Can it be a Crime to Wear a Body Vest?

It seems weird to think that wearing a bulletproof vest can be a crime in and of itself, but it can be.  Tennessee Code Annotated 39-17-1323 states that if you commit certain crimes while wearing body armor you can be charged with another crime on top of the crime you were caught committing!

What are those crimes that if you commit while wearing a body vest lead to another charge?  If you threaten or use violence against someone, if you commit a burglary or theft of a vehicle, or commit a crime involving a controlled substance.  If you do any of these while wearing a bulletproof vest, then you will be charged with another crime.

The statute even goes so far as to specifically spell out what they define as a body vest.  A body vest is defined as bullet-resistant soft armor which contains at least seven layers of bullet-resistant material providing protection from three shots of one hundred fifty-eight grain lead ammunition fired from a .38 caliber handgun at a velocity of eight hundred feet per second.

If you are charged under this statute with committing the crime while wearing a body vest then you will be charged with a Class E Felony, generally punishable by one to two years in prison.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.


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