Tennessee Laws Regarding Felony Convictions

Punishment goes beyond imprisonment for those convicted of felonies in Tennessee.
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Those convicted of committing felonies may experience more than a loss of freedom in Tennessee. State laws mean that the consequences of convictions can be lasting and far-reaching. These laws place several limitations on the freedoms and rights enjoyed by convicted felons and can create additional punishments for violations of the prohibitions.


Tennessee law allows employers to exclude convicted felons from employment in certain professions. These professions are typically those that require the employee to hold a certain license. Felons can have their license applications denied and can have previously obtained licenses revoked due to the conviction. Felons are barred from work as: 911 operators or dispatchers; sheriff office employees or police officers; private investigators; real estate agents; bail bondsmen; certified public accountants; nurses; and general contractors.


Tennessee law prohibits those convicted of felony violent crimes or drug offenses from possessing a firearm while serving a sentence. Those who were convicted of committing a felony between 1986 and 1996 and were not sentenced to imprisonment may have their right to possess a firearm restored automatically after completion of their sentence. However, those who were imprisoned, as well as those convicted of felonies before or after those dates, must apply for restoration of their rights through the state's court system. Persons convicted of violent crimes may never regain the right to possess a gun. Furthermore, federal laws may prohibit those convicted of felonies from obtaining the right to possess a gun. A person who violates this law can receive another felony conviction.

Read More: Restrictions for Convicted Felons


Tennessee law prohibits those convicted of felony crimes from voting within the state. This prohibition applies until the felon has completed his sentence, including any term of imprisonment, parole or probation. A convicted felon can have her right to vote restored once she has completed her sentence and paid all fines, court-ordered restitution and court costs. The felon must also be current on any court-ordered child support, if applicable. However, certain felons may not have their right to vote in Tennessee restored. These include those convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated rape, treason or voter fraud between July 1, 1996 and June 30, 2006.


Tennessee law requires those convicted of certain crimes to register on the Tennessee Sexual Offender Registry. Crimes that require registration include sexual battery, false imprisonment of a minor and solicitation. Furthermore, the law requires those convicted of certain crimes to register as a violent sexual offender. These crimes include aggravated rape, spousal rape, solicitation of a minor and attempted rape. Those who must register are also required to give DNA samples and report any changes in their home or work address to the police. Individuals who commit sex crimes against minors are also forbidden from living or working within 1,000 feet of places children frequent, including parks, schools and day care centers.

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