In recent years, both law enforcement and the news media have appeared to focus on what has become known as the “opioid crisis” in the United States. That does not mean, however, that other drugs have disappeared from the American landscape. Cocaine has been around for over a century, and continues to be used by millions of Americans despite the potential penalties if found in possession of the drug. Like most states, Tennessee imposes different penalties for cocaine related offenses depending on whether the defendant appears to be a user or a dealer. If you are currently facing charges involving the possession of cocaine, or you are the loved one of someone who is, the criminal defense attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby have put together some helpful information so that you can better understand the statutes and the corresponding penalties.
- Cocaine Laws in Tennessee — Basics
- Cocaine is a scheduled controlled substance in the State of Tennessee.
- Classified as a Scheduled II controlled substance, specifically:
- Coca leaves (DEA Drug Code No. 9040) and any salt, compound, derivative or preparation of coca leaves (including cocaine (DEA Drug Code No. 9041) and ecgonine (DEA Drug Code No. 9180) and their salts, isomers, derivatives and salts of isomers and derivatives), and any salt, compound, derivative, or preparation thereof that is chemically equivalent or identical with any of these substances, except that the substances shall not include decocainized coca leaves or extraction of coca leaves, which extractions do not contain cocaine or ecgonine
- Cocaine Fact and Figures
- Cocaine remains the 2nd most popular illicit recreational drug in this country behind cannabis
- According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) in 2012, nearly 4.7 million Americans aged 12 or older reported using cocaine in the past year, and almost 38 million reported ever using cocaine in their lifetime.
- The Monitoring the Future survey of drug use in adolescents found the rate of cocaine use among high schools seniors has fallen over the last 15 years and stood at 2.6% in 2014, the lowest percentage since the survey began in 1975.
- Possession of Cocaine
- Tennessee Code 39-17-418 governs simple possession or casual exchange of a controlled substance
- It is illegal to “knowingly possess or casually exchange a controlled substance”
- Charged as a Class A misdemeanor
- Carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail
- May also be required to complete drug offender school, if available, or may be required to perform community service work at a drug or alcohol rehabilitation or treatment center.
- Can be enhanced to a Class E felony if the exchange was made by an adult to a minor
- Class E Felony carries a maximum of two years in prison and up to a $50,000 fine.
- Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute
- Tennessee Code 39-17-417 governs the manufacture, delivery, or sale of a controlled substance as well as possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture, deliver or sell the controlled substance.
- Less than point five (0.5) grams is charged as a Class C felony which carries up to 15 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.
- Unless, the defendant carried or employed a deadly weapon as defined in § 39-11-106, during commission of the offense or the offense resulted in death or bodily injury to another person. In that case, less than 0.5 grams is a Class B felony.
- More than 0.5 grams but less than 26 grams is charged as a Class B felony and carries up to 30 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.
- More than 26 grams but less than 300 grams is charged as a Class B felony and carries up to 30 years in prison and up to a $200,000 fine.
- 300 grams or more is charged as a Class A felony and carries up to 60 years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine.
- Possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute where the intended recipient of the cocaine is under 18 years of age is punished one classification higher.
If you have additional questions or concerns about cocaine related criminal offenses in the State of Tennessee, please feel free to contact the criminal defense lawyers at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.