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Know The Laws: New Ones Take Effect In Tennessee Today

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A multitude of new laws enacted by the Tennessee General Assembly this year went into effect today.

Included in the list are:

Capital Punishment - Adds murder committed against a pregnant woman as an aggravating factor for purposes of imposing death sentence in first degree murder cases.

Domestic Violence - Authorizes judge to direct defendant convicted of domestic assault to complete counseling program; failure to complete program if so ordered would be grounds for revocation of defendant's participation in alternative sentencing program; increases from $200 to $225 fee that defendant convicted of domestic assault may be ordered to pay.

Domestic Violence - Increases the civil penalty for violating an order of protection from $50 to $500.

Orders of Protection - As enacted, specifies that a protection order issued to protect the petitioner from domestic abuse, stalking or sexual assault may prohibit the respondent from coming about the petitioner for any purpose; specifies that order of protection forms be used exclusively in all courts exercising jurisdiction over orders of protection.

Sexual Offenses - Adds offense of aggravated rape of a child to list of offenses for which offender is required to be sentenced to community supervision for life.

Juvenile Offenders - Adds aggravated rape of a child to the list of offenses for which a juvenile may be transferred from juvenile court to adult court.

Domestic Relations - Requires court to hold in contempt any person who makes false allegation of sexual abuse in furtherance of litigation; also requires false accuser to pay other party's litigation costs.

Drugs - Creates offense of selling synthetic urine; excepts sales for bona fide educational, medical, and scientific purposes; violation punishable as Class C misdemeanor.

DUI / DWI Offenses - Requires that the determination of whether a DUI offender is a multiple offender be made by counting the number of years that have elapsed between "the dates of the violations that resulted in the convictions" rather than the number of years that have elapsed between "the dates of the convictions"; applies to an offender if at least one DUI violation of the offender occurs on or after July 1, 2010.

DUI Fines and Penalties - Increases blood alcohol or drug concentration test (BADT) fee from $100 to $250, and adds to present offenses mandating such fine conviction of reckless driving or simple possession or casual exchange of controlled substance; revises manner in which moneys in the TBI toxicology unit intoxicant testing fund are used.

Handgun Permits — Authorizes persons with handgun permit to carry handgun while big game bowhunting during the archery-only deer season.

Motor Vehicles - (1) Adds motorcycles to lemon laws regarding warranty protections; (2) Authorizes certain municipalities to allow golf carts on certain public roads within their jurisdiction upon the adoption of an ordinance by a two-thirds vote.

Traffic Safety - Authorizes bicycles to proceed through intersections with inoperative vehicle detection devices due to weight of the bicycle.

Evidence - Requires that the law enforcement officer operating a device to measure the speed of a motor vehicle be trained in the use of the device in order for the results of the use of the device to be admissible as proof of the speed of the motor vehicle or the conduct of the driver; requires that the law enforcement officer operating a device used to measure the alcohol content in a person's blood be trained by a recognized certification organization in the field as qualified to operate the device, in order for the results of the use of the device to be admissible as proof of the alcohol content in a person's blood or the intoxication of a person.

Education - (1) Allows Local Education Agencies (LEAs) greater flexibility in extending the school day in order to offset days used for professional development pr weather-related closings; (2) Prohibits schools and boards of education from separating multiple birth siblings into different classrooms solely due to such siblings being multiple birth siblings; allows LEAs to use reasonably obtainable information in determining whether a student who dropped out of school enrolled elsewhere; allows LEAs to include GEDs in calculating graduation rates for all purposes other than those in which such inclusion is prohibited by federal law; (3) Urges civics class to be taught in high school.

Sentencing - Provides that an adjudication or finding by a juvenile court that a defendant committed an act as a juvenile that constitutes a Class A or Class B felony if committed by an adult counts as a "prior conviction" for purposes of determining an appropriate sentencing range for a defendant.

Sentencing - Diverts certain non-violent property offenders from sentence of incarceration to sentence to community correction, probation or diversion program and increases percentage of sentence person convicted of aggravated robbery with weapon must serve. People convicted of armed robbery now will serve a minimum of 70 percent of their prison sentence rather than the customary 30 percent.

