Legislation Affecting Criminal Justice Practice - Articles

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Posted by: Jarod Word on Feb 14, 2019

As the legislative session progresses, many bills of interest to the Criminal Justice Section are on the move. Here is a list of notable legislation which has the potential to affect your practice area:

As introduced, extends the statutes of limitation for certain sexual offenses committed against children when the crime was not reported to law enforcement within three years of the offense. - Amends TCA Title 40, Chapter 2, Part 1.

As introduced, expands burglary to include entering a construction site with intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault or entering a construction site and committing a felony, theft, or assault; classifies the offense as a Class D felony.

Video footage from cameras on school buses. Requires local boards of education to adopt policies to allow for a parent of a student to request photo or video collected from a camera installed on a school bus if the parent or student reports harm, harassment, or bullying has taken place while the student was being transported on the school bus. Specifies that the policies must require that photos or video footage be viewed under supervision of the director of schools, the school principal, or a school official.

Prevents certain felony offenders from using sentence reduction credits before their minimum sentence requirement. Prevents inmates convicted of a Class A, B, or C felony from using sentence reduction credits until their minimum release eligibility date is reached, creates presumption that inmates convicted of Class E or Class D nonviolent felony will be paroled upon reaching release eligibility date absent good cause showing why an inmate should not be released.

Punishes specific offenses involving elderly adults. Orders that anyone who knowingly commits an offense against the elderly by using a communication device to obtain medical conditions, sending unsolicited medical supplies, and filing a claim of reimbursement through the state Medicare plan for the value of the supplies sent is punishable with a Class D felony.

Makes various changes to civil forfeiture procedure. Declares that in event of a seizure by an officer, the district attorney general must review the event to determine if it was justified and upon a motion to dismiss, and upon dismissal, the court shall dismiss the application without convening a forfeiture warrant hearing. Defines what to do with seized property in the event of a dismissal.

Jury instructions in determining guilt. Requires a court, upon the request of a criminal defense attorney, to instruct the jury that although the state may prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt the jury may still find the defendant not guilty in order to avoid an unjust result.

Petitions for post-conviction relief based on new non-scientific evidence. Allows petitions for relief on conviction based on new non-scientific evidence establishing innocence. Specifies that only one petition for post-conviction relief can be filed attacking a single judgment, unless another petition filed is based on new evidence of actual innocence and such evidence was not ascertainable by the petitioner through the exercise of due diligence at the time a previous petition was filed. Establishes that a petitioner may reopen post-conviction processing under limited circumstance.

Rebuttable presumption - person charged with a bailable offense. Creates a rebuttable presumption that a person charged with a bailable offense will not violate the conditions of his or her release if the offense is expungeable and the person has not been previously convicted of an offense that is ineligible for expunction.

Expunction of multiple convictions resulting from being a victim of human trafficking. Allows for a petitioner who has multiple, nonviolent convictions resulting from being a victim of human trafficking to be expunged by the court if deemed to be in the best interest of justice. If denied, there shall be no petition filed for at least two years.

Creates the district public defender appellate division. Creates the district public defender appellate division, establishes protocols for representation of indigent persons upon appeal from criminal or circuit courts, authorizes hiring for six appellate attorney positions.

Restores voting rights to persons convicted of infamous crimes upon pardon or completion of sentence. Restores the voting rights of persons convicted of certain infamous crimes upon receipt of a pardon or completion of any sentence of incarceration, parole, or probation.

Removes statute of limitations on Class A or B felony sexual offenses committed against children. Removes statute of limitations on Class A or B felony sexual offenses committed against children.

Class A misdemeanor to intentionally influence a witness in a case involving a domestic abuse victim. Declares that it is a class A misdemeanor for a person to intentionally influence a witness in a hearing of a case involving a domestic abuse victim to testify falsely, withhold any truthful testimony, and/or elude legal process summoning the witness to testify or supply evidence.

Expunction fees. Removes $180 fee for petitioning the court for expunctions of certain criminal offenses. Removes $350 fee applications for expunctions following the completion of a diversion program.

Civil or criminal immunity for person who uses force in self-defense. Confers criminal and civil immunity upon a person who uses or threatens to use force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense from a person committing a criminal offense, unless the person against whom the force is used is a law enforcement officer acting in the performance of the officer's official duties and has identified himself or herself as a law enforcement officer.