TN Supreme Court opinion: State v. Michael Casper

State of Tennessee v. Michael Casper View

Rutherford County– The defendant was convicted of fifteen counts of willfully selling securities without registering with the state as a broker-dealer or agent in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 48-2-109. The trial court imposed concurrent sentences of four years on each count, required eleven months to be served in jail, and ordered twelve years of probation, community service, and the payment of fines and restitution.

The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed and dismissed the convictions on grounds of insufficient evidence, holding that the term “willfully” in the criminal penalties section of the Tennessee Securities Act of 1980 required that the defendant not only had to act deliberately, but also had to be aware that his conduct was prohibited by law. We adopt the majority rule and hold that the statute does not require the state to prove that the defendant knew his or her acts were illegal in order to establish a willful violation of our state securities laws.

The term “willfully” in Tennessee Code Annotated section 48-2-123(a) requires only that the accused acted deliberately and was fully aware of his or her conduct. Because the defendant was aware he was selling securities and knew that he was not registered as a broker-dealer or agent, we reinstate the convictions and the sentences.