Tennessee is unique in that it criminalizes what is most often a civil matter in other states. Under Tennessee 39-14-116 it is a class E felony to commit any act that hinders the creditor’s ability to enforce its security interest in the property you possess. You may not destroy, remove, or otherwise harm the value of any of your property with the intent to hinder enforcement of a security interest held by another on that property. Conviction of a class E felony in Tennessee could result in a prison term of one to six years, and fines up to $3,000.
Tennessee 39-14-116. Hindering secured creditors
The following is Tennessee 39-14-116:
(a) A person who claims ownership of or interest in any property which is the subject of a security interest, security agreement, deed of trust, mortgage, attachment, judgment or other statutory or equitable lien commits an offense who, with intent to hinder enforcement of that interest or lien, destroys, removes, conceals, encumbers, transfers, or otherwise harms or reduces the value of the property.
(b) For purposes of this section, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) “Remove” means transport, without the effective consent of the secured party, from the state or county in which the property was located when the security interest or lien attached; and
(2) “Security interest” means an interest in personal property or fixtures that secures payment or performance of an obligation.
(c) An offense under this section is a Class E felony.
Consult with a Tennessee attorney who has experience in criminal law. He or she will review the facts in your situation and advise you precisely regarding your rights and liabilities.
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