Felony Ranges in Tennessee – Part 5: The Especially Mitigated Offender

There are five felony offender classifications in Tennessee – career, persistent, multiple, standard, and especially mitigated. For most felonies, your classification determines both the number of years you may be sentenced to and the percentage of your sentence you have to serve before you are parole eligible. Therefore, it is very important to understand felony offender ranges in Tennessee.

If the court finds that a defendant is an especially mitigated defender, the court may reduce the defendant’s standard offender sentence by ten percent (10%), or reduce the release eligibility date by twenty percent (20%). or both.  T.C.A. § 40-35-109.  Assuming the court uses both reductions, the sentencing ranges for especially mitigated offenders is as follows:

A Felony – 13.5 years at 20%

B Felony – 7.2 years at 20%

C Felony – 2.7 years at 20%

D Felony – 1.8 years at 20%

E Felony – .9 years at 20%

So what qualifies someone to take advantage of these reductions?  Under the statute, the court may find the defendant is an especially mitigated offender if:

(1) The defendant has no prior felony convictions; and

(2) The court finds mitigating, but no enhancement factors.

T.C.A. § 40-35-109.

Mitigating factors include, but are not limited to:

(1)  The defendant’s criminal conduct neither caused nor threatened serious bodily injury;

(2)  The defendant acted under strong provocation;

(3)  Substantial grounds exist tending to excuse or justify the defendant’s criminal conduct, though failing to establish a defense;

(4)  The defendant played a minor role in the commission of the offense;

(5)  Before detection, the defendant compensated or made a good faith attempt to compensate the victim of criminal conduct for the damage or injury the victim sustained;

(6)  The defendant, because of youth or old age, lacked substantial judgment in committing the offense;

(7)  The defendant was motivated by a desire to provide necessities for the defendant’s family or the defendant’s self;

(8)  The defendant was suffering from a mental or physical condition that significantly reduced the defendant’s culpability for the offense; however, the voluntary use of intoxicants does not fall within the purview of this factor;

(9)  The defendant assisted the authorities in uncovering offenses committed by other persons or in detecting or apprehending other persons who had committed the offenses;

(10)  The defendant assisted the authorities in locating or recovering any property or person involved in the crime;

(11)  The defendant, although guilty of the crime, committed the offense under such unusual circumstances that it is unlikely that a sustained intent to violate the law motivated the criminal conduct;

(12)  The defendant acted under duress or under the domination of another person, even though the duress or the domination of another person is not sufficient to constitute a defense to the crime; and

(13)  Any other factor consistent with the purposes of this chapter.

T.C.A. § 40-35-113.

Regarding enhancement factors, the court may consider, but is not bound by, the following:

(1) The defendant has a previous history of criminal convictions or criminal behavior, in addition to those necessary to establish the appropriate range;

(2) The defendant was a leader in the commission of an offense involving two (2) or more criminal actors;

(3) The offense involved more than one (1) victim;

(4) A victim of the offense was particularly vulnerable because of age or physical or mental disability;

(5) The defendant treated, or allowed a victim to be treated, with exceptional cruelty during the commission of the offense;

(6) The personal injuries inflicted upon, or the amount of damage to property sustained by or taken from, the victim was particularly great;

(7) The offense involved a victim and was committed to gratify the defendant’s desire for pleasure or excitement;

(8) The defendant, before trial or sentencing, failed to comply with the conditions of a sentence involving release into the community;

(9) The defendant possessed or employed a firearm, explosive device or other deadly weapon during the commission of the offense;

(10) The defendant had no hesitation about committing a crime when the risk to human life was high;

(11) The felony resulted in death or serious bodily injury, or involved the threat of death or serious bodily injury, to another person, and the defendant has previously been convicted of a felony that resulted in death or serious bodily injury;

(12) During the commission of the felony, the defendant intentionally inflicted serious bodily injury upon another person, or the actions of the defendant resulted in the death of, or serious bodily injury to, a victim or a person other than the intended victim;

(13) At the time the felony was committed, one (1) of the following classifications was applicable to the defendant:

(A) Released on bail or pretrial release, if the defendant is ultimately convicted of the prior misdemeanor or felony;

(B) Released on parole;

(C) Released on probation;

(D) On work release;

(E) On community corrections;

(F) On some form of judicially ordered release;

(G) On any other type of release into the community under the direct or indirect supervision of any state or local governmental authority or a private entity contracting with the state or a local government;

(H) On escape status; or

(I) Incarcerated in any penal institution on a misdemeanor or felony charge or a misdemeanor or felony conviction;

(14) The defendant abused a position of public or private trust, or used a professional license in a manner that significantly facilitated the commission or the fulfillment of the offense;

