Tennessee Drug Possession Offenses
The charges you can face range from a misdemeanor, with a maximum punishment of eleven months and twenty-nine days, to an A felony with a maximum sentence of forty years.
Possession of a small amount of an illegal or controlled substance without a valid prescription is a serious crime in the State of Tennessee that can affect your life for years. Whether you are facing drug possession charges for a small amount of marijuana or drug trafficking charges for a large quantity of cocaine, you need a skilled and competent Knoxville, TN, drug possession attorney.
Tennessee Drug Schedules
Just as they are under federal law, controlled substances, and illegal drugs are classified according to Tennessee criminal drug laws based on their accepted medical use and potential for abuse or dependency. The D.E.A. divides these chemicals and substances into VII Schedules or classifications. Schedules VI and VII, however, are reserved for marijuana and butyl nitrate, respectively.
Substances are rated primarily according to their abuse potential. The higher the potential for abuse, the lower the classification. Subsequently, Schedule 1 has the highest potential for abuse. The Schedules are as follows:
- Schedule I Drugs:
- Schedule II Drugs:
- Schedule III Drugs:
- Schedule IV Drugs:
- Schedule V Drugs:
- Schedule VI Drugs:
Schedule I chemicals, drugs, or substances are defined as those substances that have no currently accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. This category of substances consists of the most closely regulated chemicals and most harshly criminalized drug charges. Examples of Schedule I drugs include:
- Lysergic acid diethylamide (L.S.D.)
- Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy)
Crimes involving Schedule I substances are generally Class B felonies for first-time offenders. Depending on their prior criminal history and other mitigating factors, Schedule 1 convictions could result in a Class A Felony, punishable by up to forty years.
Schedule II chemicals or drugs are those substances that have a high abuse potential but have some accepted medical use under certain restrictions.
Due to the possible long-term physical or psychological implications, they are considered dangerous. Examples of Schedule II drugs include:
Drug violations for Schedule II chemicals are Class C felonies. The consequence of a Class C felony drug charge includes possible jail time of three to fifteen years.
Schedule III substances or chemicals are drugs that have an accepted medical use and a low to moderate potential for psychological or physical dependence. These substances include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Anabolic steroids
- Tylenol with Codeine
A Schedule III drug charge is a Class D felony, punishable with a two to twelve-year sentence.
Schedule IV drugs or chemicals are substances with an accepted medical use and a low abuse potential or risk of dependence. Abuse, however, may result in some psychological or physical dependence. Examples include:
Schedule IV charges are typically a Class D felony. The punishment for which ranges from two to twelve years.
Schedule V substances have an accepted medical use but include over-the-counter, non-prescription drugs produced with certain controlled substances. Abuse of these chemicals can lead to a level of physical or psychological dependence. Examples of Schedule V drugs include substances like over-the-counter cough syrup with Codeine and the following:
- (Robitussin A.C.)
Schedule V drug charges are Class E felonies that can result in sentences of one to six years.
Marijuana and other substances with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are Schedule IV substances. Depending on the circumstances, possession of marijuana could be a misdemeanor, with a maximum punishment of eleven months and twenty-nine days, up to a Class A felony, depending on the weight involved.
Potential Penalties in Drug Possession Cases
The simple possession statute in Tennessee is straightforward in comparison to other states. Regardless of the type of controlled substance or prescription drugs in the offender’s possession, the charge of simple possession will be the same.
Simple possession of a controlled substance is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by 11 months and 29 days in the county jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. However, when the amount of the substance is more than what would be considered personal use, the charges will become harsher. These offenders will typically face charges of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell. The presence of scales and the drugs separated into multiple bags can be considered evidence of that crime.
Possession with intent to sell a Schedule I through V controlled substance could lead to a felony charge that can result in a maximum prison sentence and a fine of up to $500,000. The type and the amount of the substance in question are two factors that are used to determine the classification of the crime and potential penalties. However, even though most of the problems stem from heroin and illegal fentanyl, distributing prescription drugs can result in felony charges for fraud under federal law.
Increased Punishment for Drug Crimes
There are several laws in Tennessee that are specific to drug possession charges and allow for even greater penalties than those outlined above and illustrate the complexities of defending drug charges.
The prosecution will sometimes charge drug offenses as a conspiracy to commit certain drug offenses. When a case is charged as a conspiracy, the State is alleging that a person acted together with one or more other people to commit a crime or series of crimes. The complex issue with conspiracy cases is that the law allows the State to charge people as being responsible for acts that other people committed. In other words, if your co-conspirator commits a crime in furtherance of the conspiracy, you can be charged with it.
The law also allows you to be charged for other people’s acts, even if you did not know that person or that they were going to commit a crime. In that situation, the State must prove that you had a mutual connection with the third person who committed the crime. Defending a conspiracy case requires careful review of the charges and the evidence so that you are not falsely charged for the act of another person.
Defending Drug Charges: How Can Our Knoxville Drug Crime Lawyers Help?
As a result of the war on drugs, drug charges are often aggressively prosecuted by the State and law enforcement, and the potential penalties are steep. When defending yourself against drug charges, you need an attorney who understands the law and is experienced in fighting these types of cases. It is necessary to thoroughly review the case and attack the State’s evidence to put you in a position to resolve your case with the best outcome possible.
The attorneys at Stephens, DiRado & Caviness, LLP have experience litigating all classes of drug charges and have the knowledge you need. If you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor drug offense, contact us today for your complimentary consultation.