Laws

When it comes to human trafficking, Tennessee has some of the toughest laws in the nation.

Since 2011, our state has taken a stand: We will support victims, hold buyers accountable, and become a national model for addressing this epidemic in our generation.

Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act

TCA 39-13-109 is the foundational law addressing trafficking in Tennessee. It defines the crime as prohibiting someone from forcing, tricking, or coercing someone to participate in a commercial sex act. It also holds the buyer responsible for contributing to this kind of crime.

In Tennessee, sex trafficking occurs when a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion if the victim is 18 years of age or older. Any minor who performs a commercial sex act is also defined, by Tennessee law, as a victim of sex trafficking, regardless of the use of force, fraud, or coercion.

Other Recent Tennessee Law Enhancements

PC 613: Makes the records of human trafficking service providers confidential unless the person to whom the records pertain consents to release of the records or a court orders release of the records.
PC 764: Imposes a two-dollar privilege tax for each customer entry to an adult performance business. The business is required to keep a daily record of customer entries that is to be made available to the department of revenue. Revenue collected thought this privilege tax will allocated to the general fund with the intent an amount equal to the revenue collected be allocated to programs for victims of sex trafficking.
PC 1018: Allows a court to expunge the records of a juvenile adjudicated delinquent or unruly for conduct that wound constitute the offense of prostitution or aggravated prostitution if the conduct upon which the adjudication is based is found to have occurred as a result of the person being a victim of human trafficking.
PC 1019: Specifies that the offense of promotion of prostitution is punishable as a Class D felony if the victim has an intellectual disability.

PC 432: Instructs a court to calculate the gross income or value to the defendant of an involuntary labor victim’s labor or services using the reasonable market value of the labor or services provided by the victim.
PC 292: Changes the definitions of child sexual abuse and severe child abuse to include the commission of Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act.
PC 169: Increases classification of offense of patronizing prostitution from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor.

