Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New Laws Broaden Scope of Sex Offender Registry

The Tennessee General Assembly passed four new laws that broaden the scope of the sex offender registry.  A brief explanation of each new law follows: 

House Bill 2853

The main difference between registering as a standard sex offender and registering as a violent sex offender is that a standard sex offender may petition to be removed from the registry ten (10) years after completion of probation, parole, or incarceration.  The violent sex offender registry, on the other hand, is for life. 

After passage of House Bill 2853, a person convicted of first-offense promotion of prostitution must register as a standard sex offender.  It’s only upon conviction of a subsequent offense that he or she must register as a violent sex offender.

House Bill 2939

After the passage of House Bill 2939, a person convicted of trafficking a person for a commercial sex act must register as a sex offender. 

This requirement is only a small part of this new law, however.  The main purpose of House Bill 2939 is to revise the definition of “trafficking a person for a commercial sex act.”  Specifically, a sex act can now be commercial if secured by causing or threatening physical harm, restraint, abuse of law or legal process, destruction of a passport or immigration/government document, blackmail, or facilitating access to a controlled substance.  

House Bill 3283

Previously, a judge could only require a person convicted of statutory rape to register as a sex offender if that person had a prior conviction for mitigated statutory rape, statutory rape, or aggravated statutory rape. 

After the passage of House Bill 3283, a judge may require a person convicted of statutory rape for the first time to register as a sex offender.  In determining whether to impose this requirement, the trial court must consider the totality of the facts and circumstances surrounding the offense, including the offense for which the person was actually charged and whether the conviction is the result of a plea agreement.

House Bill 3398

House Bill 3398 applies to registered sex offenders whose victims were minors and who are later convicted of violating the residential and work restrictions in the TN Sexual Offender and Violent Sexual Offender Registration, Verification and Tracking Act of 2004. 

Under this new law, which amends section 39-13-530(a), any conveyance or personal property (not real property) is subject to judicial forfeiture if used during the commission of such a violation.  The proceeds of the judicial forfeiture will be allotted to the child abuse fund.  Under current law, 50% of that money funds child advocacy centers, 25% funds court appointed special advocates, and 25% funds child abuse prevention.

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