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More State Legislative News

State Sen. Joey Hensley MD, R-Hohnwald, repesents Giles, Lewis, and parts of mashall, Maury and Williamson counties in the 28th District of the State Legislature

These judicial and law enforcement related measures passed in the 113th General Assembly.

Felony Offense For Repeat Misdemeanors / Senate Bill 2155

  • We passed legislation that creates a Class E felony offense for certain repeat misdemeanor offenses.

  • There are 37 qualifying misdemeanor offenses.

  • After 5 or more convictions of qualifying misdemeanors in the past 10 years, the criminal would be subject to a class E felony charge at the discretion of a judge.

  • A Class E felony is punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $3,000.

  • After 3 or more convictions of certain repeat violent offenses (domestic assault and child neglect), the third or subsequent conviction could be raised from a class D misdemeanor to a class E felony.

  • This law addresses the issue of persistent crime and highlights our desire to tackle criminals avoiding significant consequences for repeat misdemeanors.

Misdemeanor Sentencing / Senate Bill 1859

  • As part of a large effort to crack down on crime and discourage repeat misdemeanor offenses, legislation passed that extends the percentage of a misdemeanor sentence that a court may require a defendant to serve from 70% to 100%.

  • This law allows judges to make the best decision for the defendant and their communities.

  • Under previous law, the maximum percentage of a misdemeanor sentence a defendant could serve was 75 percent.

  • This has caused issues as these criminals often become repeat offenders due to a lack of full sentencing being served.

Holding Parents Accountable For Child’s Delinquent Actions / Senate Bill 2571

  • The Parent Accountability Act passed to give judges the discretion to fine parents or guardians instead of the child for delinquent actions after their first offense.

  • If the parent is unable to pay the fine, community service is an alternative option.

  • This bill is designed to incentivize parents to pay closer attention to their children.

Communication Between Juvenile Courts and Department of Childrens Services/ Senate Bill 447

  • Legislation passed to improve communication and coordination between the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) and the juvenile justice system by requiring DCS to notify the juvenile judge when a child in DCS custody is scheduled to be discharged.

  • This law also sets a procedure for the judge to object to the child being discharged from DCS custody.


Stronger Penalties For Cyberattacks / Senate Bill 2040

  • This year we passed legislation to continue efforts to fight cybercrime and protect Tennessean’s online data.

  • The measure updates Tennessee’s law to include cyberattacks in critical infrastructure vandalism crimes, making it a Class C felony.


Prohibiting Tax-Funded Ransomware Payments / Senate Bill 1825

  • Cybercriminals have increasingly targeted federal and state government agencies, disrupting critical systems and compromising citizens' private data.

  • This year, a bill passed that prevents using taxpayer funds for ransom payments to cybercriminals to discourage cybercriminals from targeting Tennessee.

  • This legislation forbids state entities from engaging in contracts, negotiations, or payments with known system hackers.

  • It also mandates state entities to notify the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in the event of a cyber-attack.

Transparency In Sentencing For Victims Act

  • This law requires all Tennessee courts to place on the record the estimated number of years and months to be served before a criminal is eligible for parole, the reason for the sentence and enhancements. (Public Chapter 952, 2022)

  • This helps victims and their families be better informed about how much time an offender will serve.

Increasing Accountability For Setting Bond Amounts

  • This law increases judicial accountability and transparency when setting bond amounts for the most serious criminal cases. (Public Chapter 362, 2023)

  • Only elected judges - criminal, circuit court or general sessions judges - are allowed to set bond in the following

  • Cases involving Class A or Class B felonies

  • Aggravated assault

  • Aggravated assault against a first responder

  • Felony domestic assault

  • It also requires anyone out on bail and arrested for another crime to have their new bond set in an amount twice the customary amount.

Protecting Property Owners From Squatters / Senate Bill 795

  • Legislation passed to protect Tennessee homeowners from squatters through an established and expedited removal process.

  • Squatting is the illegal practice of occupying a property without the owner’s lawful permission. 

  • Although squatters have no rights in Tennessee, under previous law a property owner had to initiate a judicial eviction of the squatters.

  • This legislation removes much of the burden from legitimate property owners by establishing a clear process for law enforcement to restore possession, which can expedite the removal of illegal occupants in as little as 72 hours. 

  • The legislation also clarifies that the sheriff may arrest trespassers.

  • It can take up to two years to remove an illegal squatter and can cost a property owner thousands of dollars in legal fees.

  • It can take up to two years to remove an illegal squatter and can cost a property owner thousands of dollars in legal fees, lost revenue, and property repairs.

  • Sen. Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville TN., 37243 or call 615-741-3100 or call toll free 1 -800-449-8366 extension 13100, or fax 615-253-0231. His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN., 38462, or call 931-796-2018, or his cell phone at 931-212-8823 or e-mail: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov

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