Tennessee Code Annotated

Title 39: Criminal Offenses

Chapter 17: Offenses Against Public Health, Safety and Welfare

Part 3: Disorderly Conduct and Riots

TCA 39-17-309: Civil rights intimidation.

(a)  The general assembly finds and declares that it is the right of every person regardless of race, color, ancestry, religion or national origin, to be secure and protected from fear, intimidation, harassment and bodily injury caused by the activities of groups and individuals. It is not the intent of this section to interfere with the exercise of rights protected by the constitution of the United States. The general assembly recognizes the constitutional right of every citizen to harbor and express beliefs on any subject whatsoever and to associate with others who share similar beliefs. The general assembly further finds that the advocacy of unlawful acts by groups or individuals against other persons or groups for the purpose of inciting and provoking damage to property and bodily injury or death to persons is not constitutionally protected, poses a threat to public order and safety, and should be subject to criminal sanctions.

(b)  A person commits the offense of intimidating others from exercising civil rights who:

     (1)  Injures or threatens to injure or coerces another person with the intent to unlawfully intimidate another from the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured by the constitution or laws of the state of Tennessee;

     (2)  Injures or threatens to injure or coerces another person with the intent to unlawfully intimidate another because that other exercised any right or privilege secured by the constitution or laws of the United States or the constitution or laws of the state of Tennessee;

     (3)  Damages, destroys or defaces any real or personal property of another person with the intent to unlawfully intimidate another from the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured by the constitution or laws of the state of Tennessee; or

     (4)   Damages, destroys or defaces any real or personal property of another person with the intent to unlawfully intimidate another because that other exercised any right or privilege secured by the constitution or laws of the United States or the constitution or laws of the state of Tennessee.

(c)  It is an offense for a person to wear a mask or disguise with the intent to violate subsection (b).

(d)  A violation of subsection (b) is a Class D felony. A violation of subsection (c) is a Class A misdemeanor.

(e)  The penalties provided in this section for intimidating others from exercising civil rights do not preclude victims from seeking any other remedies, criminal or civil, otherwise available under law.

History: [Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 1; 1990, ch. 984, § 1.]