New Tennessee Law Allows the Death Penalty for Child Rapists

 Posted on July 05,2024 in Sex Crime Charges

TN defense lawyerThe state of Tennessee recently joined Florida to become the second state in the U.S. to give prosecutors the option of seeking the death penalty for those convicted of child rape. This is despite the fact that the death penalty in Tennessee has been on hold since 2022 because of botched executions. Further, a Supreme Court ruling in 2008 (Kennedy vs. Louisiana) declared the death penalty a violation of the 8th  Amendment.

At that time, the Supreme Court found the death penalty to be cruel and unusual punishment when the crime itself did not involve murder. The new TN law went into effect July 1, 2024, even though the governor’s moratorium that placed a pause on state executions is still in place. The governor did not comment on how his moratorium on the death penalty could co-exist with the bill he just signed. Proponents of the new law believe it is justified under the theory that the death penalty will act as a deterrent to keep "would-be criminals" from committing reprehensible crimes.

While it has always been important for those charged with a sex offense against a child to have a skilled, knowledgeable attorney by their side, this new law makes it even more important. A Knoxville criminal defense attorney from The Baker Law Firm can help build a strong defense on your behalf, gather and evaluate all the evidence, and work on your behalf for the best outcome possible.

How This New Law Could Further Traumatize Child Victims

Others address the question of "what if" an innocent person is sentenced to death and whether such a death will further traumatize child victims. These children would be required to participate in the lengthy appeals process before the death sentence is imposed. Children could well be asked to relive their experience for many years and could, at some point, feel "responsible" for the death, particularly if the defendant is someone they know.

Of course, those who fought for the law say we need only look at the financial aspect of the situation. Housing an inmate for the duration of their life appears to be cheaper than housing a death row inmate for years. In the state of Florida, a 40-year life sentence costs roughly $20,000 a year as compared to housing a death row inmate, which is estimated to be between $3 million and $12 million per inmate.

What Were the Penalties for Child Rape Before the New Law?

Child rape is defined under (Section 39-13-531) as sexual penetration accompanied by force or coercion, which results in bodily injury to the victim. This crime is a Class A felony, and prior to the new law, the penalties were 15-60 years in prison, a maximum fine as large as $50,000, and community supervision (sex offender registration) for life. If the defendant was aided and abetted in the act by one or more people or had reason to know that the victim is mentally incapacitated, mentally defective, physically helpless, or a vulnerable adult under (Section 39-15-501), the punishments were similar.

Contact an Anderson County, TN Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing charges of child rape or another serious sex crime, you need immediate legal assistance. The attorney you choose can make a significant difference in the outcome. Having a skilled, knowledgeable Grainger County, TN criminal defense attorney who will carefully evaluate the evidence against you and then build a solid defense on your behalf is critical. Call The Baker Law Firm at 865-200-4117 today to set up a free consultation. During this first meeting, you can get answers to your questions and find out how your attorney intends to proceed with your defense.

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