DECLARATION OF RIGHTS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE


Section 1
That all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; for the advancement of those ends they have at all times, an unalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.


Section 2
That government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.


Section 3
That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience; that no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any minister against his consent; that no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience; and that no preference shall ever be given, by law to any religious establishment or mode of worship.


Section 4
That no political or religious test, other than an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and of this State, shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this state.


Section 5
That elections shall be free and equal, and the right of suffrage, as hereinafter declared, shall never be denied to any person entitled thereto, except upon a conviction by a jury of some infamous crime, previously ascertained and declared by law, and judgement thereon by court of competent jurisdiction.


Section 6
That the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate, and no religious or political test shall ever be required as a qualification for jurors.


Section 7
That the people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions from unreasonable searches and seizures; and that general warrants, whereby an officer may be commanded to search suspected places, without evidence of the act committed, to seize any person or persons not named, whose offenses are not particularly described and supported by evidence, are dangerous to liberty and ought not to be granted.


Section 8
That no man shall be taken or imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties or privileges, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any manner destroyed or deprived of his life, liberty or property, but by the judgement of his peers or the law of the land.


Section 9
That in all criminal prosecutions, the accused hath the right to be heard by himself and his counsel; to demand the nature and cause of the accusation against him, and to have a copy thereof, to meet the witnesses face to face, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and in prosecutions by indictment of presentment, a speedy public trial, by an impartial jury of the County in which the crime shall have been committed, and shall not be compelled to give evidence against himself.


Section 10
That no person shall, for the same offense, be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.


Section 11
That laws made for the punishment of acts committed previous to the existence of such laws, and by them only declared criminal, are contrary to the principles of a free Government, wherefore no Ex post facto law shall be made.


Section 12
That no conviction shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate. The estate of such persons as shall destroy their own lives shall descend or vest as in case of natural death. If any person be killed by casualty, there shall be no forfeiture in consequence thereof.


Section 13
That no person arrested and confined in jail shall be treated with unnecessary rigor.


Section 14
That no person shall be put to answer any criminal charge but by presentment, indictment or impeachment.


Section 15
That all prisoners shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, unless for capital offenses, when the proof is evident, or the presumption great. And the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in case of rebellion or invasion, the General Assembly shall declare the public safety requires it.


Section 16
That excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.


Section 17
That all courts shall be open; and every man, for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law, and right and justice administered without sale, denial, or delay. Suits may be brought against the State in such manner and in such courts as the legislature may by law direct.


Section 18
The legislature shall pass no law authorizing imprisonment for debt in civil cases.


Section 19
That the printing presses shall be free to every person to examine the proceedings of the legislature; or of any branch or officer of the government, and no law shall ever be made to restrain the right thereof. The free communication of thoughts and opinions, is one of the invaluable rights of man, and every citizen may freely speak, write, and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty. But in prosecutions for the publication of papers investigating the official conduct of officers, or men in public capacity, the truth thereof may be given in evidence; and in all indictments for libel, the jury shall have a right to determine the law and the facts, under the direction of the court, as in other criminal cases.


Section 20
That no retrospective law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, shall be made.


Section 21
That no man's particular services shall be demanded, or property taken, or applied to public use, without the consent of his representatives, or without just compensation being made therefore.


Section 22
That perpetuities and monopolies are contrary to the genius of a free state, and shall not be allowed


Section 23
That the citizens have a right, in a peaceable manner, to assemble together for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances, or other purposes, by address or remonstrance.


Section 24
That the sure and certain defense of a free people, is a well regulated militia; and, as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to freedom, they ought to be avoided as far as the circumstances and safety of the community will admit; and that in all cases the military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil authority.


Section 25
That no citizen of this state, except such as are employed in the army of the United States, or militia in actual services, shall be subjected to punishment under the martial or military law. That martial law, in the sense of the unrestricted power of military officers, or others, to dispose of the person, liberties, or property of the citizen, is inconsistent with the principles of free government, and is not confided to any department of the government of this State.


Section 26
That the citizens of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defense; but the legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime.


Section 27
That no soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner; nor in time of war, but in a manner prescribed by law.


Section 28
That no citizen of this State shall be compelled to bear arms, provided he will pay an equivalent, to be ascertained by law.


Section 29
That an equal participation in the free navigation of the Mississippi, is one of the inherent rights of the citizen of this State; it cannot, therefore, be conceded to any prince, potentate, power, person or persons whatever.


Section 30
That no hereditary emoluments, privileges, or honors, shall ever be granted or conferred in this State.


Section 31
That the limits and boundaries of this state be ascertained, it is declared they are as hereafter mentioned, that is to say: Beginning on the extreme height of the Stone Mountain, at the place where the line of Virginia intersects it, in latitude thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes north; running thence along the extreme height of the said mountain, to the place where Watauga river breaks through it; thence a direct course to the top of the Yellow Mountain, where Bright’s road crosses the same; thence along the ridge of said mountain, between the waters of Doe river and the waters of Rock creek, to the place where the road crosses the Iron Mountain; from thence along the extreme height of said mountain, to the place where Nolichucky river runs through the same; thence to the top of the Bald Mountain; thence along the extreme height of said mountain to the Painted Rock on French Broad river; thence along the highest ridge of said mountain, to the place where it is called the Great Iron or Smoky Mountain; thence along the extreme height of said mountain to the place where it is called Unicoi or Unaka Mountain, between the Indian towns of Cowee and Old Chota; thence along the main ridge of the said mountain to the southern boundary of this state, as described in the act of cession of North Carolina to the United States of America; and that all the territory, lands and waters lying west of said line, as before mentioned, and contained within the chartered limits of the state of North Carolina, are within the boundaries and limits of this state, over which the people have the right of exercising sovereignty, and the right of soil, so far as is consistent with the Constitution of the United States, recognizing the Articles of Confederation, the Bill of Rights and Constitution of North Carolina, the cession act of the said state, and the ordinance of Congress for the government of the territory north west of Ohio; Provided, nothing herein contained shall extend to affect the claim or claims of individuals to any part of the soil which is recognized to them by the aforesaid cession act; And provided also, that the limits and jurisdiction of this state shall extend to any other land and territory now acquired, or that may hereafter be acquired, by compact or agreement with other states, or otherwise, although such land and territory are not included within the boundaries herein before designated.


Section 32
That the erection of safe and comfortable prisons, the inspection of prisons, and the humane treatment of prisoners, shall be provided for.


Section 33
That slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, are forever prohibited in this State.


Section 34
The General Assembly shall make no law recognizing the right of property in man.


Section 35
To preserve and protect the rights of victims of crime to justice and due process, victims shall be entitled to the following basic rights:

(a) The right to confer with the prosecution.

(b) The right to be free from intimidation, harassment and abuse throughout the criminal justice system.

(c) The right to be present at all proceedings where the defendant has the right to be present.

(d) The right to be heard, when relevant, at all critical stages of the criminal justice process as defined by the General Assembly.

(e) The right to be informed of all proceedings, and of the release, transfer or escape of the accused or convicted person.

(f) The right to a speedy trial or disposition and a prompt and final conclusion of the case after the conviction or sentence.

(g) The right to restitution from the offender.

(h) The right to be informed of each of the rights established for victims.

The General Assembly has the authority to enact substantive and procedural laws to define, implement, preserve and protect the rights guaranteed to victims by this section.


LINK TO THE ENTIRE TENNESSEE STATE CONSTITUTION



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