New Bills being Presented by TN State LegislatorsWith the start of the new calendar year and a new administration, lawmakers are ready with a variety of new bills they hope will become eventually become state laws.

A few notable criminal laws were reported by the Tennessean this month. We’ve broken them down here, so you will know what to expect if they pass, and what kind of penalties you might face if charged with breaking a new law.

Tennessee may be getting sport betting

The US Supreme Court approved sports betting in a recent decision. Sponsors are proposing the following provisions;

  • Sports gambling would be permitted if a city approves the gambling in a local election.
  • There would be a 10% tax on any gambling revenue. The tax money would be placed in the Tennessee general fund to be used by community colleges and colleges of “applied technologies,” as well as local governments who want to make improvements to education and infrastructure.
  • A gaming commission would be created to regulate the betting. The commission would work with other Tennessee agencies to enforce the state betting laws.

School zones, drug offenses and “enhanced” crimes

Current laws would “make it an enhanced crime to sell half an ounce or less of marijuana in a drug-free school zone.”

The penalties for “enhanced crimes” for drug-related crimes in school zones would be increased. For counties where the population is 300,000 or more, the distance from the school that would be defined as a “school zone” would be decreased from 1,000 feet to 500 feet.

Vaping will be banned in certain areas

Using vaping cartridges, e-cigarettes, or similar items would be prohibited at the following locations:

  • Inside child care centers
  • Inside healthcare facilities with the exception of nursing homes
  • Zoos
  • Museums
  • Private and public schools
  • Other possible locations


Proposals include designating some indoor and outdoor locations as permissible for vaping provided that children aren’t nearby.

Self-defense protections for juvenile sex-trafficking victims

Inspired by the Cyntoia Brown Case, and Governor Haslam’s clemency for her, a bill is being proposed to protect juveniles “from being charged if they commit an act of violence while being the victim of a sex offense. The bill proposes creating a presumption that a minor engaged in prostitution had a reasonable belief that using force was necessary to avoid death or serious injury.”

Lengthening the statute of limitations for child sex crimes

This bill aims to give more time to file sex crimes charges where the victim was a child. The time to file would be lengthened for some crimes if law enforcement wasn’t notified within three years of the offense. The bill also corrects a concern regarding juvenile sex crimes committed after July 1, 2014.

Additional bills would reduce the penalties for illegal possession of a firearm and would offer military members more protection for expired hand-gun permits.

The laws change constantly. What doesn’t change is our dedication to providing the best criminal defenses possible. At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, our Sevierville defense lawyers fight to obtain acquittals, to have charges dismissed, to exclude evidence, and to negotiation fair plea agreements. For help now, please call us at (865) 428-8780 or fill out our contact form. We represent defendants in Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the surrounding Tennessee communities.