Memphis Sex Crimes Lawyer
Sex crimes throughout the state of Tennessee vary from crimes including rape, statutory rape, sexual battery, patronizing prostitution, solicitation of a minor and much more. All of the state’s sex crimes can be found within the Annotated Tennessee Code in Title 39 Chapter 13.
The punishments for all of these crimes are severe, but arguably one of the more serious consequences of being a Tennessee sex crime convict, is being forced onto the sex offender registry list. Both sex offenders and violent sex offenders are required to register, and the difference between these two distinctions is the type of crime committed.
What this page aims to do is give you a comprehensive overview of all Tennessee’s sex crimes and what the law precisely states pertaining to each crime, the punishments for each crime, the statute of limitations that are involved with many sex crimes, a clarification into the details involving the offender registry and sex crime statistics in Tennessee.
By going through all the information on this page, you will be informed when it comes to deciphering Tennessee’s sex crimes so that you can be more prepared to plan your prosecution as a victim of a sex crime, or defend yourself against sex crime allegations. You’ll also be able to further understand the sex offender registry process and find out how to know where convicted sex offenders live around the state.
Sex crimes are considered to be some of the most heinous offenses in our culture. For this reason, it is crucial for everyone to understand the legal nuances of each crime and be as informed as possible about such a controversial portion of criminal defense law.
What are Tennessee’s Sex Crimes?
Tennessee has delineated twelve specific crimes that are utilized to prosecute sexual assault and many other related crimes within the state’s jurisdiction.
What this section entails is an overview of each of these crimes including the legal definition and associated punishments of each criminal charge, as well as further information about Tennessee’s less common sex crimes.
Aggravated rape, TN Penal code 39-13-502, is defined as the unlawful sexual penetration of a victim by the defendant accompanied with any of the following circumstances:
- Force or coercion is used and the defendant is armed with a weapon of some kind, or any article is used to lead the victim to reasonably believe it’s a weapon;
- The defendant brings about bodily injury to the victim
- The defendant is aided or abetted by another person and force/coercion is used; and/or the defendant knows that the victim is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless
The penalty associated with aggravated rape is a Class A felony, which entails a punishment of a maximum of 60 years in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000.
Aggravated Rape of a child of three years or less
This is enforced as a statutory charge, which means that the victim is younger than the age of consent and it doesn’t matter if the victim willingly engages in the sexual relations.
It is defined as the unlawful sexual penetration of victim by the defendant, if the victim is three years of age or younger. The law is in Tennessee Code 39-13-531.
This crime is a Class A felony that entails a punishment of a maximum of 60 years in prison and a fine of $50,000.
Aggravated Sexual Battery
This crime, Tennessee Code 39-13-504, is defined as the unlawful sexual contact of a victim by the defendant, which is accompanied by any of the following circumstances:
- Force/coercion was used to accomplish the act and the defendant either has a weapon or disguises something to seem like a weapon;
- The defendant brings about bodily injury to the victim
- The defendant is aided or abetted by another person, and force/coercion is used, or the defendant knows the victim is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless; or
- The victim of the unlawful sexual contact is less than thirteen years old.
This sex crime has a Class B felony severity, which includes a punishment of a maximum of 30 years in prison and a fine of $25,000.
Aggravated Statutory Rape
This sex crime entails all of the same details as the aggravated rape crime, but the difference is that the victim must be at least 13 years old and under 18, and the offender must be at least 10 years old than the victim. Also, because this is a statutory crime, it doesn’t matter if the victim willingly engages in the sexual relations with the defendant.
The punishment for this crime, under Tennessee Code 39-13-506, includes a Class D felony severity, as well as a punishment that entails a maximum of 12 years in prison and a maximum $5,000 fine.
This is a sex crime that entails a person engaging in sexual penetration with another person knowing that the other person is:
- The person’s natural parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, stepchild, stepparent, adoptive parent, adoptive child; or
- The person’s sister or brother of whole or half-blood, or by adoption
This crime, under Tennessee Code 39-15-302, is a Class C felony and entails a punishment of a maximum of 15 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Mitigated Statutory Rape
This sex crime simply entails the sexual relations between two people, the victim being at least 15 but not 18, and the offender being at least four but not more than five years older than the victim. Since it is a statutory charge it doesn’t matter if the victim willingly engages in sexual relations with the offender.
