Welcome to the Stalking Resource Center

The mission of the Stalking Resource Center is to enhance the ability of professionals, organizations, and systems to effectively respond to stalking.

Tennessee

This page lists the most applicable state crimes addressing stalking. However, depending on the facts of the case, a stalker might also be charged with other crimes, such as trespassing, intimidation of a witness, breaking and entering, etc. Check your state code or consult with your local prosecutor about other charges that might apply in a particular case.

Stalking

Harassment

Related Offenses

Also See: Tennessee Civil Stalking Law


Analyzing Stalking Laws



Stalking

Tenn.Code Ann. § 39-17-315. Stalking,aggravated stalking, and especially aggravated stalking. (2012)
(a) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) "Course of conduct" means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of two (2) or more separate noncontinuous acts evidencing a continuity of purpose;

(2) "Emotional distress" means significant mental suffering or distress that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling;

(3) "Harassment" means conduct directed toward a victim that includes, but is not limited to, repeated or continuing unconsented contact that would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress, and that actually causes the victim to suffer emotional distress. Harassment does not include constitutionally protected activity or conduct that serves a legitimate purpose;

(4) "Stalking" means a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested, and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested;

(5) "Unconsented contact" means any contact with another person that is initiated or continued without that person's consent, or in disregard of that person's expressed desire that the contact be avoided or discontinued. Unconsented contact includes, but is not limited to, any of the following:

(A) Following or appearing within the sight of that person;

(B) Approaching or confronting that person in a public place or on private property;

(C) Appearing at that person's workplace or residence;

(D) Entering onto or remaining on property owned, leased, or occupied by that person;

(E) Contacting that person by telephone;

(F) Sending mail or electronic communications to that person; or

(G) Placing an object on, or delivering an object to, property owned, leased, or occupied by that person; and

(6) "Victim" means an individual who is the target of a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment.

(b)

(1) A person commits an offense who intentionally engages in stalking.

(2) Stalking is a Class A misdemeanor.

(3) Stalking is a Class E felony if the defendant, at the time of the offense, was required to or was registered with the Tennessee bureau of investigation as a sexual offender, violent sexual offender or violent juvenile sexual offender, as defined in § 40-39-202.

(c)

(1) A person commits aggravated stalking who commits the offense of stalking as prohibited by subsection (b), and:

(A) In the course and furtherance of stalking, displays a deadly weapon;

(B) The victim of the offense was less than eighteen (18) years of age at any time during the person's course of conduct, and the person is five (5) or more years older than the victim;

(C) Has previously been convicted of stalking within seven (7) years of the instant offense;

(D) Makes a credible threat to the victim, the victim's child, sibling, spouse, parent or dependents with the intent to place any such person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury; or

(E) At the time of the offense, was prohibited from making contact with the victim under a restraining order or injunction for protection, an order of protection, or any other court-imposed prohibition of conduct toward the victim or the victim's property, and the person knowingly violates the injunction, order or court-imposed prohibition.

(2) Aggravated stalking is a Class E felony.

(d)

(1) A person commits especially aggravated stalking who:

(A) Commits the offense of stalking or aggravated stalking, and has previously been convicted of stalking or aggravated stalking involving the same victim of the instant offense; or

(B) Commits the offense of aggravated stalking, and intentionally or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to the victim of the offense or to the victim's child, sibling, spouse, parent, or dependent.

(2) Especially aggravated stalking is a Class C felony.

(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if the court grants probation to a person convicted of stalking, aggravated stalking or especially aggravated stalking, the court may keep the person on probation for a period not to exceed the maximum punishment for the appropriate classification of offense. Regardless of whether a term of probation is ordered, the court may, in addition to any other punishment otherwise authorized by law, order the defendant to do the following:

(1) Refrain from stalking any individual during the term of probation;

(2) Refrain from having any contact with the victim of the offense or the victim's child, sibling, spouse, parent, or dependent;

(3) Be evaluated to determine the need for psychiatric, psychological, or social counseling, and, if determined appropriate by the court, to receive psychiatric, psychological or social counseling at the defendant's own expense;

(4) If, as the result of such treatment or otherwise, the defendant is required to take medication, order that the defendant submit to drug testing or some other method by which the court can monitor whether the defendant is taking the required medication; and

(5) Submit to the use of an electronic tracking device, with the cost of the device and monitoring the defendant's whereabouts, to be paid by the defendant.

