Knowledgebase-Court Reform and Your Municipal Code


Information Product

Title:Court Reform and Your Municipal Code
Summary:A list of offenses you may have in your municipal code that provide penalties that exceed the jurisdiction of your city court.
Original Author:Lobertini, Steve
Co-Author:
Product Create Date:07/24/2006
Last Reviewed on::03/23/2010
Subject:Municipal ordinances--Codes of ordinances; Courts--Municipal
Type:General
Original Document: Court Reform and Your Municipal Code.pdf

Reference Documents:

Text of Document: Court Reform and Your Municipal Code

Under the 2006 amendment no. 3 to House Bill 3918, which amends the Municipal Court Reform Act of 2004, a city may not enforce any municipal law or ordinance that “mirrors, substantially duplicates or incorporates by cross-reference the language of a state criminal statute” that is classified as a Class A or B Misdemeanor or a Felony.

Here’s a list of offenses you may have in your municipal code that provide penalties that exceed the jurisdiction of your city court. The number in parentheses at the beginning of each entry is the likely section number in MTAS 20 title municipal codes for that offense. If the section number is not correct for your code, consult your code index and the list of sections at the beginning of each chapter in the listed titles to locate the section in your code.

Title 10, “Animal Control,” Chapter 1

(10-104) The first paragraph of the section entitled “Adequate food, water, and shelter, etc., to be provided,” reads, “No animal or fowl shall be kept or confined in any place where the food, water, shelter, and ventilation are not adequate and sufficient for the preservation of its health and safety.” Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-14-202(a)(2), “Cruelty to Animals” (unreasonable failure to provide necessary food, water, care or shelter). Class A misdemeanor. A second or subsequent conviction is a Class E felony. The second paragraph of the municipal code section is normally fine, but the section should be re-titled “Storage of food.”

(10-106) “Cruel treatment prohibited” (of animals). Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-14-202, “Cruelty to Animals.” Class A misdemeanor.

Title 11, “Municipal Offenses.”

(11-301 or 11-806) “Assault and battery.” Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-13-101, “Assault.” Class A or Class B misdemeanor.

(11-602) “Throwing missiles.” This section usually prohibits throwing missiles “upon or at any vehicle” among other things. (11-602) “Throwing missiles.” This section usually prohibits throwing missiles “upon or at any vehicle” among other things. Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-14-413 prohibits throwing hard substances at a “train, locomotive, railway car, caboose, street railway car, bus, motorcycle, steam vessel or other watercraft...” Class B misdemeanor. The municipal code section should be modified to replace or delete the broad category “vehicle.”

(11-703) “Malicious mischief.” Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-14-408, “Vandalism.” Class A misdemeanor up to a Class B felony, depending on the severity of the offense.

(11-801) “Abandoned refrigerators, etc.” Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-17-103, “Abandonment of airtight containers.” Class B misdemeanor.

(11-901) “Disorderly houses,” Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-13-513, “Prostitution” (engaging in prostitution), Class B or Class A misdemeanor. Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-13-515, “Promoting prostitution,” Class E felony.

(11-902) “Immoral conduct.” Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-13-515, “Promoting prostitution,” Class E felony. Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-13-514, “Patronizing prostitution,” Class B misdemeanor.

(11-903) “Obscene literature, etc.” Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-17-901, et seq. Class A misdemeanor up to a Class E felony.

(11-904), “Indecent or improper exposure or dress.” Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-13-511, “Public indecency – Indecent exposure.” Class A or Class B misdemeanor.
(11-905), “Window peeping.” Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-13-607, “Observation without consent.” Class A misdemeanor.

(11-1102), “Promotion of gambling.” Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-17-503. Class B misdemeanor.

Title 13, “Property Maintenance Regulations.”

(13-108), “Adulterated food, drugs, and cosmetics.” Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-17-107, “Adulteration of food, liquids, or pharmaceuticals.” Class B misdemeanor, Class C felony.

Title 15, “Motor Vehicles.”

(15-107), “Reckless driving.” Tennessee Code Annotated, 55-10-205. Class B misdemeanor.

(15-501). [Yielding] “Upon approach of authorized emergency vehicles.” Tennessee Code Annotated, 55-8-132(e), as amended by 2006 Tenn. Pub. Acts Ch. 653, this is a Class B misdemeanor.

Miscellaneous other offenses.

“Criminal littering.” Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-14-502. Class B misdemeanor.

“Disrupting meeting or procession.” Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-17-306. Class B misdemeanor.

“Worthless checks.” Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-14-121. Class A misdemeanor or felony.

What to do?

Adopt an ordinance to repeal or modify some or all of these if they appear in your code. We’ll make the changes effected by your ordinances when we next update your code.

Remember to check your charter first. A few city charters require each ordinance to contain only one subject.

If I can help you with sample ordinances, please contact me in our Knoxville office at steve.lobertini@tennessee.edu, or by phone at 865-974-9835.