While it may seem like a simple drug charge, any type of offense may come with serious outcomes.
Many individuals are unaware of how easily drug-related crimes can escalate to felony status, even if the circumstances are unintentional.
1. Type of drug charge
The classification of your charge depends on various factors, including the type and amount of the drug involved. Possessing a controlled substance, such as marijuana, cocaine, or prescription drugs without a valid prescription, is typically a Class A misdemeanor for first-time offenders. However, if found in possession of a significant quantity of the substance, it can quickly turn into a felony charge.
2. Drug manufacturing or distribution
Engaging in drug manufacturing or distribution is a serious offense in Tennessee. Even some first-time offenses involving the production or sale of controlled substances are a felony, usually falling into the Class C or D felony categories.
3. Drug-free school zones
Tennessee has strict laws concerning drug offenses within drug-free school zones. If caught with drugs within 1,000 feet of a school, park, or daycare center, your charge can automatically become a felony, regardless of the type or amount of the substance involved.
3. Aggravating factors
Certain aggravating factors can significantly increase the severity of a drug charge. Being in possession of a firearm at the time of your arrest or trafficking drugs across state lines, for example, can result in your offense elevating to a felony.
4. Repeat offenses
Repeat drug offenders face harsher penalties in Tennessee. A second or subsequent drug offense is more likely classified as a felony, even if the initial charges were misdemeanors.
Every year, 1.16 million arrests involve possessing, selling, or manufacturing illegal substances. While every outcome is different, a conviction comes with long-lasting consequences.