(15) The defendant committed the offense on the grounds or facilities of a pre-kindergarten through grade twelve (pre-K-12) public or private institution of learning when minors were present;

(16) The defendant was adjudicated to have committed a delinquent act or acts as a juvenile that would constitute a felony if committed by an adult;

(17) The defendant intentionally selected the person against whom the crime was committed or selected the property that was damaged or otherwise affected by the crime, in whole or in part, because of the defendant’s belief or perception regarding the race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry or gender of that person or the owner or occupant of that property; however, this subdivision (17) should not be construed to permit the enhancement of a sexual offense on the basis of gender selection alone;

(18) The offense was an act of terrorism or was related to an act of terrorism;

(19) If the defendant is convicted of the offense of aggravated assault pursuant to § 39-13-102, the victim of the aggravated assault was a law enforcement officer, firefighter, correctional officer, youth services officer, probation and parole officer, a state registered security officer/guard, an employee of the department of correction or the department of children’s services, a uniformed member of the armed forces or national guard, an emergency medical or rescue worker, emergency medical technician or paramedic, whether compensated or acting as a volunteer; provided, that the victim was performing an official duty and the defendant knew or should have known that the victim was such an officer or employee;

(20) If the defendant is convicted of the offenses of rape pursuant to § 39-13-503, sexual battery pursuant to § 39-13-505 or rape of a child pursuant to § 39-13-522, the defendant caused the victim to be mentally incapacitated or physically helpless by use of a controlled substance or controlled substance analogue;

(21) If the defendant is convicted of the offenses of aggravated rape pursuant to § 39-13-502, rape pursuant to § 39-13-503, rape of a child pursuant to § 39-13-522 or statutory rape pursuant to § 39-13-506, the defendant knew or should have known that, at the time of the offense, the defendant was HIV positive;


(A) If the defendant is convicted of the offenses of aggravated arson pursuant to § 39-14-302 or vandalism pursuant to § 39-14-408, the damage or destruction was caused to a structure, whether temporary or permanent in nature, used as a place of worship and the defendant knew or should have known that it was a place of worship;

(B) As used in subdivision (22)(A), “place of worship” means any structure that is:

(i) Approved, or qualified to be approved, by the state board of equalization for property tax exemption pursuant to § 67-5-212, based on ownership and use of the structure by a religious institution; and

(ii) Utilized on a regular basis by a religious institution as the site of congregational services, rites or activities communally undertaken for the purpose of worship;

(23) The defendant is an adult and sells to or gives or exchanges a controlled substance, controlled substance analogue or other illegal drug with a minor;

(24) The offense involved the theft of property and, as a result of the manner in which the offense was committed, the victim suffered significant damage to other property belonging to the victim or for which the victim was responsible;


(A) The defendant commits an offense:

(i) During the time period between the first occurrence of events or conduct that later results in a declaration of a state of emergency by a county, the governor, or the president of the United States and the time the county, governor, or the president of the United States terminates the state of emergency, as provided in § 58-2-107;

(ii) Within the area or areas threatened by the emergency, as established by the county’s, governor’s, or president’s declaration of a state of emergency; and

(iii) Knowing of the existence of the emergency;

(B) As used in this subdivision (25):

(i) “Emergency” means an occurrence, or threat thereof, whether natural, technological, or manmade, in war or in peace, that results or may result in substantial injury or harm to the population, or substantial damage to or loss of property; provided, that natural threats may include disease outbreaks and epidemics; and

(ii) “Offense” means the defendant is convicted of a violation of § 39-14-103, § 39-14-104, § 39-14-408, or any other offense involving theft or vandalism that is graded by value pursuant to § 39-14-105, and the value of the property or service taken or property damaged is no greater than the value provided in § 39-14-105 for a Class E felony;

(26) The defendant committed the offense of robbery pursuant to § 39-13-401, aggravated robbery pursuant to § 39-13-402, or especially aggravated robbery pursuant to § 39-13-403, on the premises of a licensed pharmacy in an effort to unlawfully obtain, sell, give, or exchange a controlled substance, controlled substance analogue, or other illegal drug;

(27) The defendant commits a violent offense, as classified in § 40-35-120(b), against a uniformed law enforcement officer or uniformed member of the armed forces or national guard; and the defendant intentionally selected the person against whom the crime was committed, in whole or in part, because of the person’s status as a law enforcement officer or member of the armed forces or national guard; and

(28) At the time the instant offense was committed, the defendant was illegally or unlawfully in the United States.

T.C.A. § 40-35-114.

As always, talk with a lawyer about the specific details of your case. Some crimes have unique sentences and release eligibility dates.

Other Felony Sentencing Classifications: Career Offender, Persistent Offender, Multiple Offender, and Standard Offender

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s