They’re offenses that may not seem like a big deal — having a little bit of marijuana, using someone else’s prescription medication, and more. But in Tennessee, individuals can find themselves in serious trouble for even the most minor drug offense. Below we outline some of the most common drug offenses in The Volunteer State and what options are available for those charged with these crimes.
Most Common Drug Offenses
Tennessee’s Bureau of Investigation notes that 80% of crimes in the state are correlated with drug offenses, whether through drug use or abuse. In particular, investigators are concerned about two types of drugs — meth and heroin.
Officials estimate that around 800 methamphetamine labs are operating in the state at any given time. Investigators say that this drug is dangerous and potentially deadly to those who use it, but it costs the state thousands of dollars to destroy a single lab.
When focusing on heroin, officials’ primary concern is the drug being laced with other narcotics, such as fentanyl, where even the smallest dose can be fatal. Other common narcotics investigators frequently handle cases involving include:
- Oxycodone; and,
Additionally, law enforcement investigates drug crimes involving prescription drugs. The same report from Tennessee’s Bureau of Investigation found that the state is ranked third in the nation for prescription drug abuse. Other statistics by the organization found 5% of Tennesseans admitted or were found to use pain relievers for non-medical purposes and 70% of those individuals said they got the pain relievers from a friend or relative.
The concerns of using any illegal drug or not prescribed to the intended individual include overdoses, deaths, increased emergency room care, and children being put in state custody because their parent or parents are incarcerated for the alleged crimes.
Consequences for Drug Crimes
The potential punishment for a drug crime depends on five general factors:
- Possession - was the individual using the drug for personal use?
- Possession With Intent - did the individual have possession with the intent to distribute?
- Manufacturing - was the individual making the drug or altering the original drug?
- Sale - was the individual looking to sell the drug to others?
- Trafficking - was the individual selling to others so that they could distribute the drug?
A simple possession charge, meaning someone has a small amount of a controlled substance for personal use, is typically a misdemeanor offense. This includes marijuana, as it is not legal in Tennesse for medical or recreational use. Those who are charged with simple possession could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Those who possess a controlled substance with the intent to distribute or sell will usually face a much more serious consequence — typically a felony. Depending on the quantity of the narcotic will determine the classification of the felony. For example, controlled substances of the below amounts will be classified as follows:
- ½ ounce to 10 pounds — Class E Felony (one to six years incarceration and a fine of up to $3,000)
- 10 pounds to 70 pounds — Class D felony (two to 12 years incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000)
- 70 to 300 pounds — Class C felony (three to 15 years incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000)
- 300 pounds or more — Class B felony (eight to 30 years incarceration and a fine of up to $25,000)
Sale, Trafficking, and Manufacturing Charges
For these crimes, consequences are determined by the type of drug that is being handled and are considered felony charges. Controlled substances are categorized by Schedules (I-V). Schedule V, Schedule IV, and Schedule III drugs include anything from prescription Tylenol, Xanax, and steroids. These Schedules carry a punishment of a minimum of one-year incarceration to up to ten years.
Schedule II and Schedule I drugs are considered more serious and addictive. These types of controlled substances include methamphetamine, opiates, and heroin. Someone convicted of this will face a minimum of five years in prison and up to 30 years. If the crime results in the serious injury or death of someone else, the defendant will be incarcerated for a minimum of 20 years.
Drug Crime Attorneys in Johnson City
As you can see, drug crime offenses can result in life-altering consequences. If you are accused of this crime, you need a knowledgeable criminal defense team working for you.
The Johnson City attorneys at Meade Law Group are ready for your case. With our experienced team, you can feel confident that we will do everything possible to get you the best result for your situation. Reach out to us online or by phone. (423) 464-7779