  • PC 634: Eliminates the defenses, for those charged with Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, that the intended victim is a law enforcement officer or that the victim is a consenting minor.
  • PC 979: Clarifies the offense of Promoting Prostitution only applies to a person who promotes or procures another person for the purpose of prostitution. Adds additional administrators and officers of the juvenile court system to those for whom TBI must develop specialized training. Adds a definition of ‘caregiver’ in relevant DCS codes to include those who may also be a trafficker, so necessary services can be provided for victims in that situation.
  • PC 435: Adds certain offenses to the list of crimes eligible for the interception of communications for evidence.
  • PC 67: Requires a law enforcement officer to provide a minor suspected of prostitution with the telephone number of the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline instead of the number to the national hotline.
  • PC503: Authorizes the TBI to employ, effective July 1, 2015, four additional Special Agents for the purpose of training other officers, investigating and assisting in the prosecution of human trafficking cases; directs TBI to develop and provide a course of instruction to other officers and departments in the recognition, detection, and prosecution of human trafficking cases. Grants original jurisdiction over human trafficking to the TBI.
  • PC 237: Specifies that it is grounds for the termination of parental rights that the parent or guardian is convicted on or after July 1, 2015, of the offense of sex trafficking of children under federal law, or under the law of another state.
  • PC 510: Changes the Human Trafficking Task Force to an advisory council and moves it under TBI.
  • PC 253: Provides that a victim of a sexually oriented crime is entitled to a forensic medical examination without charge to the victim; establishes requirements for collection of evidence, testing, and handling of such evidence; requires the domestic violence state coordinating council to create a model policy for law enforcement agencies responding to reports of sexually oriented crimes and requires all law enforcement agencies that are likely to encounter reports of sexually oriented crimes to establish written policies and procedures on responding to reports of reports of that nature.
  • PC 469: Aggravated Prostitution sex offenders can petition the court to be removed from SOR if he/she can prove they were a victim of human trafficking or domestic abuse.
  • PC 264: Law enforcement may transfer a minor victim of prostitution to a shelter care facility.
  • PC 310: Increases the statute of limitations for promoting prostitution from 10 years after the victim turns 18 to 25 years.
  • PC 588: Requires TBI to update the missing children web page to reflect that a child has been recovered.
  • PC 711:  Adds the offense of promoting prostitution or the knowing failure to protect a child from the commission of prostitution to the list of offenses constituting severe child abuse.
  • PC 646: For the offense of promotion of prostitution the defendant cannot claim that the subject of the offense is a law enforcement officer or the victim is a consenting minor as a defense.
  • PC 957: Makes prostitution punishable as trafficking. Increases penalty for patronizing a prostitute who is under 18 from a Class E felony to a Class A felony. Increases penalty for patronizing a prostitute with an intellectual disability from a Class E felony to a Class B felony. Prohibits certain defenses to prostitution.
  • PC 722: Requires patronizing prostitution (when the victim is a minor) to register as a sexual offender.
  • PC 436: Expands the offense of solicitation of a minor to include trafficking or commercial sex acts, patronizing prostitution, promoting prostitution, aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor.
  • PC 251: Allows victims of trafficking for commercial acts and patronizing prostitution who are under 13 years of age to testify outside the courtroom by closed circuit television in certain circumstances.
  • PC 416: The statute of limitations for prosecuting a person for trafficking a person for a commercial sex act.
  • PC 415: Rewrites the bill to add to the definition of criminal gang offenses as amended by SB202/HB196 the commission or attempted commission, facilitation of, solicitation of, conspiracy to commit the offense of trafficking for commercial sex acts.
  • PC350:  Disallows the minor’s consent to the offense as a defense in sexual exploitation of a minor by electronic means, sexual exploitation of a minor, aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor.
  • PC 337: Removes the defense that the person was ignorant or mistaken as to the age of the minor in prosecutions for prostitution involving a minor and sexual solicitation of a minor.  Creates an exception to the application of the subsection that defines the offense of soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor and exploitation of a minor by electronic means by a person over the age of 18 when the victim is at least 15 but less than 18 and the defendant is no more than 4 years older than the victim. This exception doesn’t apply if the defendant intentionally commanded, hired, induced or caused the victim to violate this subsection.
  • PC 485: Increases the offense of promoting prostitution of a minor from a Class E felony to a Class B felony or a Class A felony if the victim of the offense is less than 15 years of age.
  • PC 465: Revises the prohibition and penalty provisions of this bill to make is a Class D felony offense for any person to promote travel for prostitution by selling or offering to sell travel services that the prostitution if occurring in this state.
  • PC 242: Requires defendant to pay restitution to the victim for the offenses of patronizing prostitution, trafficking for commercial sex acts, solicitation of a minor for sexual purposes, and enlisting or paying a minor to engage in child pornography.
  • PC 278: Expands the definition of “racketeering activity” as organized crime to include trafficking for commercial sex acts, promoting or patronizing prostitution, soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor, and exploitation of a minor by electronic means.  Expands the meaning of “unlawful debt” as organized crime to include debt incurred from trafficking for commercial sex acts, promoting or patronizing prostitution, solicitation of a minor, or exploitation of a minor by electronic means.
  • PC 464: Created the Human Trafficking Task Force.
  • PC 1074: Enhances the penalties for the offense of Involuntary Labor of Minors.
  • PC 613: Establishes that victims of human trafficking have a civil right of action.
  • PC 963: Develops a plan to assist victims of human trafficking.
  • PC 1075: Creates the offense of Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act.
  • PC 891: Gives victims of human trafficking a defense in prostitution cases.
  • PC 753: Adds promoting prostitution as an offense requiring registration on the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry.
  • PC 377: Individuals arrested for prostitution are immune from prosecution if they are under 18. A person who patronizes prostitution from someone who is under 18 or has an intellectual disability commits a Class E felony.
  • PC 354: Allows seizure of real and personal property in human trafficking offenses. Sets out disposition of proceeds.
  • PC 435: Creates the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline to be administered by TBI.