Tennessee prosecutors can file numerous different charges against those accused of possessing, transporting, selling or manufacturing certain substances. Drug laws in Tennessee both prohibit the possession of numerous substances and also impose strict restrictions on the possession and use of other substances.
Anyone arrested while possessing prohibited drugs or while in possession of prescription medication without a doctor’s recommendation could end up facing significant penalties depending on what charge the prosecutor files against them. Of the numerous drug offenses possible under Tennessee law, simple possession is the least severe and carries the mildest penalties.
Simple possession means one of two distinct acts
Tennessee law allows prosecutors to bring simple possession charges in two particular scenarios. The first scenario is the one that people likely picture when thinking about a possession offense. Anyone caught knowingly in possession of the controlled or prohibited substance will face simple possession charges in most cases.
In fact, a small transaction where someone sells marijuana to another person could even lead to possession charges under Tennessee law. If the total weight of the marijuana transferred is half an ounce or less, the person will face simple possession charges instead of a sales-related charge. In most cases, simple possession will lead to Class A misdemeanor charges. The defendant could face up to a year in state custody and $2,500 in fines.
When the state might pursue more serious charges
There are numerous reasons why the state might choose to pursue with intent or a sales-related charge instead of a simple possession offense.
In scenarios where law enforcement officers catch someone with a very high amount of a drug or numerous different drugs and possibly the paraphernalia used to weigh or separate those drugs for individual use might lead to more serious charges. Someone’s prior criminal record, especially when it comes to prior substance-related defenses, may also motivate prosecutors to pursue more serious charges rather than simple possession charges.
Given that even “mere” possession can mean thousands of dollars in fines and up to a year in prison, those accused of a drug offense in Tennessee generally benefit from seeking legal guidance and attempting to avoid a conviction. Defending against drug charges in Tennessee may feel like a challenge but can be a worthwhile endeavor for those who don’t want to serve time in state custody and live their lives with a criminal record.