TENNESSEE’S ‘VIOLENT JUVENILE SEXUAL OFFENDER’ REGISTRATION LAW - Articles

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Posted by: Christy Gibson on Jun 18, 2012

     Those who represent juveniles in delinquency proceedings need to be aware of some new provisions pertaining to juveniles convicted of certain sexual offenses.  As of July 1, 2011, juveniles convicted of certain sexual crimes must register as sex offenders.  This new registration requirement applies to those found delinquent in juvenile courts.  Minors who are transferred to adult court, however, are exempt as they are already treated as adults, registering under the rules for adults. 

     The new registration requirement does not apply to every sexual based crime.  It only applies to those juveniles classified as “Violent Juvenile Sexual Offenders.”  To classify as a “Violent Juvenile Sexual Offender,” the following criteria must be met:

            1.            The juvenile must be fourteen (14) or older when adjudicated delinquent for a qualifying offense;

            2.            The juvenile must be adjudicated delinquent for committing one of the qualifying offenses, which are: Rape, Aggravated Rape, Rape of a Child (if the victim is four or more years younger than the delinquent), Aggravated Rape of a Child,

                           OR   

                           Attempt to commit any of the qualifying offenses.

AND    3.   The offense must have occurred on or after July 1, 2011.

     Some offenses committed outside the state of Tennessee also require registration.  If the juvenile was required to register in the state where the offense occurred, they are required to register in Tennessee, whatever the crime or date of crime.  Further, if a juvenile commits an offense outside of Tennessee and subsequently moves to Tennessee, this offense may also have to be registered if it meets the criteria for registration had the offense been committed in Tennessee.  For this scenario, a determination must be made by the TBI Sex Offender Registry Unit.  This unit should be contacted for registration information for such offenses.           

     Registration for a juvenile, however, is significantly different from registration as an adult.  First, the juvenile does not have to pay the registration fee until the age of eighteen.  The juvenile need not maintain the photo identification or driver’s license required by adult sex offenders until the juvenile reaches eighteen.  Further, the juvenile does not have to comply with any special residence restrictions, unless the court so orders.  Most notably, juveniles do not register on the public sex offender registry.  They are kept on a confidential list only available to law enforcement.  Only if the juvenile sex offender commits another sexual offense will the previously confidential record become public.

     Advocates should be aware that inclusion on the registry is not necessarily permanent.  A violent juvenile sex offender may also be eligible to have his or her information removed from the registration list.  Upon reaching the age of twenty-five (25), if the offender has not subsequently been found delinquent on another of the qualifying offenses or convicted of a qualifying sexual offense, the offender may apply to have his or her information taken off the registry.  The offender must submit a form through the TBI to escape the registration requirements.

     The information in this article and further details may be found in Tennessee Code Annotated § 40-39-202 et.  seq.