Strangulation is one of the most deadly forms of domestic violence. Strangulation survivors are seven times more likely to become victims of homicide at the hands of their abuser, and there is often no physical evidence on the victim. Before our amendments, Tennessee's strangulation law was outdated and failed to accurately define the crime, which resulted in inconsistent enforcement of this deadly crime. Our update allows for both an intentional and knowing mental state and properly defines the act, emphasizing the fact that no visible injury is required.
(a)(1) A person commits aggravated assault who:
(A) Intentionally or knowingly commits an assault as defined in § 39-13-101, and the assault:
(i) Results in serious bodily injury to another;
(ii) Results in the death of another;
(iii) Involved the use or display of a deadly weapon; or
(iv) Involved strangulation or attempted strangulation; or
(2) For purposes of subdivision (a)(1)(A)(iv), “strangulation” means intentionally or knowingly impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure to the throat or neck or by blocking the nose and mouth of another person, regardless of whether that conduct results in any visible injury or whether the person has any intent to kill or protractedly injure the victim.
For full text of Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-102, visit LexisNexis.
AGGRAVATED PROSTITUTION (2015)
People who are convicted of aggravated prostitution are HIV positive and at the time of the crime, know that they are HIV positive. Nearly all of these offenders were victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or human trafficking. Before our amendment, people convicted of this crime were automatically placed on the sex offender registry for life. Unfortunately, this meant that these people (mostly women) could not access resources anywhere children are present, including rehabilitation facilities that allow children, sexual assault centers, domestic violence shelters, etc. This situation created a public health crisis because these women were not receiving treatment for HIV and many other conditions.
This new law allows these convicted offenders to petition their sentencing court for removal from the lifetime registry if they can show that they were victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or human trafficking. It also allows plea agreements that prevent these offenders from ever being placed on the registry at the time of their sentencing.
(a) A person who is mandated to comply with the requirements of this part, based solely upon a conviction for aggravated prostitution, under § 39-13-516, may petition the sentencing court for termination of the registration requirements based on the person's status as a victim of a human trafficking offense, as defined by § 39-13-314, a sexual offense, under title 39, chapter 13, part 5, or domestic abuse, as defined by § 36-3-601.
(b)(1) Upon receiving a petition, the court shall, at least thirty (30) days prior to a hearing on the petition, cause the office of the district attorney general responsible for prosecuting the person to be notified of the person's petition for release from the registration requirements. Upon being notified, the district attorney general shall conduct a criminal history check on the person to determine if the person has been convicted of a sexual offense or violent sexual offense during the period the person was required to comply with the requirements of this part. The district attorney general shall report the results of the criminal history check to the court, together with any other comments the district attorney general may have concerning the person's petition for release. The district attorney general may also appear and testify at the hearing in lieu of, or in addition to, submitting written comments.
(2) Notwithstanding subdivision (b)(1), a petition for termination of the registration requirements mandated by this part may be filed at any time following a verdict or finding of guilty. If the petition is filed prior to the sentencing hearing required by § 40-35-209, the court shall combine the hearing on the petition with the sentencing hearing. When the petition is filed prior to the sentencing hearing, the thirty-day notice requirement imposed pursuant to subdivision (b)(1) shall not apply; provided, however, that the district attorney general's office shall be given notice of the petition and reasonable time to comply with the requirements of subdivision (b)(1).
(c)(1) If the report of the district attorney general indicates that the petitioner has been convicted of a sexual offense or violent sexual offense while mandated to comply with the requirements of this part, the court shall deny the petition without conducting a hearing.
(2) If the report of the district attorney general indicates that the petitioner has not been convicted of a sexual offense or violent sexual offense while mandated to comply with the requirements of this part, the court shall conduct a hearing on the petition. At the hearing, the court shall call such witnesses, including, if applicable, an examining psychiatrist or licensed psychologist with health service designation or the prosecuting district attorney general, as the court deems necessary to reach an informed and just decision on whether the petitioner should be released from the requirements of this part. The petitioner may offer such witnesses and other proof at the hearing as is relevant to the petition.
(3) If a petition for release from the requirements of this part is denied by the court, the person may not file another such petition for a period of three (3) years.
(4) If the court determines that the petitioner has been a victim of a human trafficking offense, as defined by § 39-13-314, sexual offense, under title 39, chapter 13, part 5, or domestic abuse, as defined by § 36-3-601, and that the person should not be required to comply with the requirements of this part, the court shall grant the petition.
(d) Upon the court's order granting the petition, the petitioner shall file a request for termination of registration requirements with the Tennessee bureau of investigation headquarters in Nashville, pursuant to § 40-39-207.
For full text of Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-29-218, visit LexisNexis.
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