Textbooks - Requires students be allowed to take textbooks that are assigned to the student home in order to study.

Motor Vehicles, Titling and Registration - Adds language "www.tnvacation.com" to all license plates, except special license plates, to promote state's official travel planning web site.

Sexual Offenders - Revises requirements for registered sex offender to attend conference at school or similar place as parent to drop off or pick up child at school.

Firearms and Ammunition - Allows person without handgun carry permit to transport rifle or shotgun in or on a privately-owned motor vehicle provided there is no ammunition in chamber or cylinder and no loaded clip or magazine in the weapon or in close proximity to the weapon or device.

Animals and Animal Cruelty - Creates a Class A misdemeanor offense for a person who was previously convicted of animal cruelty if such person subsequently violates an animal custody restriction imposed by the sentencing court.

Methamphetamine - Clarifies that it is a Class B misdemeanor for any person, other than one carrying out cleanup of the quarantine property, knowingly to inhabit quarantined property; to enter into quarantined property without federal, state or municipal government authorization; to offer such property to the public for temporary or indefinite habitation; or to remove any signs or notices of the quarantine.

Sexual Offenders - Establishes procedures for revocation of license to practice medicine or other restrictions on practice if licensee found to be, after hearing, a person required to register as a sex offender.

Consumer Protection - Prohibits the advertising, promotion, and sale of international driver's licenses; establishes that such practices and other related acts violate the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act; imposes certain civil penalties on such violations.

Drugs - Creates Class A misdemeanor for production, manufacture, distribution, possession, or possession with the intent to produce, manufacture or distribute the synthetic cannabiniods JHW-018, JHW-073, HU-210, and HU-211; does not apply to lawfully prescribed drugs or substances.

Criminal Offenses - Authorizes prosecutors to allow guardians or children violating truancy laws to attend parent education training and parent-teacher conferences as an alternative to criminal prosecution.

Trusts - As enacted, enacts the Tennessee Community Property Trust Act of 2010. This bill authorizes spouses to classify any or all of their property as community property by transferring property to a community property trust and providing in the trust that the property is community property.

Property - Lenders must send a debtor a foreclosure notice at least 60 days prior to publication of a foreclosure sale on an owner-occupied residence, with information on options for a resolution, loan-modification programs and possible governmental aid. As enacted, requires that notice of the right to foreclose be sent to debtor prior to foreclosure; requires that specific information be included in notice.

Criminal Offenses - As enacted, makes it a Class A misdemeanor offense for a person who has been convicted of a violent felony to own, possess, or have custody or control of a vicious dog or a potentially vicious dog. This bill creates a new Class E felony criminal offense, knowing possession of a vicious dog by any person who has been convicted of a felony involving the use or attempted use of force, violence, or a deadly weapon.

Criminal Offenses - Makes it a Class A misdemeanor for any person to knowingly intercept any radio frequency transmission with the intent to use the intercepted transmission to commit, facilitate, or aid in the flight from a criminal offense. This bill creates various new criminal offenses concerning the possession of certain radios.

DNA and Genetic Testing - Requires TBI to maintain a DNA database of certain juvenile sexual offenders and adds an adjudication of delinquency for an act which if committed as an adult would constitute aggravated rape of a child to the list of acts for which a court shall require a juvenile to submit a DNA sample.

Local Government, General - Prohibits local governments from punishing or rewarding law enforcement officers solely based on the number of traffic citations issued or collected upon.

Contractors - Punishes as theft certain actions of persons performing home improvement services; requires the board of licensing contractors to post information on its web site when the board disciplines a contractor or home improvement services provider or contractor; revises other provisions regarding home improvement services contractors and providers.

Welfare - Requires parents or caretaker relatives who are recipients of Families First to agree to either a parent education training class or a program of volunteer community service in schools as part of the personal responsibility plan.

Food and Food Products - Requires food service establishments that sell imported catfish or imported catfish products to label such catfish or catfish products as "imported" on their menus.

Elderly Persons / Tennessee Bureau of Investigation - Establishes the Silver Alert system within the TBI to provide statewide information distribution regarding missing person suffering from dementia or other cognitive impairment.
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