Like every other state, Tennessee has some very detailed laws on the books concerning the illegal possession of drugs for personal use. While you are more than likely aware of this fact, you may not be entirely clear on how these laws work.
In today's post, we'll seek to rectify this by briefly exploring what these state laws have to say concerning this relatively common -- and relatively serious -- criminal offense.
When it comes to the crime of possession, does the state simply lump all substances together?
No. State law is actually set up in such a way that illegal drugs -- referred to as controlled dangerous substances -- are divided into seven separate listings or "schedules" based on recognized medical use, and probability of addiction/abuse.
How exactly do these CDS schedules work?
For example, Schedule I controlled dangerous substances are those that have no recognized medical use, and a high probability of addiction/abuse. On the other end of the spectrum, Schedule VI controlled dangerous substances are those that have a widely accepted medical use and a relatively low probability of addiction/abuse.
In other words, the lower the number of the controlled dangerous substance schedule, the less dangerous it is, and the less likely it will be abused or become the cause of addiction.
How do these CDS schedules work in relation to simple possession charges?
In general, the CDS schedules are more of a factor when you've been charged with drug crimes relating to sales, manufacture or distribution. Indeed, Tennessee law treats both first and second convictions for illegal possession of controlled dangerous substances without a valid prescription as a class A misdemeanor and all subsequent convictions as class E felonies.
What are the punishments associated with a conviction for a class A misdemeanor and a class E felony?
A class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of $2,500, while a class E felony is punishable by anywhere from a minimum of one year to a maximum of six years in prison, and/or a fine of up to $3,000.
It should also be noted that any conviction for simple possession will also require service work at a drug or alcohol rehab center, and/or attendance at drug offender school.
If you have any question or concerns regarding drug charges, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.