Tennessee Drug Charges

In the State of Tennessee there are generally two categories of drug offenses:

    • Misdemeanor simple possession of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia, and
    • Felony drug offenses which include:
      • manufacturing of a controlled substance
      • delivery of a controlled substance
      • selling a controlled substance
      • possession of a controlled substance with the intent to manufacture, sell or deliver
      • conspiracy

 

 

When Do Drug Charges Become Felonies?

Felony drug offenses range from Class E felonies carrying one to six years to Class A felonies carrying fifteen to sixty years. The class of felony depends upon the type of drug, the amount of drug, and the location in which the individual possessed the drugs. Often times the consequences between misdemeanor Simple Possession of a Controlled Substance and felony Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell or Deliver can be drastic.

 

Misdemeanor Simple Possession versus Felony Possession with Intent

Circumstances which indicated simple possession of a controlled substance can include:

      • the amount of the drugs
      • paraphernalia indicative of drug usage
      • the manner in which the drugs are packaged

 

Factors that prosecutors will argue show possession with intent to sell or deliver are:

      • the amount of the drugs
      • the possession of large amounts of money with the drugs
      • the possession of scales or other drug paraphernalia indicating sale
      • circumstantial evidence located on cell phones in the form of text messages indicating sale or delivery
      • the manner in which the drugs are packaged

 

Both simple possession of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver require the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the Defendant possessed the drugs. There are two types of possession within the State of Tennessee:

      • actual possession
      • constructive possession

 

A person who knowingly has direct physical control over an object at a given time is then in actual possession of it. A person who, although not in actual possession, knowingly has both the power and intention at a given time to exercise dominion and control over an object, either directly or through others, is then in constructive possession of it.

 

The mere presence in the area where drugs are found, or in mere association with the person in control of the drugs or property where the drugs are located, is not sufficient to convict a person of possession of a controlled substance.

 

It is also important to note that a hand to hand transaction of drugs does not automatically constitute a felony. Tennessee law holds that “casual exchange” among individuals of a small amount of drugs is not always a felony. Further, misdemeanor casual exchange does not exclude a transaction in which money was involved.

 

Defending drug offenses is often heavily dependent upon police conduct relating to search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects individuals against unlawful search or seizure by police. Regardless of your type of case, a thorough examination of all constitutional search and seizure issues is critical.

 

Hagan & Todd represents defendants in state and federal court on all narcotics and controlled substance offenses. Hagan & Todd utilizes over 15 years of experience as prosecutors to challenge all aspects of the State’s case in drug offenses.