Legal Information: Tennessee

Statutes: Tennessee

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Updated: 
May 9, 2019

39-13-518. Continuous sexual abuse of a child

(a) As used in this section:

(1) “Multiple acts of sexual abuse of a child” means:

(A)(i) Engaging in three (3) or more incidents of sexual abuse of a child involving the same minor child on separate occasions; provided, that at least one (1) such incident occurred within the county in which the charge is filed and that one (1) such incident occurred on or after July 1, 2014;

(ii) Engaging in at least one (1) incident of sexual abuse of a child upon three (3) or more different minor children on separate occasions; provided, that at least one (1) such incident occurred within the county in which the charge is filed and that one (1) such incident occurred on or after July 1, 2014; or

(iii) Engaging in five (5) or more incidents of sexual abuse of a child involving two (2) or more different minor children on separate occasions; provided, that at least one (1) such incident occurred within the county in which the charge is filed and that one (1) such incident occurred on or after July 1, 2014; and

(B) The victims of the incidents of sexual abuse of a child share distinctive, common characteristics, qualities or circumstances with respect to each other or to the person committing the offenses, or there are common methods or characteristics in the commission of the offense, allowing otherwise individual offenses to merge into a single continuing offense involving a pattern of criminal activity against similar victims. Common characteristics, qualities or circumstances for purposes of this subdivision (a)(1)(B) include, but are not limited to:

(i) The victims are related to the defendant by blood or marriage;

(ii) The victims reside with the defendant; or

(iii) The defendant was an authority figure, as defined in § 39-13-527(a)(3), to the victims and the victims knew each other; and

(2) “Sexual abuse of a child” means to commit an act upon a minor child that is a violation of:

(A) § 39-13-502, if the child is more than thirteen (13) but less than eighteen (18) years of age;

(B) § 39-13-503, if the child is more than thirteen (13) but less than eighteen (18) years of age;

(C) § 39-13-504;

(D) § 39-13-522;

(E) § 39-13-527;

(F) § 39-13-529(a);

(G) § 39-13-531; or

(H) § 39-13-532.

(b) A person commits continuous sexual abuse of a child who:

(1) Over a period of ninety (90) days or more, engages in multiple acts of sexual abuse of a child as defined in subdivision (a)(1)(A)(i) or (a)(1)(A)(ii); or

(2) Over a period of less than ninety (90) days, engages in multiple acts of sexual abuse of a child as defined in subdivision (a)(1)(A)(iii).

(c)(1) A violation of subsection (b) is a Class A felony if at least three (3) of the acts of sexual abuse of a child constitute violations of any of the following:

(A) § 39-13-502, if the child is more than thirteen (13) but less than eighteen (18) years of age;

(B) § 39-13-503, if the child is more than thirteen (13) but less than eighteen (18) years of age;

(C) § 39-13-504;

(D) § 39-13-522;

(E) § 39-13-529(a); or

(F) § 39-13-531.

(2) If one (1) of the three (3) or more violations under subdivision (c)(1) would be punished as a Class B felony if it were a single conviction, then the punishment for a violation of subsection (b) shall be a Class B felony.

(3) A violation of subsection (b) is a Class B felony if there are less than three (3) acts of sexual abuse of a child under the following subdivisions (c)(3)(A)--(F) but there are at least three (3) acts under any combination of subdivision (c)(1) and this subdivision (c)(3):

(A) § 39-13-502, if the child is more than thirteen (13) but less than eighteen (18) years of age;

(B) § 39-13-503, if the child is more than thirteen (13) but less than eighteen (18) years of age;

(C) § 39-13-504;

(D) § 39-13-522;

(E) § 39-13-529(a); or

(F) § 39-13-531.

(4) A violation of subsection (b) is a Class C felony if at least three (3) of the acts of sexual abuse of a child constitute violations of the following:

(A) § 39-13-527; or

(B) § 39-13-532.

(d) At least thirty (30) days prior to trial, the state shall file with the court a written notice identifying the multiple acts of sexual abuse of a child upon which the violation of this section is based. The notice shall include the identity of the victim and the statutory offense violated. Upon good cause, and where the defendant was unaware of the predicate offenses listed in the notice, the trial court may grant a continuance to facilitate proper notification of the incidents of sexual abuse of a child and for preparation by the defense of such incidents specified in the statement.

(e) The jury must agree unanimously that the defendant:

(1)(A) During a period of ninety (90) or more days in duration, committed three (3) or more acts of sexual abuse of a child; or

(B) During a period of less than ninety (90) days in duration, committed five (5) or more acts of sexual abuse of a child against at least two (2) different children; and

(2) Committed at least three (3) of the same specific acts of sexual abuse within the specified time period if prosecution is under subdivision (e)(1)(A) and at least five (5) of the same specific acts of sexual abuse within the specified time period if prosecution is under subdivision (e)(1)(B).

(f) The state may charge alternative violations of this section and of the separate offenses committed within the same time period. The separate incidents shall be alleged in separate counts and joined in the same action. A person may be convicted either of one (1) criminal violation of this section, or for one (1) or more of the separate incidents of sexual abuse of a child committed within the county in which the charges were filed, but not both. The state shall not be required to elect submission to the jury of the several counts. The jury shall be instructed to return a verdict on all counts in the indictment. In the event that a verdict of guilty is returned on a separate count that was included in the notice of separate incidents of sexual abuse of a child and the jury returns a verdict of guilty for a violation of this section, at the sentencing hearing the trial judge shall merge the separate count into the conviction under this section and only impose a sentence under this section. A conviction for a violation of this section bars the prosecution of the individual incidents of sexual abuse of a child as separate offenses described in the pretrial notice filed by the state and presented to the jury. A prosecution for a violation of this section does not bar a prosecution in the same action for individual incidents of sexual abuse not identified in the state's pretrial notice. The state shall be required to elect as to those individual incidents of sexual abuse not contained in the pretrial notice prior to submission to the jury. A conviction for such elected offenses shall not be subject to merger at sentencing.

(g) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, a person convicted of a violation of this section shall be punished by imprisonment and shall be sentenced from within the full range of punishment for the offense of which the defendant was convicted, regardless of the range for which the defendant would otherwise qualify.