Simple Possession of Drugs

The Crime

In Tennessee, a person may be convicted of the crime of Simple Possession of a Drug if the state prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the person:

  1. Knew they were in possession of a controlled substance; AND
  2. Possessed or casually exchanged a controlled substance (example of casual exchange: two friends pass a marijuana cigarette / “joint” back and forth at a party).

[Source: Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-17-418]

The Penalties

A conviction for Simple Possession, first offense, is a Class A Misdemeanor and may result in some or all of the following consequences:

  1. A sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days in jail;
  2. A probationary period;
  3. A fine; and
  4. Court costs.

Tennessee law specifies mandatory minimum fines for a Simple Possession conviction. The amount of the fine depends upon the type of drug and the number of prior convictions for this offense:

  • Simple Possession of Marijuana (Schedule VI drug):
    • 1st conviction – $250.00
    • 2nd conviction – $500.00
    • 3rd or subsequent conviction – $1,000.00
  • Simple Possession of a scheduled controlled substance other than Marijuana (such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, as well as unprescribed Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Xanax, etc.):
    • 1st conviction – $750.00
    • 2nd conviction – $850.00
    • 3rd or subsequent conviction – $1,000.00

[Source: Tennessee Code Annotated §§ 39-17-418, 39-17-428]

Other Consequences of a Simple Possession of Drugs Conviction

In addition to the court-mandated penalties described above, a person convicted of Simple Possession may also experience other serious consequences. A Simple Possession conviction may result in the suspension or expulsion from schools, loss of college scholarships or the ability to seek admission to a higher learning institution.

Except in rare circumstances a conviction for Simple Possession will ALWAYS stay on a person’s public record. This means that current and future employers may access records of prior convictions. Moreover, even though a person’s first and second convictions for Simple Possession are misdemeanors, a third conviction in Tennessee for Simple Possession is a Class E Felony that may result in a sentence of up to 6 years in prison.

Why Hire An Attorney Immediately?

It is important to act quickly in order to gather and preserve favorable evidence. Key evidence (faces, dates, events, and conversations) fades from memory over time. Certain witnesses need to be interviewed as soon as possible. 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 Attorney in only a few hours or days after an arrest is made.

Contact Us Today

If you or someone you know has recently been arrested, 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.

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