juris Doctor
  • 1994
  • Michigan State University
  • BA - Bachelor of Arts
  • 1990

Sample of Legal Cases

  • State v. J.W.
  • Jury Verdict-Not guilty.
  • McKenzie v. McKenzie
  • Win on appeal. Contempt reversed.
  • State v. Pollard
  • Victory-Consecutive Sentencing Reversed, New Sentencing Ordered
View all legal cases


  • TACDL-Amicus Committee
  • Committee Member
  • 2012 - Present
  • National Board of Trial Advocacy
  • Member
  • 2009 - Present
  • Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Member
  • 1994 - Present
  • Parents Advisory Council
  • Chairman
  • 2015 - 2016
View all associations

Languages Spoken

  • English

Honors and Awards

  • Peer Review Rated
  • Martindale-Hubbell
  • 2016
  • Top 100 Trial Lawyer
  • The National Trial Lawyers
  • 2013
  • American Jurisprudence Award-Post-Conviction Criminal Procedure
  • Vanderbilt University Law School
  • 1993
  • American Jurisprudence Award-Criminal Law
  • Vanderbilt University Law School
  • 1992
View all awards


  • Encyclopedia of the Fourth Amendment
  • Sibron v. New York
  • 2013
  • Encyclopedia of the Fourth Amendment
  • Custodial Arrest
  • 2013

Speaking Engagements

  • Federal Public Defender CLE
  • Mega-Cases
  • 2011
  • Federal Public Defender CLE
  • Handling Child Pornography
  • 2010
  • Representing Clients Charged with Child Abuse
  • Psychological Issues
  • 2007

Attorney endorsements

Received (6)
Given (11)
Endorse Richard
Criminal defense Attorney | Sep 02
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer."
Criminal defense Attorney | Apr 08
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"When I have client that has any kind of complex or difficult criminal issue that needs resolution, I recommend Richard. His years of experience and vast knowledge of juvenile and criminal law makes him the go-to guy on such matters in Davidson County."
Criminal defense Attorney | Oct 31
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer."
Appeals Attorney | Sep 22
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I strongly endorse this lawyer. Richard Tennent is, without question, one of the best appellate attorneys in the state of Tennessee."
Criminal defense Attorney | May 26
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse Richard. He is a highly skilled attorney that is well respected in the legal community."
Criminal defense Attorney | May 10
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Richard Tennent is an excellent defense attorney, and it has been my pleasure to work with him on many cases. I endorse him without reservation."
View more endorsements
Criminal defense
Juvenile law
Criminal defense
Criminal defense
Criminal defense
Federal crime
Federal crime
Criminal defense

Avvo Contributions

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Nashville Federal crime Lawyer Richard Lewis Tennent
Richard Lewis Tennent
Federal crime Attorney
Nashville, TN
Licensed for 30 years