(f) In a prosecution for a violation of this section, evidence that the defendant continued to engage in a course of conduct involving repeated unconsented contact with the victim after having been requested by the victim to discontinue the conduct or a different form of unconsented contact, and to refrain from any further unconsented contact with the victim, is prima facie evidence that the continuation of the course of conduct caused the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.

(g)

(1) If a person is convicted of aggravated or especially aggravated stalking, or another felony offense arising out of a charge based on this section, the court may order an independent professional mental health assessment of the defendant's need for mental health treatment. The court may waive the assessment, if an adequate assessment was conducted prior to the conviction.

(2) If the assessment indicates that the defendant is in need of and amenable to mental health treatment, the court may include in the sentence a requirement that the offender undergo treatment, and that the drug intake of the defendant be monitored in the manner best suited to the particular situation. Monitoring may include periodic determinations as to whether the defendant is ingesting any illegal controlled substances or controlled substance analogues, as well as determinations as to whether the defendant is complying with any required or recommended course of treatment that includes the taking of medications.

(3) The court shall order the offender to pay the costs of assessment under this subsection (g), unless the offender is indigent under § 40-14-202.

(h) Any person who reasonably believes they are a victim of an offense under this section, regardless of whether the alleged perpetrator has been arrested, charged or convicted of a stalking-related offense, shall be entitled to seek and obtain an order of protection in the same manner, and under the same circumstances, as is provided for victims of domestic abuse by the provisions of title 36, chapter 3, part 6.

(i) When a person is charged and arrested for the offense of stalking, aggravated stalking or especially aggravated stalking, the arresting law enforcement officer shall inform the victim that the person arrested may be eligible to post bail for the offense and to be released until the date of trial for the offense.

(j) If a law enforcement officer or district attorney general believes that the life of a possible victim of stalking is in immediate danger, unless and until sufficient evidence can be processed linking a particular person to the offense, the district attorney general may petition the judge of a court of record having criminal jurisdiction in that district to enter an order expediting the processing of any evidence in a particular stalking case. If, after hearing the petition, the court is of the opinion that the life of the victim may be in immediate danger if the alleged perpetrator is not apprehended, the court may enter such an order, directed to the Tennessee bureau of investigation, or any other agency or laboratory that may be in the process of analyzing evidence for that particular investigation.

(k)

(1) For purposes of determining if a course of conduct amounting to stalking is a single offense or multiple offenses, the occurrence of any of the following events breaks the continuous course of conduct, with respect to the same victim, that constitutes the offense:

(A) The defendant is arrested and charged with stalking, aggravated stalking or especially aggravated stalking;

(B) The defendant is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to have violated an order of protection issued to prohibit the defendant from engaging in the conduct of stalking; or

(C) The defendant is convicted of the offense of stalking, aggravated stalking or especially aggravated stalking.

(2) If a continuing course of conduct amounting to stalking engaged in by a defendant against the same victim is broken by any of the events set out in subdivision (k)(1), any such conduct that occurs after that event commences a new and separate offense.


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Harassment

Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-308. Harassment. (2012)

(a) A person commits an offense who intentionally:

(1) Threatens, by telephone, in writing or by electronic communication, including, but not limited to, text messaging, facsimile transmissions, electronic mail or Internet services, to take action known to be unlawful against any person and by this action knowingly annoys or alarms the recipient;

(2) Places one (1) or more telephone calls anonymously, or at an hour or hours known to be inconvenient to the victim, or in an offensively repetitious manner, or without a legitimate purpose of communication, and by this action knowingly annoys or alarms the recipient;

(3) Communicates by telephone to another that a relative or other person has been injured, killed or is ill when the communication is known to be false; or

(4) Communicates with another person or transmits or displays an image without legitimate purpose with the intent that the image is viewed by the victim by any method described in subdivision (a)(1) and the person:

(A) Maliciously intends the communication to be a threat of harm to the victim; and

(B) A reasonable person would perceive the communication to be a threat of harm.

