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Drug charges can have serious legal and personal ramifications. If you find yourself facing them, you will likely fear their impact on your livelihood and reputation. Yet, you may be able to mitigate their effect by learning about Tennessee’s drug penalties. Understanding these can help you prepare for any potential consequences you could face.

Understanding Tennessee’s possession penalties

In Tennessee, the penalties for first-time simple possession offenses are the same for all drugs. No matter the substance in question, including marijuana, you will receive a Class A misdemeanor charge. This charge could come with a prison sentence of up to one year, as well as a fine of up to $2,500. If you commit a second offense you will likely receive felony charges instead. The exception to this rule is if the offense involves marijuana. In this case, you will not receive felony charges unless you possess more than half an ounce. If you are caught with more than half an ounce of any substance, you may receive felony charges and a longer sentence.

Understanding Tennessee’s distribution penalties

Sale and distribution offenses have heftier consequences than possession and purchasing offenses. Yet, their severity depends upon the schedule of the substance the offense relates to. Tennessee recognizes seven different drug schedules. Substances under schedule I and II have a high risk of abuse, whereas those under schedules III through V have a lower risk of abuse. Schedule VI includes marijuana, and schedule VII consists solely of butyl nitrate.

Selling or distributing substances under schedules III through V is a felony. This offense could carry consequences that include a prison sentence between one and 10 years. And it could also include fines, the suspension of your driver’s license and forfeiture of your property. The sentencing period increases to between five to 30 years for substances under schedules I and II. Second offenses involving schedule I and II substances can come with sentences between 10 and 40 years. And depending on the substance in question, the amount in question and any aggravating factors, it could lead to a life prison sentence instead.

Understanding your options

Even first-time drug offenses can come with significant penalties in Tennessee. By understanding the consequences of the charges you’re facing, you can take the steps you need to protect yourself. An attorney with criminal defense experience can help you weigh your options moving forward.