Penalties for Drug Possession Charges in Memphis



Although Tennessee is one of the few states that has not decriminalized use and possession of marijuana, it does offer slightly reduced marijuana possession penalties for individuals caught with less than 1/2 ounce of marijuana. The first offense is a misdemeanor carrying a mandatory fine of $250 (maximum of $2500). The second time you are caught with a half-ounce or less of marijuana, you are also charged with a misdemeanor but must pay a mandatory fine of $500.

Tennessee’s Governor, Bill Haslam, has eliminated the provision making a third possession of marijuana conviction a felony. In 2016, the governor signed HB 1478, which reduced penalties for a third conviction from a possible one to six years in prison to less than 12 months in jail.

Cultivation and possession of marijuana charges exert different penalties. For example, if you are caught growing more than 10 marijuana plants, you could be charged with a Class E felony and spend one to six years in prison. First time convictions for cultivating marijuana plants also include mandatory fines of $2000.

Methamphetamine Possession Penalties in Tennessee 

First time methamphetamine simple possession charges are designated as Class A misdemeanors in Tennessee. If you are convicted of possessing meth, you could spend a minimum of 30 days in jail  and be ordered to pay $2,500 in fines. A second charge of meth possession is a Class E felony and carries a maximum of six years in prison and a $3,000 fine. Possessing more than 25 grams of meth is a Class B felony carrying fines as high as $200,000 and a lengthy prison time.

Cocaine Possession Penalties 

A first time, simple possession charge for cocaine in Tennessee is a Class A misdemeanor carrying up to 12 months in jail and a maximum fine of $2500. People convicted a second time of cocaine possession are slapped with a Class E felony charge, sentenced to as much as six years in prison and fined $3,000. Also be aware that in Tennessee, you do not have to be in possession of cocaine to be charged with possession. If law enforcement finds cocaine in your home, on your property or simply within your reach, you could have a felony cocaine possession charge placed on your record.

Penalties for Heroin Possession in Tennessee 

First time convictions for heroin possession are Class A misdemeanors punishable by no more than one year in jail and a $2500 fine. However, having prior drug possession convictions means you could have a first-time heroin possession charge increased to a Class E felony carrying up to six years in prison and a maximum of $3000 in fines. Certain jurisdictions allow individuals to have heroin possession cases heard in special drug courts that focus on rehabilitating heroin addicts (mental health/addiction treatment programs, mandatory employment, random drug testing) instead of jailing them. Hiring a criminal attorney will significantly increase the ability for people charged with heroin possession to win their case in drug court.

Charged with a Felony Drug Possession? Here’s What You Need to Know 

Many drug possession cases end in the defendant’s attorney arguing for a plea deal and receiving a plea deal to avoid jail time or to reduce jail time. If you are charged with drug possession in Tennessee, remember you do not have to talk to police, no matter how much they encourage you to discuss the crime. Remain quiet and compliant during the arrest. Always let your attorney handle any communication between you, the courts and law enforcement.

If you are in jail awaiting trial for a felony drug possession case, stay away from trouble as much as possible. Avoid fighting, stealing, hiding contraband and disobeying orders while incarcerated. Developing a bad reputation while in jail before your trial only makes you appear worse in the eyes of a jury and a judge.

Consider whether you would accept a plea deal from the prosecutor. A plea deal means you would agree to admit guilt to a lesser charge and accept the consequences of that plea. Most experienced criminal defense attorneys can get you a decent plea deal (if you can actually be proven guilty of drug possession) and will advise you to take the plea deal.

Initially, a person charged with drug possession and their attorney will appear in court. There, they will be given the affidavit of complaint (if you are in general sessions court) or the indictiment (if you are in criminal court). and the discovery (reports of the case). During arraignment, the lawyer enters a plea of not guilty, may argue for your release on your own recognizance and can request a reduction of the bail amount if it is too high according to the bail factors.

If your case is in general sessions court, the date for a preliminary hearing setting is then scheduled, which gives the defendant’s attorney a chance to resolve the case through plea bargaining. If the case is not resolved at this time, then another date is set for the preliminary hearing.

Preliminary hearings for drug possession cases are probable cause hearings. The attorney, the person charged and the district attorney are present at the probable cause hearing. At this time, the DA will present any evidence showing that there is just cause for the client to be convicted of a felony drug possession charge and present it to the presiding judge or magistrate. If the judge finds probable cause, the case will be “bound over” to the action of the grand jury for indictment.

A drug possession felony case may go to a jury trial if the person charged and their attorney decide to reject plea deals and plead not guilty. There are only three outcomes to a jury trial: acquittal, a guilty verdict (of the charged offense or a lesser included offense) or mistrial.

Get Legal Help for Drug Possession Charges in Tennessee 

Call the Hamilton Law Firm Today at (901) 512-2287  if you or someone you know is facing a drug possession charge in Tennessee. Getting legal assistance as soon as possible is imperative to achieving the best outcome for any type of drug possession charge.