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Rep. Rusty Grills proposes bills to curb juvenile violent crime

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —State Rep. Rusty Grills, R-Newberntoday introduced legislation to combat a disturbing increase in violent crimes committed by juveniles. 

House Bill 7030 and House Bill 7031 are among several legislative proposals for the upcoming Aug. 21 special session dealing with public safety and mental health. 

The bills propose to allow the transfer of juveniles aged 16 and up to adult criminal court when they are charged with theft or burglary involving a firearm.

“This legislation addresses a dangerous trend in which young people are stealing or breaking into businesses, homes or cars because there are fewer consequences for their actions,” Grills said.

“Serious crimes should have serious consequences. Treating juveniles as adults in these cases acknowledges the severity of these crimes and will ensure victims’ rights are upheld. Our goal is to deter and redirect at-risk young people so they do not become repeat violent offenders in the future.”

Prosecutors will have the ability to request a transfer to adult court and judges will have the ability to use their discretion based on the facts of each individual case.

Approximately 1,400 felony crimes were committed by a juvenile with a firearm in 2021, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s most recent data.  Among those, approximately 417 were robberies involving firearms.

Existing state law allows courts to transfer a juvenile to adult court for certain crimes, including first-degree murder, second-degree murder, rape, aggravated rape, rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child, aggravated robbery, especially aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, especially aggravated burglary, kidnapping, commission of an act of terrorism, and carjacking.

The 66th Extraordinary Special Session of the Tennessee General Assembly is scheduled to convene Aug. 21 at 4 p.m.

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