2020 Tennessee Code
Title 39 - Criminal Offenses
Chapter 14 - Offenses Against Property
Part 4 - Burglary and Related Offenses
§ 39-14-414. Equal Access to Public Property Act of 2012 — Protection of State Property

Universal Citation: TN Code § 39-14-414 (2020)
  1. This section shall be known and may be cited as the “Equal Access to Public Property Act of 2012.”
  2. As used in this section, “camping” means:
    1. Any of the following at any time between ten o'clock p.m. (10:00 p.m.) and seven o'clock a.m. (7:00 a.m.):
      1. Erecting, placing, maintaining, leaving, allowing to remain, or using a piece of furniture, tent, raised tarp, or other temporary shelter, structure, or furniture;
      2. Placing or storing personal belongings for future use, including storing food for consumption; or
      3. Carrying on cooking activities, whether by fire or use of artificial means, such as a propane stove or other heat-producing portable cooking equipment;
    2. Sleeping or making preparations to sleep, including laying down a sleeping bag, blanket, or other material used for bedding;
    3. Making a fire or preparing to make a fire; or
    4. Doing any digging or earth breaking.
  3. An area of state-owned land may be designated as a camping area by the department, agency, official or officials responsible for the operation, protection or maintenance of the property in question. The area's designation as a camping area may be accomplished by means of signage, advertisement or other notice designed to make known its availability for the activity of camping.
    1. It is an offense for a person to engage in camping on property owned by the state knowing that the area on which the camping occurs is not specifically designated for use as a camping area by the department or agency responsible for the land.
    2. The department, agency, official, or officials responsible for the operation, protection, or maintenance of the property may designate an area as a camping area by means of signage, advertisement, or other notice designed to make known its availability for camping. However, a person shall not be guilty of a violation of subdivision (d)(1) unless the person was notified by an official responsible for the protection of the property in question that camping is prohibited and continued to engage in camping or returned within twenty-four (24) hours of the warning and continued to engage in camping.
    3. A person is not guilty of a violation of subdivision (d)(1) if the person was given permission or authorization by the department, agency, or official responsible for the operation, protection, or maintenance of the property to engage in camping on the property.
    4. Any items used to commit a violation of this section, including items abandoned at the location of the offense, are subject to confiscation, seizure, and claiming in accordance with subsection (e).
  4. Any property subject to confiscation or seizure under subsection (d), unclaimed in connection with a violation of subsection (d), or left unattended after arrest or issuance of a citation for camping in violation of subsection (d), and taken into state custody shall be held by the state agency or its agent in a secure location for a period of ninety (90) days. Notice containing the contact information of the state agency or agent holding the property must be posted at the nearest reasonable location to the place from which the property was removed. If the property is not claimed within ninety (90) days of being taken into custody, the property is deemed abandoned and the agency or agent may dispose of the property, unless the property is needed for evidence in a criminal proceeding. If a person claiming any such property within ninety (90) days of the property being taken into custody produces identification and signs a release form providing the person's name and contact information and swearing under oath that the property belongs to the person, the state agency or agent shall return the property to the person, unless the property is needed for evidence in a criminal proceeding, in which case the property shall be returned following the conclusion of that proceeding. The state agency or agent may charge such persons a reasonable storage fee for storing the property. The state and its employees, agents, and contractors are immune from liability for property confiscated in compliance with this subsection (e).
  5. A violation of this section is a Class E felony. In any sentence imposed for a violation of this section, the court shall include an order of restitution for any property damage or loss incurred as a result of the offense.
  6. Nothing in this section shall be construed as preempting or preventing a state department or agency with responsibility for state property from enacting or enforcing other lawful and reasonable rules, regulations, or statutes that concern the use of and access to state property. However, if any such rule, regulation or statute is in conflict with this section, it is the intent that this section shall prevail and the prohibition against camping on state property in areas not designated as camping areas be a uniform one.
Disclaimer: These codes may not be the most recent version. Tennessee may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on the state site. Please check official sources.