This charge, under Tennessee Code 39-13-506, entails the severity of a Class E felony and the punishment is a maximum of 6 years in prison and a maximum fine of $3,000.
Rape, under Tennessee Code 39-13-503, is technically defined as the unlawful sexual penetration of a victim by a defendant accompanied by any of the following circumstances:
- Force/coercion was used to accomplish the sexual act;
- The victim did not give their consent for the sexual penetration and the defendant knew or had reason to believe that consent was not given at the time of penetration;
- The defendant knew or had reason to know the victim was mentally incapacitated or physically helpless; or
- The sexual penetration was accomplished via fraud.
Rape is a Class B felony and entails a punishment of a maximum of 30 years in prison and a fine up to $25,000.
Rape of a child more than three but under 13
This is another statutory charge that entails any kind of sexual relations with a child between 3-13 years old, even if the victim willingly engages in the sexual relations with the defendant.
This is a Class A felony and entails a punishment of a maximum of 60 years in prison and a fee up to $50,000. It is Code 39-13-522.
This sex crime, under Code 39-13-505, is very similar to the aggravated sexual battery crime, but there are some distinctions between the two. The crime of sexual battery is technically defined as the unlawful sexual contact with a victim by a defendant accompanied by any of the following circumstances:
- Force/coercion used to accomplish the sexual contact;
- The victim does not give consent for the sexual contact or the defendant knew or had reason to believe the victim did not give consent at the time of the contact;
- The defendant knew or had reason to believe that the victim was mentally incapacitated or physically helpless; or
- The sexual contact was accomplished via fraud.
The severity of this crime entails a Class E felony, which includes a punishment of a maximum of 6 years in prison as well as a fine up to $3,000.
Sexual battery by an authority figure
Similar to sexual battery but has an added clause that entails the authority figure aspects of this crime. The legal definition, under Code 39-13-527, is the unlawful sexual contact with a victim by the defendant accompanied by the following circumstances:
- The victim was 13 years of age or older but less than 18 at the time of the offense; or
- The victim (regardless of age) was mentally incapacitated or physically helpless at the time of the offense; AND,
- The defendant was in a position of trust, or had a disciplinary or supervisory power over the victim at the time of the offense and used the position of power or trust to accomplish the sexual act; or
- The defendant had parental or custodial authority over the victim at the time of the offense and used this authority to accomplish the sexual contact.
This crime is a Class C felony and entails a maximum prison sentence of 15 years as well as a fine up to $10,000.
Entails any sexual relations between a victim who is at least 15 but under 18 and an offender who is at least more than five years older but less than 10 years older than the victim. It also entails sexual relations with the victim that is at least 13 and under 15 and an offender who is at least four years older but less than 10 years older than the victim. Since it is a statutory charge it doesn’t matter if the victim willingly engages in the sexual relations.
The severity of this crime, Code 39-13-506, is a Class E Felony and has a punishment of a maximum prison sentence of 6 years as well as a fine up to $3,000.
Statutory rape by an authority figure
This crime, Code 39-13-532, entails the same age differences as statutory rape, but it also entails the defendant being in a position of trust or authority at the time of the offense and using that position of power to accomplish the sexual penetration. It also entails defendants with parental or custodial authority over the victim using their authority to have sexual intercourse with the victim.
The severity of this crime is a Class C felony, which entails a maximum 15-year prison sentence and a fine up to $10,000.
Other Tennessee Sex Crimes
There are many other sex crimes within the Annotated Tennessee Code, and some notable crimes include:
- Spousal rape
- Criminal exposure to HIV
- Criminal sexual conduct
- Indecent exposure
- Sexual exploitation of a minor
- Solicitation (of a minor)
- Trafficking for sexual servitude
- Use of minors for obscene purposes
To get all of the legal definitions and subsequent penalties about every Tennessee sex crime click here.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations sets up an approximate amount of time that a victim or prosecutor has to file a lawsuit. Typically, if someone files a lawsuit after the statute of limitations expires that lawsuit will be dismissed. Tennessee has different statutes of limitations for criminal and civil sexual abuse and different statutes of limitations can apply if a victim was sexually abused as a child or as an adult. Also, it’s important to understand that even if a statute of limitations is lengthened or changed over time it is the statute of limitations that existed at the time of the abusive offense that applies to each lawsuit.
Civil Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
Sexual abuse lawsuit in which the victim demands damages and/or compensation from the abuser, and the victim may possibly be entitled to economic or non-economic damages that includes compensation for pain and suffering.
