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Knoxville criminal defense for 2021 laws changesJanuary 1 and July 1 are traditionally the dates that new laws go into effect in Tennessee and this year is no different. Tennessee lawmakers have been busy passing a wide array of new bills, many of them aimed at the criminal justice system. The following are some of the changes that everyone should be aware of, especially since they could affect what type of criminal charge and penalties an individual may be facing.

Constitutional Carry Law

One of the major changes is in Tennessee’s Constitutional Carry law. The new law means that residents who are 21 years of age or older will no longer have to apply for a permit or take safety courses in order to carry a handgun. The penalty for stealing a gun is harsher, however, since the crime will now be charged as a Class E felony. More details about this law can be found in a prior post our firm published, “Tennessee Passes New Permitless Gun Law.”

Spencer Bristol Act

Another law that increases the penalties for conviction involves evading arrest by foot. If the evading of arrest causes a law enforcement officer to suffer serious bodily injury, the charge is now a Class C felony. Conviction means three to 15 years in prison. If the officer dies from their injuries, the charge is a Class A felony, and conviction means 15 to 60 years in prison. The new law was named after Master Patrol Officer Spencer Bristol of the Hendersonville Police Department, who was struck and killed by a vehicle while chasing a suspect on foot.

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Knoxville criminal defense for Juvenile crimeGun violence has reached epidemic proportions around the country. Tragically, Knoxville has not been spared. So far this year, 22 victims have been shot to death. According to information released by the Knoxville Police Department, five of the victims were teenagers and, just as alarming, three of those accused of committing the murders are also teens.

Knoxville Community Involvement

Now that summer is here, the concern is that the violence will escalate since teens are out of school and have more time on their hands. This has led Knoxville officials to look for different ways to help minimize the violence and keep teens off the streets and out of trouble.

The city has partnered with 13 different community groups to employ teens from 12 to 21 years of age who have been identified as high risk for either perpetrating a violent crime or being a victim of one. High-risk youth are referred to as “opportunity youth.” Knoxville officials have awarded grants of between $3,000 to $20,000 to organizations that have developed programs that will introduce mentors to teens, teach them job skills, and provide activities that will keep them occupied.

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Anderson County gun charges attorneyThe governor of Tennessee has just signed a new law that will allow adults to carry handguns without the need for training or a background check. They will not be required to obtain a permit for either open carry or concealed carry. There are currently 30 states that allow permitless open carry and 20 states that allow permitless concealed carry. At least a half dozen other states are considering similar legislation. The new law goes into effect July 1, 2021.

New Law

Under the new law, any adult 21 years of age or older will be allowed to carry either an open or concealed handgun without a permit. The law will also allow military members who are between the ages of 18 to 20 the same right. The current law requires Tennessee citizens to obtain a permit in order to carry a handgun. In order to get that permit, the applicant must go through required training, background checks, and fingerprinting. None of that will be necessary under the new law. The new law only applies to handguns. Permits will still be required for long guns.

While the new law does make it easier for adults to carry handguns, it also increases the penalties for certain gun crimes. For example, the theft of a firearm, which is currently charged as a misdemeanor, will now be charged as a felony. That means the penalty for conviction goes from a potential maximum 30-day sentence to a mandatory six-month jail sentence with no possibility of early release.

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Blount County sexual assault defense lawyerThere are many different ways that non-consensual sexual acts can be charged under Tennessee law. Some of the most common crimes are rape and sexual battery. Cases involving aggravating factors, such as brandishing a weapon to rape or committing assault against a child, carry much more severe punishments. Even if a child or a teenager claims to consent to a sexual act, it may still be considered illegal in the state of Tennessee. This is generally classified as statutory rape. If an unmarried female who is under the age of 18 is pregnant, and the presumed father of the child is more than four years older than her, an attending physician is expected to tell the authorities about the situation with the patient’s (or her parents’) consent. In some cases, however, a person may be charged with sexual assault based on false allegations. 

Understanding How Sex Crimes Are Defined in Tennessee

Rape is defined as sexual penetration of a victim using force or coercion (such as threatening violence or kidnapping) or without the victim’s consent when the defendant is aware of the lack of consent. It can also be charged when the defendant knows the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated. 

The offense of sexual battery is sexual contact (intentionally touching another person’s intimate parts, even with clothing on, for sexual gratification or arousal) using force, coercion, or without the victim’s consent, or in situations where the defendant knows the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated. A person may also be charged with sexual battery if an act of sexual contact was accomplished by fraud.

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Anderson County federal criminal defense attorneyBeing charged with a criminal offense can result in serious consequences. A person can face costly fines, loss of driving privileges or professional licenses, and a lifetime behind bars, depending on the severity of the crime. There are certain crimes that warrant charges at both the state and federal levels. Federal agencies often have more resources available to investigate alleged crimes, and they take their time gathering important evidence to support their claims. That is why it is imperative that anyone facing federal charges for racketeering or conspiracy seek professional legal assistance as soon as possible. 

What Is Racketeering?

Racketeering may be committed at the state or federal level. Racketeering can refer to the act of acquiring a business, organization, or company through illegal activity; operating a business with illegally obtained income; or using a business operation to commit illegal acts. Federal crimes of racketeering may include the following offenses:

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