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New Tennessee Criminal Laws That Took Effect July 1

 Posted on July 21,2021 in Criminal Defense

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.

Lifetime Order of Protection

Lawmakers passed several laws that increase the penalties for stalking and domestic violence crimes. One of those laws allows a victim to obtain a lifetime order of protection under certain crimes:

  • Felony assault

  • Attempted homicide

  • Kidnapping

  • Sexual offenses

The law also now allows ex parte (temporary) orders of protection for up to one year.

Truth in Sentencing

Under Tennessee’s new truth in sentencing law, certain violent or sexual offenders will now be required to serve 100 percent of their sentence, with no opportunity for probation or parole

These crimes include:

  • Aggravated child abuse

  • Aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor

  • Continuous sexual abuse of a child

  • Domestic assault

  • Incest

  • Promoting prostitution

  • Rape

  • Sexual battery

  • Sexual battery by an authority figure

  • Trafficking for a commercial sex act


Wisconsin lawmakers also passed bills that address some new types of theft crimes. The first law addresses the issues of “porch pirates.” These are individuals who steal delivered packages that are left on doorways and mailboxes. While a conviction for a first offense will still be based on the stolen item’s value, second or subsequent offenses will result in a Class E felony charge, no matter what the item’s value is.

In an effort to address the dramatic spike in the number of catalytic converters being stolen from vehicles, both in Wisconsin and across the country, the law will now require any person who is buying unattached converters to be registered as a scrap metal dealer with a fixed business location. The law also requires the person selling a converter to provide identification and documentation.

Call a Knox County Defense Attorney for Legal Assistance

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you need to have a skilled Knoxville, TN criminal law attorney defending you and making sure your rights are protected. Contact Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Lawyer today at 865-281-1000 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.


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