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When does drug possession become a felony?

| Nov 28, 2017 | Uncategorized |

Drugs are a serious problem in the state of Tennessee. In fact, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reports that nearly 80 percent of all crimes committed in the state are somehow related to drugs of some kind. 

There are numerous factors involved with drug charges, including the type of illegal substance in question as well as how much the police locate. In some cases, drug possession charges merely carry the misdemeanor label while others will instantly qualify as a felony. 


If a person possesses less than half an ounce of marijuana, then he or she will receive misdemeanor charges. This typically carries a maximum jail sentence of one year and a maximum fine of $250 for a first offense. However, if the person in question has more than half an ounce, then the police may assume the person had the intent to distribute and sell the substance. Sale of drugs is a felony charge. The maximum prison sentence increases based on the amount of marijuana, and possessing 10 pounds of marijuana could come with a maximum prison sentence of 12 years in Tennessee. 


Simple possession of cocaine in Tennessee can count as a Class A misdemeanor as long as it is a first offense. In the event the person has a criminal record consisting of previous cocaine possession, then the charge can increase to a Class F felony. 


Similar standards are in place for heroin possession. When a person has less than half an ounce of heroin, it is a Class A misdemeanor unless the person has a criminal history involving heroin. For a subsequent offense, the charges increase to felony. 

Simple possession refers to when a person holds an illegal substance but only intends on using it for personal use. When a person has a large quantity of an illegal substance, the police may view that as possession with intent to sell, which comes with harsher penalties. Those charges become even more likely if the affected person has materials at his or her house, such as a scale and packaging materials, which also suggest the person plans on selling the drugs.