Over the last several decades, since the “War on Drugs” began, both the federal and individual state governments have worked to pass legislation strengthening drug related laws and increasing the penalties for a violation of those laws. If you were recently arrested for a drug related offense in the State of Tennessee, you are likely facing a lengthy term of imprisonment if convicted. AS such, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your future is to consult with an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
At the Tennessee law firm of Bennett & Michael we understand that you are likely worried about the outcome of your case. You may also be frustrated trying to navigate the criminal justice system. Given the personal nature of a criminal prosecution, specific questions or concerns about your case should be discussed directly with an experienced criminal defense attorney; however, we have prepared some general answers to the most frequently asked questions relating to drug crimes and the criminal justice system. If you have additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the criminal defense attorneys at Bennett & Michael.
1. What kind of penalties do I face for a marijuana conviction in Nebraska?
Although marijuana is listed as a controlled substance, most states treat it differently than other controlled substances, such as cocaine or heroin. Tennessee is one of those states. Possession of a small amount (less than half an ounce) of marijuana is a misdemeanor on the first and second offense, the punishment for which is no more than one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. Possession for the third time, possession of larger amounts, or selling marijuana are all felony offenses that carry considerably harsher penalties for a conviction.
2. What are the penalties for possession, sale, or trafficking in other controlled substances in Tennessee?
The penalties for drug offenses that involves a controlled substance other than marijuana can vary considerably depending on a number of factors, such as:
- Whether the offense involved possession for personal use or the sale/transport of the controlled substance.
- The quantity of drugs involved
- The defendant’s previous criminal conviction (or lack there of)
- Whether the defendant cooperated with the police
- Whether there were aggravating factors such as proximity to a school or a transaction that involved minors.
3. Can I still be convicted of a crime if I had a prescription?
People often think that simply having a prescription for a controlled substance means they cannot be convicted of a crime involving that controlled substance. The reality, however, is that you could still be convicted of a crime if, for example, you were in possession of more than you should have, you sold/gave some to someone else, or the pills you had were a different dosage than what you were prescribed.
4. Can I get a conviction for a drug offense expunged in Tennessee?
Fortunately, Tennessee is one of a number of states that does offer the possibility of having a criminal conviction expunged, or erased from your public record, if you qualify. As a general rule, misdemeanor convictions for possession of a controlled substance are eligible as well as some less serious felony convictions.
5. If I was caught trafficking drugs in Tennessee will I face federal charges?
In the United States, a criminal offense can be charged at the federal level, the state level, or both. Almost all minor drug related offenses are handled in state court. Federal law enforcement agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), focus on bigger operations, such as trafficking rings that smuggle drugs in from out of the country. If you were caught with a large quantity of a controlled substance, there is a chance that the federal authorities will want to talk to you.
6. I was caught with drugs on me. Now the police want me to cooperate in order to get my charges dismissed. What should I do?
This is a common law enforcement tactic – catch a “small fish” and use him/her to get to the larger fish. There are two important reasons why you should not jump at an offer to dismiss your charges in exchange for your cooperation. First, you need a criminal defense attorney to negotiate an actual deal for you instead of just taking a police officer’s word for it. Second, there are often consequences to cooperating that you need to consider.
7. The police searched my house without my permission and found drugs. Can I get the search thrown out?
The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that a warrant be obtained before the police conduct a search and seizure of your home unless one of the narrow exceptions to the warrant requirement applies. Consent is the most commonly used exception; however, one of the other exception could apply. If none of the exceptions apply though, your criminal defense attorney may be able to get the search excluded and any evidence seized during the search declared to be inadmissible at trial.
8. What are some common defenses to drug charges?
Every criminal prosecution presents a unique set of facts and circumstances. There are, however, some commonly used defenses in drug cases, such as:
- The drugs aren’t the defendant’s.
- The evidence was obtained illegally.
- The informant is not reliable.
If you have been arrested and charged with a drug crime in the State of Tennessee, you need an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney on your side immediately to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the prosecution of your case. Contact the team at Bennett & Michael today by calling 615-410-2454 to schedule your appointment.