NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee 113th General Assembly has passed a number of laws related to criminal offenses that will take effect at the beginning of July.
Crime and public safety were top of mind for many this year, with numerous people calling for gun reform after six people were killed in a mass shooting at The Covenant School on March 27 while the first half of the legislative session was underway.
The legislature also passed several controversial bills, including SB0003, which makes it a crime to engage in an “adult cabaret performance” on public property and SB0001, which prohibits gender-affirming care for minors who are transgender.
However, there were a number of bills passed that flew under the radar. Some of them are amending existing criminal procedures, while others create new offenses. Below are some of the crime bills you might have missed that go into effect July 1.
Carrying weapons on school property (HB0159/SB0172)
Under this law, adults will be able to carry a pocketknife on school property while voting in elections, as long as the knife remains concealed at all times. The school must be their designated polling place.
Previously, it was a felony offense to carry a pocketknife, whether concealed or not, on school property, unless the weapon was being used for instructional or school-sanctioned ceremonial purposes. Firearms and explosives are still prohibited, with some exceptions for guns.
University employees allowed weapons (HB0723/SB0515)
Retired federal, state or local law enforcement officers who served for at least 20 years, retired in good standing and who are now employed at a public institution of higher education will be allowed to carry weapons on school property.
Present law already makes several exceptions to the offense of carrying weapons on school property, including exemptions for employees who have an enhanced handgun carry permit. This bill simply adds retired law enforcement to those exemptions.
Selling tattoo equipment to minors (HB0167/SB0450)
Under this law, it will be illegal to sell or give “tattoo paraphernalia or body piercing paraphernalia” to a minor. Distributors will be required to ID anyone trying to purchase needles used for tattooing, design patterns and any other tattoo or body piercing equipment.
The bill also makes it a delinquent act for a minor to purchase tattoo or body piercing equipment or present a fake ID claiming that they are 18 years of age or older. If violated, minors could face a $50 fine.
An exception is made for minors participating in undercover law enforcement operations testing compliance at the consent of their parent or legal guardian.
Sentencing for kidnapping and rape (HB005/SB0018)
This bill requires a person convicted of especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated rape or rape to be sentenced from within at least Range II, which is anywhere from 25 to 40 years for a Class A felony offense and anywhere from 12 to 20 years for a Class B felony offense.
Especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape are both Class A felony offenses, while rape is a Class B felony offense.
Criminal immunity during drug overdoses (HB0075/SB0256)
In cases where people are seeking medical attention after more than one overdose, they could be immune from being arrested, charged or prosecuted. This is at the discretion of the responding law enforcement officer or district attorney general’s office.
Previously, criminal immunity could only be extended to a person seeking medical attention on their first overdose. However, this legislation rewrites the bill to include “a person who experiences subsequent drug overdoses.”
Present law defines “seeks medical assistance” as accessing or assisting in accessing the 911 system; law enforcement or a poison control center; or providing care while awaiting the arrival of medical assistance.
Substance abuse treatment (HB0144/SB0328)
This bill changes the criminal procedure for people with more than one conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) by reducing the number of days they must serve in prison before being able to participate in a substance abuse treatment program.
Previously, offenders were required to serve at least 25 days of their sentence before participating in a substance abuse treatment program. Now, the number of days will be reduced to 17.
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After a third conviction for DUI, offenders will also be required to wear a transdermal alcohol monitoring device for a minimum of 90 days of continuous sobriety.