In 2016, Tennessee expanded the civil statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse, and now these types of cases must be filed within:
- Three years from the victim’s 18th birthday, or
- Three years from the date the abuse was discovered.
For adult personal injury cases of sexual abuse, the statute of limitations is one year from the event.
Criminal Sexual Abuse Cases
The State of Tennessee files these kinds of cases on behalf of the victim, and in order to file criminal sexual abuse charges the victim must notify law enforcement and inform them about the kind of sexual abuse that took place. Once the authorities investigate the claims, a prosecutor could potentially end up filing charges against the abuser.
The criminal statute of limitations varies in Tennessee depending on the timing and severity of the offense. For childhood sexual abuse cases that involve sexual battery, incest or rape the following statutes of limitations include:
- If abuse happened before 7/1/1997 then the statute of limitations is the victim’s 18th birthday or within four years of the offense, or which ever is later.
- If the abuse happened in between 7/1/1997 and June of 2006 then the statute of limitations is the victim’s 21st
- If the abuse happened during or after June of 2006 then the statute of limitations for these offenses is within 25 years of the victim’s 18th
For aggravated rape, the statute of limitations is 15 years, for rape and aggravated sexual battery it is 8 years, and other sexual offenses it is between 2 and 4 years from the time of the offense.
Criminal Injuries Compensation Program
Tennessee provides financial assistance for victims of criminal sexual abuse through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program. This program will help assist in paying the medical bills, other crime-related expenses and overall pain and suffering compensation for victims.
There are pretty strict deadlines for reporting crimes and applying into this program. In order to qualify, you must report the crime to law enforcement within 48 hours of the incident, except if you are a minor, and the application for benefits must be filed within one year of when the crime occurred.
Both convicted sex offenders and violent sex offenders are required under Tennessee law to join the sex offender registry list, which is public information and accessible to anyone. Typically, a convicted sex offender will have to register at a local law enforcement office, and violent offenders will be required to report in person to that office throughout the months of March, June, September and December while a non-violent offender must report in person annually in between a week before and after their birthday. It’s also required for all offenders to report any changes in job, residence or school within 48 hours to their local law enforcement office.
Being on the registry list can really debilitate someone’s reputation and violent offenders must remain on the registry for the entirety of their lives, while non-violent offenders may petition for removal 10 years after the end of his or her sentence. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will decide if the offender should be removed from the registry. Some of the things they look for include if the applicant has not been convicted of any additional sex offenses and has complied thoroughly with the registration requirements.
Judicial diversion is the one exception to the ten-year rule, and it entails the process in which a charged criminal has their offenses removed from their record after completing probation. Diversion is not available for all defendants and is only used under special circumstances, and some sex offenses are diversion eligible in Tennessee including sexual battery and statutory rape, which are both Class E felonies and entail prison sentences from one to six years. If the defendant gets a one-year sentence and then is granted diversion they may have the opportunity to get the charge off their record and be taken off the sex offender registry after the end of the year.
For the most part sex crimes in Tennessee are not diversion eligible, and they require either a lifetime or a minimum ten-year registry.
Offenders can also find it hard to get a job or a place to live, and that’s primarily because of the restrictions on where registrants can live, work and get treatment. For the most part, registrants are not allowed within 1000 feet of a school, public park, recreation center, athletic field or day care center, and they can’t go to a park at any time of day that children under 18 are present.
It’s relatively easy to figure out if a sex offender lives near you, and as of 2016, Tennessee has 21,885 registrants. The number of registrants has skyrocketed within the last ten years considering only 8,561 people were registered sex offenders in Tennessee in 2006.
The 21,885 registrants in Tennessee as of 2016 doesn’t come close to states like Texas and California who host 88,145 and 84,611, respectively. Still, Tennessee’s number of sex offender registrants is high as compared to the vast majority of states.
For more information about Tennessee sex offenders check out the Tennessee sex offender registry.
Contact an Experienced Memphis Criminal Lawyer
With your life and liberty on the line, don’t try to represent yourself, and don’t entrust either to a public defender or to an attorney whose practice doesn’t include a strong emphasis in criminal defense. You are not a guinea pig for an inexperienced lawyer to learn from by overlooking things or making mistakes. Having the best available criminal defense law firm on your side really can make all the difference in the world for you when the state accuses you of murder. Contact the Hamilton Law Firm today.