The Crime

In Tennessee, a person may be convicted of the crime of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia if the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the person used or Possessed with the Intent to Use Drug Paraphernalia in order to:

  • “Plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body” a controlled substance (drugs/narcotics).

[Source: Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-17-425]

What is Drug Paraphernalia?

Drug paraphernalia is defined in Tennessee as all equipment, products and materials of any kind that are used or will be employed to grow, make, or use a controlled substance (drugs/narcotics).

Otherwise legal items like rolling papers, soft drink cans, spoons, pill crushers, pens, etc. may be considered to be drug paraphernalia in certain circumstances.  As a result, possession of drug paraphernalia will frequently be charged in addition to a charge for Possession of Drugs.  Items considered to be drug paraphernalia are often found in association with the following drugs:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Amphetamines
  • Methamphetamine
  • Barbiturates
  • Unprescribed medication such as Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Xanax (alprazolam), and Klonopin (clonazepam)

[Source: Tennessee Code Annotated §§ 39-17-402, 39-17-424]

The Penalties

A conviction for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia for personal use in Tennessee is a Class A Misdemeanor and may result in some or all of the following penalties:

1)    A sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days in jail;

2)    A probationary period;

3)    A fine of up to $2,500.00; and

4)    Court costs.

Tennessee law specifies mandatory minimum fines for a Possession of Drug Paraphernalia conviction that depend upon the number of prior convictions for this offense:

  • 1st conviction – $150.00 fine
  • 2nd or subsequent conviction – $250.00 fine

[Source: Tennessee Code Annotated §§ 39-17-425, 39-17-428]

Other Consequences of a Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Conviction

In addition to the court-mandated penalties described above, a person convicted of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia may also experience serious collateral (other) consequences. A Possession of Drug Paraphernalia conviction may result in the loss of college scholarships or the ability to seek admission to a higher learning institution.  A conviction may also impact one’s ability to maintain or seek employment, and result in negative action to a professional license (e.g., nursing).

Except in rare circumstances a conviction for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia will ALWAYS stay on a person’s public record (criminal history).  This means that current and future employers may access records of Tennessee criminal convictions.  For more information about Tennessee expungement law, you may wish to review the information contained on our sister website, http://www.eraseyourrecord.com/index.html.

Why Hire a Lawyer Immediately?

It is important to act quickly in order to gather and preserve favorable evidence.  Certain witnesses need to be interviewed as soon as possible.  Key evidence (faces, dates, events, and conversations) fades from memory over time.  Also, video recordings and other evidence may be destroyed.  Therefore, it is critical to begin an investigation as soon as possible to ensure valuable evidence is not lost.  Success or failure in any criminal case may be determined in the decisions of the defendant and his or her Tennessee Criminal Defense Attorney in only a few hours or days after an arrest.

Contact Us Today

If you or someone you know has recently been charged, contact the Oberman & Rice Law Firm today so that we can begin preparing a defense for your case. Submit your information for a free case evaluation from our Knoxville criminal defense attorneys or call our office at 865-249-7200.