TENNESSEE CRIMINAL LAWS FOR THE ENFORCEMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT
Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-15-101. Nonsupport; flagrant nonsupport
(a) A person commits the crime of nonsupport who fails to provide support which that person is able to provide and knows HE has a duty to provide to a minor child or to a child or spouse who, because of physical or mental disability, is unable to be self-supporting.
(b) "Child" includes legitimate children and children whose parentage has been admitted by the person charged or established by judicial action.
(c) "Support" includes, but is not limited to, financial assistance, food, shelter, clothing, medical attention or, if determined elsewhere by law, other necessary care.
(d) A person commits the offense of flagrant nonsupport who:
(1) Leaves or remains without the state to avoid a legal duty of support; or
(2) Having been convicted one (1) or more times of nonsupport or flagrant nonsupport, is convicted of a subsequent offense under this section.
(e) Nonsupport under subsection (a) is a Class A misdemeanor. Flagrant nonsupport under subsection (d) is a Class E felony.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-15-102. Jurisdiction
(a) The juvenile court is vested with jurisdiction to:
(1) Try, determine, and render final judgment in all misdemeanor cases under 39-15-101 where the person enters a plea of guilty, nolo contendere, or not guilty and expressly waives indictment, presentment, grand jury investigation, and jury trial in writing. In such cases, the trial shall proceed before the court without the intervention of a jury;
(2) Conduct preliminary hearings in all felony cases under 39-15-101(d), and if the court finds probable cause and in all other cases where the person pleads not guilty to a felony charge or does not waive the right to a jury trial, bind the person over for the action of the grand jury under appropriate bond; and
(3) Regardless of whether the person is tried in juvenile court or bound over, enter an order of protection and assistance which may require the person to:
(A) Stay away from the home, dependent child or spouse;
(B) Permit the defendant visitation with the child or children at reasonable or stated periods;
(C) Abstain from offensive conduct against the dependent child or spouse or from otheracts which tend to make the home an unfit place for the dependent person to live; or
(D) Give proper attention to the care of the home.
(b)(1) In all cases where the person pleads or is found guilty of a misdemeanor under 39-15-101(a), the court shall sentence the person in accordance with title 40, chapter 35, and enter appropriate orders of support, protection and/or assistance.
(2) In the event the person's sentence is suspended, the court may require the person to give security by bond with sufficient sureties approved by the court for the payment of the order of support. Should the court subsequently find the person is able to comply with the order and fails to do so, the bond shall be forfeited and the proceeds therefrom paid into the court to be applied to the order of support, and the person shall be brought forthwith before the court of enforcement of the sentence.
(c) In all cases where the person is bound over to the grand jury, the criminal court shall enforce any order of protection and assistance entered by the juvenile court, and may, if the person is convicted, include any such order or modification thereof as part of the judgment and sentence.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-15-103. Appeal and review
(a) An appeal from any final order or decree of the juvenile court pursuant to the provisions of this part may be perfected to the court of appeals; provided, that any order of actual imprisonment except for contempt may be perfected as are appeals from any other criminal conviction pursuant to 40-4-112.
(b) No appeal shall operate as a stay of execution unless the person receives the court's permission, gives the security provided in 39-15-102(b)(2) and, when necessary, executes an appearance bond.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-15-104. Procedure
(a) When complaint on oath is made to the judge of any juvenile court against a person to be charged with a violation of this part, such judge must issue a warrant requiring the arrest of the person charged and that person is to be brought before the judge for examination; provided, that if the person, being duly summoned or voluntarily appearing, acknowledges the obligation of support, the court may in its discretion enter a consent order in lieu of the issuance of a warrant.
(b) No arrest warrant shall issue for the violation of any court order of support if the violation occurred during a period of time in which the person was incarcerated in any penal institution and was otherwise unable to comply with the order; provided, that this section shall not prevent the determining of arrearages under any previous order, and enforcement of such order as is consistent with the person's ability to comply.
(c) It is the duty of the governor to demand the return of any person charged under 39-15-101(d) from the governor of any other state where the person may be found, upon proper warrant being issued or indictment being returned.
(d) Any court vested with jurisdiction to implement the provisions of this part may enforce its orders and decrees by execution or in any way in which a court of equity may enforce its orders and decrees, including by imprisonment and fine for contempt. No property of the person, except all statutory homestead rights, shall be exempt from levy and sale under such execution or other process issued from the court. All provisions of title 36, chapter 5 that relate to child support or child support orders that include an order of spousal support, and 50-2-105 shall apply to support orders issued in these proceedings.
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