The world, and our society within it, is constantly changing. As we develop as a whole, our views, morals, knowledge, and entire cultures reflect these developments, and that’s great! That being said, not everything goes through these changes and progress at the same time or even in the same way — especially when it comes to the law. Seriously, it takes a LOT for laws to change, and even then it’s usually in incremental, tiny ways.
To those who partake in recreational drugs that have yet to be legalized, this is a frustration you probably know well. Every day news comes out about the medicinal properties of illegal substances and their benefits, but you know taking part could risk your freedom. It sucks, but it is true, and it’s not something you fight by ignoring it. If you get caught, you could indeed be at risk of losing your freedom unless you know how to defend yourself.
Different drug charges and their penalties
“Drug” is an umbrella term, as we know, and so is the term for crimes associated with it. Really, dozens of things could count as a drug crime, especially if there’s a combo pack of charges on the table. Depending on the circumstances around your arrest, you could be charged with possession, selling, intent to sell, using, sharing, thinking about a joint too hard (not really), and more, and all those little categories can rack up quite a bit of legal consequences. That’s why you need to take it seriously — because the court will.
So, know what you’re up against. Here’s a basic rundown of Tennessee drug penalties:
- Marijuana. Yes, we know it’s legal in Washington and California and wherever your buddy Greg lives. However, it’s still illegal here, and you can still get in trouble for it. No matter how unfair you find the law, it still exists. Depending on how much weed you have and what you planned to do with it, you could be facing up to 6 years in prison and $5,000 in fines. That’s the most expensive dime in the world.
- Cocaine. This is a big one. Possession of less than .5 grams is still a felony, and you could face between 8 and 30 years in prison along with $100,000 in fines. There’s nothing witty here — don’t mess with cocaine.
- Methamphetamines. Your first arrest (for possession) could get you a year in prison and a $2,500 fine, but if you’re arrested for delivering, producing, or selling meth, the charges are the same as for cocaine. Thirty years and $100,000. Breaking Bad just wasn’t that good.
- Heroin. These charges are like a mix of the previous two. If you’re charged for a small amount of possession, it’s a misdemeanor (though still not recommended). Anything further than that, especially involving selling, and it’s a felony crime with all the works.
The gist here is that none of these charges are easy, and none of them are ones you can shrug off. A conviction of a drug crime can quite literally change the rest of your life, even if you don’t end up spending three decades behind bars. No future employer or landlord will care about whether or not you’re actually “guilty,” or hearing your side of the story. And that’s not fair, so work to make sure it doesn’t happen.
Protecting your freedom when charged with a drug crime
Cops these days are working harder than ever to arrest those they believe were using drugs. It’s a lot easier for “reasonable suspicion,” which means more and more cops are operating based on circumstantial evidence and assumption. If you are holding it, they will assume it’s yours. If you are near people using it, they will assume you are too. If you smell like it, it won’t matter what state you just travelled in from. Here’s the thing: they’re not always wrong, and that’s what encourages them to continue. Knoxville officers in particular just recently arrested dozens of people for drug-related crimes over the holiday season.
They are on a hot streak, and we can guarantee they want to continue it. But cops, of course, are not judges. They can decide to arrest you and charge you with a crime, but you’re not convicted until the court says so. If you do find yourself facing some sort of drug crime, the best thing to do is start preparing for the court as quickly as you can and as seriously as you can. Act like your life depends on it, because it very well might.
When you choose a trustworthy criminal defense attorney, you are taking the best step possible to protect your rights and your freedom. The sooner they’re hired, the sooner they can get started going through the details of your case and building your defense. While you are involved and informed every step of the way, you have a professional doing the bulk of the hard work for you.
Depending on your specific circumstances, it may not be an option to have the charges completely dropped, but a good attorney knows that’s not the only way they can help. Sentences can be modified or reduced, specific charges may be dropped, and fines may be lowered — because that’s what attorneys are there for. Helping you and preserving your quality of life is what it’s all about.
So if you were recently arrested and charged with a drug-related crime here in Knoxville, you know what to do. The Knoxville criminal defense attorneys at Banks & Jones have years of experience aggressively fighting unjust charges for our clients with the same passion we’d have for our own family. We know how big of a deal this is and we can help you move past it. To discuss what we can do for you in greater detail, call us today at 865-546-2141 or use our contact form.
T. Scott knows the importance of interacting with colleagues to stay abreast of developments and changes in the legal world. T. Scott frequently teaches CLE courses on trial strategy, teaching other lawyers his methods for success in the courtroom, and is certified as a Rule 31 Mediator in the Tennessee Supreme Court. He is a member of the Knoxville Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association, the National Trial Lawyers, and both the Tennessee and American Associations for Justice.
Read more about T.Scott Jones