(information last updated Fall 2017)

Collection of Information:

Ag-Gag Law:

“A person commits an offense if, without the consent of the owner, the person … enters or remains on an animal facility with the intent to disrupt or damage the enterprise conducted at the animal facility, and the person:

    (A) Had notice that the entry was forbidden;

    (B) Knew or should have known that the animal facility was or had closed to the public; or

    (C) Received notice to depart but failed to do so.”  Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-803.

Drone Law:

See infra “Drone Laws.”

Trespass Laws:

Criminal Liability for Trespass Despite Lack of Notice:

Yes.  Entry of private land without the owner’s consent constitutes trespass.  See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-405.  Consent is inferred when the “owner has communicated [her] intent that the property be open to the general public.”  Id.

Other Provisions:

See infra “Drone Laws.”

Drone Laws:


“(a) Subject to the exceptions set forth in § 39-13-902(a), a person commits an offense if the person:

      (1) Uses an unmanned aircraft to capture an image of an individual or privately owned real property in this state with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image;

      (6)(A) Without the business operator’s written consent, knowingly uses an unmanned aircraft within two hundred fifty feet (250’) of the perimeter of any critical infrastructure facility for the purpose of conducting surveillance of, gathering evidence or collecting information about, or photographically or electronically recording, critical infrastructure data.”  Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-903.


“Critical infrastructure facility” includes, but is not limited to facilities that manufacture, store, process, treat, or transmit chemicals, oil, gas, electricity, and water.  Id.


“(C) This subdivision (a)(6) shall not prohibit an unmanned aircraft system from operating for commercial purposes in compliance with authorization granted by the Federal Aviation Administration.”  Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-903.


“(a) Notwithstanding § 39-13-903, it is lawful to capture an image using an unmanned aircraft in this state:

     (9) If the image is captured by state or local law enforcement authorities, or a person who is under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of state authorities, for the purpose of:

         (C) Conducting routine air quality sampling and monitoring, as provided by state or local law;

    (10) At the scene of a spill, or a suspected spill, of hazardous materials.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-902.

Trespass Law:

“(a) A person commits criminal trespass if the person enters or remains on property, or any portion of property, without the consent of the owner.  Consent may be inferred in the case of property that is used for commercial activity available to the general public or in the case of other property when the owner has communicated the owner’s intent that the property be open to the general public.

“(d) For purposes of this section, “enter” means intrusion of the entire body or when a person causes an unmanned aircraft to enter that portion of the airspace above the owner’s land not regulated as navigable airspace by the federal aviation administration.”  Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-405.

Stalking Laws:

Criminal Law:

“‘Stalking’ means a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested, and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested;

. . .


(1) A person commits an offense who intentionally engages in stalking.

(2) Stalking is a Class A misdemeanor.”


Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-315.

Civil Law:

“(a) There is hereby created a civil cause of action for malicious harassment.

(b) A person may be liable to the victim of malicious harassment for both special and general damages, including, but not limited to, damages for emotional distress, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, and punitive damages.”  Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-21-701.

Use of Information:

Although our research is incomplete, these provisions address the use of information collected by citizens.

Explicitly Prohibits:

“[A]n image captured in violation of § 39-13-903, . . . (1) May not be used as evidence in any criminal or juvenile proceeding, civil action, or administrative proceeding.”  Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-905.

Evidentiary Standard:

Pleading a Claim:

Requires certification that “the allegations and other factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.”  Tenn. R. Civ. P. 11.02.

Authentication or Chain of Custody:


“The requirement of authentication or identification as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by evidence sufficient to the court to support a finding by the trier of fact that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.”  Tenn. R. Evid. 901.

Expert Testimony:

Daubert standard is instructive.  See McDaniel v. CSX Transp., Inc., 955 S.W.2d 257, 265 (Tenn. 1997).


Please note that this discussion is not moderated by the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.