(b) 

(1) A person convicted of a criminal offense commits an offense if, while incarcerated, on pre-trial diversion, probation, community correction or parole, the person intentionally communicates in person with the victim of the person's crime if the communication is:

(A) Anonymous or threatening or made in an offensively repetitious manner or at hours known to be inconvenient to the victim;

(B) Made for no legitimate purpose; and

(C) Made knowing that it will alarm or annoy the victim.

(2) If the victim of the person's offense died as the result of the offense, the provisions of this subsection (b) shall apply to the deceased victim's next-of-kin.

(c) Except as provided in subsection (d), a violation of subsection (a) is a Class A misdemeanor. A violation of subsection (b) is a Class E felony.

(d) 

(1) A violation by a minor of subdivision (a)(4) is a delinquent act and shall be punishable only by up to thirty (30) hours of community service, without compensation, for charitable or governmental agencies as determined by the court.

(2) The offense described in subdivision (a)(4) shall not apply to an entity providing an electronic communications service to the public acting in the normal course of providing that service.

(3) 

(A) The service providers described in subdivision (d)(2) shall not be required to maintain any record not otherwise kept in the ordinary course of that service provider's business; provided, however, that if any electronic communications service provider operates a web site that offers a social network service and the electronic communications service provider provides services to consumers in this state, any log files and images or communications that have been sent, posted or displayed on the social network service's web site and maintained by the electronic communications service provider shall be disclosed to any governmental entity responsible for enforcing subdivision (a)(4) only if the governmental entity:

(i) Obtains a warrant issued using this state's warrant procedures by a court of competent jurisdiction;

(ii) Obtains a court order for the disclosure under subdivision (d)(3)(C); or

(iii) Has the consent of the person who sent, posted or displayed any log files and images or communications on the social network service's web site maintained by the electronic communications service provider.

(B) No cause of action shall lie in any court against any provider of an electronic communications service, its officers, employees, agents, or other specified persons for providing information, facilities, or assistance in accordance with the terms of a court order or warrant.

(C) A court order for disclosure under subdivision (d)(3)(A)(ii) may be issued by any court that is a court of competent jurisdiction and shall issue only if the governmental entity offers specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the contents of an electronic communication, or the records or other information sought, are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation. A court order shall not issue if prohibited by the law of this state. A court issuing an order pursuant to this section, on a motion made promptly by the service provider, may quash or modify the order, if the information or records requested are unusually voluminous in nature or compliance with the order otherwise would cause an undue burden on the provider.

(e) As used in this section:

(1) "Electronic communications service" means any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic or photooptical system;

(2) "Image" includes, but is not limited to, a visual depiction, video clip or photograph of another person;

(3) "Log files" mean computer-generated lists that contain various types of information regarding the activities of a computer, including, but not limited to, time of access to certain records, processes running on a computer or the usage of certain computer resources; and

(4) "Social network" means any online community of people who share interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others, and which provides ways for users to interact.

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Related Offenses

Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-604. Interception of cellular or cordless telephone transmissions. (1994)
(a)  As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1)  "Cellular radio telephone" means a wireless telephone authorized by the federal communications commission to operate in the frequency bandwidth reserved for cellular radio telephones;

(2)  "Communication" includes, but is not limited to, communications transmitted by voice, data, or image, including facsimile;

(3)  "Cordless telephone" means a two-way, low power communication system consisting of two (2) parts, a "base" unit that connects to the public switched telephone network and a handset or "remote" unit, that are connected by a radio link and authorized by the federal communications commission to operate in the frequency bandwidths reserved for cordless telephones;

(4)  "Disseminating," as used in this section and § 39-13-605, means the playing or duplicating of the recording in a manner other than authorized in this part; and

(5)  "Party" means only those individuals who participate in a conversation and whose presence as participants is known to all other participants. 

(b)   
(1)  A person commits an offense who, without the consent of at least one (1) party to a communication, intentionally records or disseminates a communication transmitted between two (2) cellular radio telephones, a cellular radio telephone and a landline telephone, or a cordless telephone and a cellular radio telephone.

(2)  A person commits an offense who intentionally disseminates a communication transmitted between two (2) cordless telephones or a cordless telephone and a landline telephone, if such dissemination is not authorized by a court order. 

