Each year, the Tennessee government implements new laws to govern and protect the citizens of the state. These laws cover a wide variety of situations, including child custody, the state’s economy, education, and criminal justice reform. There are also many changes to criminal law in 2021, which we’ll review below.

Human Trafficking and Assault Law Changes

The Tennessee legislature passed numerous laws aiming to curb human trafficking in the state, while allowing fuller prosecution and punishment for the criminals accused of it. In addition, these new laws also address a need to increase the protections for victims. Here’s the list with links for more information:

Other 2021 Tennessee laws increase punishment for those committing sexual or physical assault, as well as laws to protect their victims. These laws work with the trafficking laws listed above or can be applied alone. 

Other Criminal Law Updates

Other laws added in Tennessee that apply to less-violent or non-violent offenses include:

  • Animal Cruelty – The new law removes some of the barriers usually encountered when trying to prosecute this crime. Senate Bill 166 
  • Cracking down on “Porch Pirates” – This legislation requires a second or subsequent offense must be charged at least as a Class E felony. Senate Bill 1121 
  • Catalytic Converter Theft — This law applies to those buying unattached catalytic converters, as well as those selling them. Senate Bill 1612 
  • Drag racing — This new legislature is meant to discourage drag racing by bumping it to a Class A Misdemeanor. Senate Bill 14
  • Enhanced penalties for aggravated riots – Applying to those paid to participate or who travel from out of state, this is a new penalty for rioting that causes serious bodily injury or substantial property damage. Senate Bill 451
  • Crime / Good Samaritan – Penalties increased to murder will be leveled against those killing a person acting as a “good Samaritan”. Senate Bill 226
  • Firing a Firearm from a Vehicle – Due to a rise in shootings from automobiles on public roads, the Tennessee legislature decided to act. They passed a new law that increased the charge to a Class C felony, as an act of reckless endangerment. Senate Bill 1373 


If you find yourself in need of a defense lawyer in Knoxville for any of the above offenses or any other criminal charge, call the experienced defense attorneys at McKeehan Law Group at (865)294-8008 or reach out online.