Social attitudes about drugs have shifted drastically in recent decades. Long gone are the days when the average person assumes that anyone involved with drug use or the drug trade is an inherently bad person. Society has become much more accepting both of casual drug use and of the struggles experienced by those with serious addiction issues.
However, the law has not changed as rapidly as the attitudes of members of the public. Those arrested for drug offenses in Tennessee may still face very serious consequences.
When someone pleads guilty to a drug offense or the courts convict them, a judge will then hand down a sentence based on the circumstances and current state law. Overall, the penalties depend largely on the type of drugs involved, how much they weighed and what the state believes someone intended to do with those drugs.
Anyone accused of simple possession for having very small amounts of certain drugs could face Class A misdemeanor charges that carry up to 11 months and 29 days of jail time and fines of as much as $2,500. Charges related to the sale of drugs or possession with intent to sell them will result in felony charges. The degree of the felony charge will vary on the weight of the drugs, but maximum penalties for those with 300 pounds or more of drugs could include up to 30 years in prison. Even those with just half an ounce could face between one and six years in prison.
A criminal record
Even in scenarios involving simple possession or low-level felony charges, the people accused of drug offenses have to think about the long-term impact of those allegations on their future opportunities. It’s common for parties including educational institutions, employers and landlords to perform criminal background checks whenever someone applies for housing, enrollment or a new job. Criminal records related to drugs can have a major chilling effect on someone’s social mobility and career advancement. That record may continue to follow someone for years, even if they only ever make a single mistake that violates state or federal law.
Although the idea of going to criminal court intimidates many people, avoiding a conviction is often better than pleading guilty and hoping that a judge will be lenient. Learning more about what happens to those convicted of drug crimes in Tennessee might inspire someone to fight back against allegations made by the state.