Tennessee Domestic Violence Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of attorney writers and editors.

Like other states across the U.S., domestic violence is illegal in Tennessee. The state prohibits the abuse of current or former family members or romantic partners. The term used in Tennessee for the crime of physical domestic violence is "domestic assault."

What Is Domestic Assault?

In Tennessee, domestic assault is basically a category of assault that has a specific type of victim. It's a domestic assault when it's committed against someone who is a:

  • Current or former spouse;
  • Cohabitant;
  • Dating or sexual partner;
  • Blood or adoptive relative;
  • Current or former relative by marriage; or
  • Adult or minor child of any of the above individuals.

Abusers can also be charged with any other crimes they commit against the same current or former partner and family member victim(s), including rape, child abuse, child neglect, child endangerment, or false imprisonment.

Victim Resources and Protection Orders

If you're a survivor of domestic violence in Tennessee and haven't yet reached out for help, please try contacting the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence. Also, if you don't yet have a protection order, it may be a good idea to obtain one. Having a protection order will allow you to call the police and have your abuser arrested if he or she comes after you in violation of the protection order.

Tennessee Domestic Violence Laws Overview

Legal research should include reading the actual language of the law, but it can be equally important to read an overview of the law because it can help you better understand what the law does. Below you'll find an overview of the key provisions of Tennessee's domestic violence laws and links to relevant statutes.

Statute(s)

Tennessee Code, Title 39, Chapter 13, Part 1, Section 39-13-111 (Domestic Assault)

Defining Assault

An assault occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly causes:

  1. bodily injury to another person*;
  2. another person to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury; or
  3. physical contact with another person and a reasonable person would consider the contact as extremely offensive or provocative.

*it's also an assault if a person recklessly causes bodily injury to someone.

Charges

Domestic assault is a Class A misdemeanor unless it's committed under subdivision (3), then it's a Class B misdemeanor.

Penalties

The authorized penalties for misdemeanors are as follows:

  • Class A misdemeanor: up to 11 months, 29 days and/or a maximum fine of $2,500.
  • Class B Misdemeanor: not more than 6 months in jail and a $500 fine.

Additional penalties for multiple convictions:

  • A second conviction can be punishable by a fine of $350 to $3,500, and 30 days to 11 months and 29 days in jail.
  • A third or subsequent conviction can be punishable by a fine of $1,100 to $5,000, and 90 days to 11 months and 29 days in jail.
Related Statute(s)

Tennessee Code, Title 36, Chapter 3, Part 6, Section 36-3-601, et seq. (Domestic Abuse)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Additional Penalties for Violating Tennessee Domestic Violence Laws

In addition to the penalties listed in the chart above, a person convicted of domestic assault can face a fine of up to $200 (based on the defendant's ability to pay), which goes to the Tennessee general fund for family violence shelters and services. Also, if you're convicted of domestic assault or have a protection order against you, the penalties include losing your right to possess firearms.

Tennessee Domestic Violence Laws: Related Resources

Facing Domestic Violence Charges? An Attorney Can Help

Being convicted of a domestic violence crime in Tennessee can mean jail time, fines, or losing your gun rights. If you're facing domestic abuse charges, then it's in your best interest to consult with a skilled defense attorney who can assess your options. You can start today by contacting an experienced Tennessee defense attorney near you.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.