(c)   
(1)  A violation of subsection (b) is a Class A misdemeanor.

(2)  A violation of subsection (b) is a Class E felony, if the defendant knowingly publishes, distributes or otherwise disseminates to another the intercepted or recorded communication.

(d)  This section does not apply to the following:

(1)  Any public utility or wireless communications provider engaged in the business of providing communications services and facilities, or to the officers, employees, or agents thereof, where the acts otherwise prohibited are for the purpose of construction, maintenance, conduct, technological research, or operation of the services and facilities of the public utility;

(2)  The use of any instrument, equipment, facility, or service furnished and used pursuant to the tariffs of the public utility; and

(3)  Any telephonic communication system used for communication exclusively within a state, county or municipal correctional facility.

(e)  The judge of a court of record having domestic relations jurisdiction may authorize any individual to intercept, record, disseminate and use communications that would otherwise be prohibited by this section and § 39-13-605, upon an ex parte showing by the investigator that there is probable cause to believe that the health, safety and welfare of a minor are in jeopardy.

(f)
(1)  A law enforcement officer or other person with judicial purview, while in the course of the person's employment, may record a protected communication, where preservation and retention of the recorded communication are pertinent to a criminal investigation; provided, that the officer follows the procedure set out in this subsection (f).

(2)  When an officer or other authorized person records a protected communication, the officer or other authorized person shall label each recording with the following information:
(A) The name of the officer or other authorized person making the recording; and

(B) The date and time the recording is made.

(3)  Within forty-eight (48) hours of a law enforcement officer or other authorized person recording a protected communication, the officer or other authorized person shall apply to a judge authorized to issue a search warrant for an order authorizing continued recording and preservation and retention of the recordings already made. No dissemination or duplication of the recording shall be made prior to the receipt of a court order.

(4)  The officer or other authorized person shall certify to the judge in a written application under oath that the recording is pertinent to a criminal investigation, the nature of the offense under investigation, and the address, if known, of the location of the cordless or cellular telephone communication intercepted.

(5)  If the judge finds that the information contained in the officer's or other authorized person's written application complies with the provisions of subdivision (f)(4), the judge shall issue a court order authorizing the preservation, retention or continued recording of protected communications. The order shall include the date and time of the recording, the nature of the crime under investigation, and the address, if known, of the location of the cordless or cellular telephone intercepted. An application and order under this section shall be sealed, unless otherwise ordered by the court. Custody of the sealed application and order shall be wherever the judge directs.


(6)  If no application for an order is made authorizing the preservation and retention of recorded protected communications within the forty-eight hour period, or if the officer or other authorized person does not comply with the provisions of subdivision (f)(4), the recording shall be destroyed.

(7)  No recording of a protected communication, or any information contained in the recording, may be used as evidence, unless the recording was obtained in accordance with the provisions of this section; provided, that nothing in this section shall be construed to preclude the introduction of evidence derived independently from sources other than the recording.

(g)  A judge vested with the authority to issue an order permitting recordation of cellular or cordless telephone conversations as provided in this section may permit other individuals to record and disseminate recordings of such protected communications upon a sworn petition by a licensed cordless or cellular telephone agency or other private individual showing probable cause that a felony has been or is about to be committed. The court issuing the order shall determine in the order the length of time that recording shall be permitted and shall likewise order the final disposition of all recordings taken pursuant to this section.

Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-605. Unlawful photographing in violation of privacy. (2010)
(a)  It is an offense for a person to knowingly photograph, or cause to be photographed an individual, when the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy, without the prior effective consent of the individual, or in the case of a minor, without the prior effective consent of the minor's parent or guardian, if the photograph:

(1)  Would offend or embarrass an ordinary person if such person appeared in the photograph; and

(2)  Was taken for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification of the defendant.

(b)  As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires, "photograph" means any photograph or photographic reproduction, still or moving, or any videotape or live television transmission of any individual.
 

(c) All photographs taken in violation of this section shall be confiscated and, after their use as evidence, destroyed.


(d)    

(1)  A violation of this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

(2)  If the defendant disseminates or permits the dissemination of the photograph to any other person, a violation of this section is a Class E felony.

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