As many of our Nashville Criminal Defense Attorney blog readers know, Tennessee’s reputation for being tough on crime is well-earned. The state’s harsh sentencing guidelines can mean that someone charged with a felony can face a minimum of one year in prison all the way up to life behind bars and even the death penalty for capital crimes.
In this blog post, we’ll look at sentencing guidelines facing those who are charged with a felony crime, as well as the guidelines for misdemeanor offenses.
Tennessee’s six felony classes
The Tennessee Criminal Code has six classes of felonies that represent the severity of the crime and the severity of the sentence, ranging from Class E, the least severe, to Capital offenses, the most severe.
- Class E: sentencing ranges from a minimum of one year behind bars to a maximum of six years in prison. The maximum fine is $3,000.
- Class D: sentencing ranges from a minimum of two years to a maximum of 12 years in prison. The maximum fine is $5,000.
- Class C: sentencing ranges from a minimum of three years in prison to a maximum of 15 years. The maximum fine is $10,000.
- Class B: sentencing ranges from a minimum of eight years to a maximum of 30 years in a state penitentiary. The maximum fine is $25,000.
- Class A: sentencing ranges from a minimum of 15 years in prison to a maximum of 60 years. The maximum fine is $50,000.
- Capital crimes: includes first-degree murder and felony murder. Sentencing includes life in prison without the possibility of parole and death.
Three classes of misdemeanors
State law also divides misdemeanors into classes. Class C is the least severe category of crime and punishment and Class A is the most severe.
- Class C: the maximum punishment is up to 30 days in jail or a fine of up to $50 – or both.
- Class B: the maximum is up to six months in jail or a fine of up to $500 – or both.
- Class A: the maximum is up to 11 months and 29 days in jail or a fine of up to $2,500 – or both.
There’s no doubt that the numbers listed above can be intimidating. Discuss the ranges within each class with a skilled criminal defense attorney who can often get charges reduced in negotiations or even dropped – or fight for your acquittal in court.