Tennessee Law Series: Various Laws

 In Criminal Law

Over the next few weeks, we are going to begin a series on Tennessee Law. Each state can put different laws into place and the federal laws that apply to all 50 states. This week we’re going to focus on child abuse, drug, and self-defense laws.

Child Abuse

Three different charges fall within the category of child abuse. They include child abuse, child neglect, and child endangerment. Each charge differs from the other and depends on the situation. All three are considered a serious crime and should be taken very seriously. Child abuse constitutes knowingly dangerously treating a child as to inflict injury. Child neglect includes deliberately abusing or neglecting a child in a way that negatively affects the child’s health and welfare. Lastly, child endangerment includes exposing or failing to protect a child who is eight years old or younger from abuse or neglect, resulting in physical injury. This only applies to parents or custodians of the child. As stated before, each situation directly impacts the charges and penalties given to those convicted of the crime. Other factors that constitute child abuse, neglect, or endangerment include:

  • serious bodily harm or injury to a child
  • use of a deadly weapon, dangerous instrumentality, or controlled substance to abuse, neglect, or endanger the child
  • abuse, neglect, or endangerment is especially cruel, heinous, or involved torture
  • abuse, negligence, or endangerment results from knowingly exposing the child to the manufacturing of methamphetamine

Convictions range from misdemeanors and felonies, again depending on the situation. The charge will automatically be considered a felony if the victim is:

  • eight years old or younger
  • mentally defective
  • mentally incapacitated
  • physically disabled

Everyone in the state of Tennessee is considered a mandated reporter. This allows you to report suspected child abuse to Child Services. Also, failure to report suspected child abuse or neglect qualifies as a Class A misdemeanor.

Drug Laws

In Tennessee, some of the most common charges involving drugs include simple possession, possession with intent to sell, sale of a controlled substance, drug trafficking, or drug manufacturing. The charges will differ based on the situation and circumstances. For example, many states have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, but Tennessee has not. As a result, you could face identical charges for marijuana as you would for heroin. A first-time drug possession charge typically results in a misdemeanor regardless of the drug involved. However, if you have more than half an ounce and it’s your second charge, it could qualify as a felony. Possible penalties for drug possession include:

  • Forfeiture of property
  • Suspension of license
  • Jail or prison time
  • Fines
  • Probation
  • Community service


Tennessee follows the Stand Your Ground laws regarding self-defense. As a result, the state does not require victims to retreat from a situation before using force in self-defense. For example, someone breaks into your home, and instead of fleeing or leaving, you shoot the burglar, and they die. You would not be charged with murder. On the contrary, you must be aware of when deadly force is justified and when it’s not. Justifiable deadly force includes:

  • The reasonable belief there’s imminent danger of severe bodily injury or death
  • The danger is real or honestly believed to be real at the time
  • The belief of danger is founded upon reasonable grounds

To learn more about Tennessee laws, please contact Slaughter Law Firm. In addition, if you find yourself convicted or a victim of a crime, our attorney Frankie Slaughter Jr. can help. With over 22 years of experience, Mr. Slaughter has been assisting in cases varying in degree or area of law. To schedule an appointment, you can visit us online or call us at  (423) 844-0560 today!