Drug Charges In Tennessee
The state of Tennessee treats drug crimes harshly, especially if you are charged with more severe crimes like trafficking, manufacturing or distribution. Even if you are facing simple possession charges, you can expect state prosecutors to treat you like a criminal and to attempt to punish you as severely as possible. Tennessee does not go easy on those charged with drug crimes, making it vital that you contact our firm if you have been arrested or are facing drug charges.
Please contact the team at the Hamilton Law Firm immediately if you or a loved one have been charged with a drug crime. We are standing by to answer your questions and to get started on building your defense. The time to act is now.
Tennessee adopts similar drug classifications as the federal government, so you can expect possession of any substance on the federal Controlled Substances Act to put you at risk of criminal charges. Controlled substances in Tennessee include:
- Prescription narcotics
Drug crimes in Tennessee include:
- Simple possession (including drugs and drug paraphernalia)
- Possession with intent to sell
- Cultivation (such as growing cannabis or coca leaves)
- Prescription fraud
The least severe drug charge in Tennessee is simple possession. Simple possession means you are in possession of one or more drugs, but you do not have enough of the drug to meet the minimum requirements for the courts to charge you with a felony. Simple possession is considered a Class A misdemeanor, which carries penalties that include up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. Conviction may also lead to a requirement to take a drug education class.
The unfortunate thing about simple possession charges is that you do not have to be the owner or user of the drugs to get charged with a crime. The police only have to find the drug or drug paraphernalia on your property – like in your car or your house – to link you with the controlled substance and charge you with a crime.
While a simple possession charge is less severe than other drug charges, it is still a criminal charge carrying harsh penalties. Conviction is not only inconvenient, it can be expensive, lead to time behind bars and put a mark on your record that is difficult to escape. An experienced defense attorney will know how to obtain a favorable deal, which could include dismissal of the charges, even if you could be found guilty of simple possession.
Possession With Intent To Sell
To determine whether you are intending to sell a controlled substance, law enforcement will typically look at the amount of the substance you have in your possession. The assumption is that if you have more of a substance than a normal person would keep for personal use, you intend to sell the substance. If you have a significant amount of any controlled substance, you can expect the court to try and prove that you were intending to sell it and to punish you accordingly.
If you have other items that can aid in drug sales, including baggies, scales and large amounts of cash, it can also increase the chances of you being charged with possession with intent to sell.
Possession with intent to sell does not guarantee you will be charged with a felony. To charge you with a felony the state must show that you had intent to sell, which can be challenging – especially if you were not selling the substance. However, if the state can prove your intent, you will face much harsher penalties, like losing your voting privileges, your ability to work in certain jobs and more.
You can be charged with manufacturing if you were making or preparing any controlled substance, ranging from methamphetamine to cocaine to marijuana. If the prosecution can prove that you were manufacturing a controlled substance, you can expect at least a year behind bars – even if you did not intend to sell the substance. Manufacturing methamphetamine is punished probably the most harshly, as the substance is arguably the biggest drug problem in the state.
Even the most minor manufacturing conviction will possibly result in heavy fines, suspension of your driving privileges, community service and more.
Drug trafficking can include the production, sale, transportation and distribution of a controlled substance. A drug trafficking conviction will carry harsh penalties, as there are federally mandated minimum penalties for trafficking that the court must comply with. Even if the court wants to deliver a lighter penalty, it will not be able to do so. The penalties for drug trafficking usually include long prison time and heavy fines.
Drug trafficking charges can be made worse under certain circumstances, like if you were arrested close to a school, or if you were transporting drugs across state lines. The penalties also vary depending on what drugs were involved. Drug trafficking charges involving marijuana are often less severe than those involving cocaine, for instance.
Marijuana cultivation is big business in Tennessee. Although it is illegal, that has not stopped numerous growers from attempting to make money and serve the demands of buyers in both Tennessee and other states. Tennessee treats marijuana cultivators harshly, based on both state and federal law. You can be charged not only if you were taking part in cultivation, but even if you just have some of the components in your possession that allow for the cultivation of marijuana – like seeds or hydroponic equipment.
To determine the size of your grow operation, law enforcement can count even parts of plants as whole plants. You may only be growing a dozen plants, for instance, but if law enforcement can find additional seeds, stems, etc., it can claim that you had many, many more.
Selling anything above a half ounce of marijuana or possessing more than a half ounce with the intent to sell can result in a felony charge, with minimum jail time. The more marijuana in your possession, the more severe the penalties.
Drug Charges Carry Severe Penalties
It is important to understand that drug charges are often treated with a severity that is rarely found with other crimes. The state of Tennessee may try a range of punishments if you are convicted of a drug crime, including suspending your license, seizing your property, jail or prison time, heavy fines, probation and community service.
Repeated drug convictions significantly amplify the penalties that the state can hand down. While even a first-time conviction can bring severe penalties, second and more numerous convictions can make things much, much worse.
Contact an Experienced Memphis Drug Charges Lawyer
As criminal defense attorneys, we understand better than most just how much risk you face when you are charged with drug crimes. You do not have to be a hardened criminal to be treated like one when it comes to drug offenses. There are few situations where you need a skilled attorney more than in a drug case.
If you or someone you love has been charged with drug crimes in Tennessee or federal court, please contact our firm as soon as you are able. We are here to provide competent, compassionate and effective legal services to ensure that your rights are protected and you get the best possible results from your case.