Drug crimes cover a wide range of offenses involving controlled substances, from possession and sale to manufacture and distribution. These crimes involve violations of federal law, state law, or both. These offenses can result in a broad range of potential criminal and administrative consequences, including probation, prison, property forfeiture and participation in a court-ordered drug treatment program.

Though more severe charges typically result in harsher penalties, even less serious charges, such as possession of a small amount of a controlled substance, may have severe consequences, especially if the defendant has prior convictions, used a firearm in the commission of the crime, engaged in criminal activity near a protected zone (such as a school or park) or involved minors in the crime. If you have been charged with a drug crime, contact The Law Office of James M. Marshall in Spring Hill, Tennessee, today to schedule a consultation with a criminal defense attorney to discuss your legal options.

Federal and state drug laws

The federal government has exercised control over the importation and manufacture of drugs since the mid-1800s. In 1970, Congress passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, which classified controlled substances into five categories (Schedules I to V), based on their abuse and addiction potential compared to their therapeutic value. Also known as the Controlled Substances Act, this law established regulatory requirements, enforcement mechanisms and penalties for the unauthorized manufacture, distribution or possession of controlled substances.

Drugs are listed in different categories, with Schedule I drugs penalties being the most severe to Schedule V drug penalties being the least severe:
  • Schedule I: Have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD and marijuana.
  • Schedule II: Have a high potential for abuse and severe dependence, but have a currently accepted medical use. Schedule II drugs include PCP, cocaine, methadone and methamphetamine.
  • Schedule III: Have less potential for abuse than Schedule II drugs, a potential for moderate dependency and an accepted medical use. Anabolic steroids and codeine fall into this category
  • Schedule IV: Have less potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs, a limited potential for dependency and are accepted in medical treatment. Schedule IV drugs include Valium, Xanax and other tranquilizers and sedatives.
  • Schedule V: Have a low potential for abuse, limited risk for dependency and accepted medical uses. These include drugs like cough medicines with codeine.

Tennessee, like most states, has drug laws that mirror the Controlled Substances Act. The most minor drug offenses Tennessee are termed simple possession or casual exchange. These offenses are charged as Class A misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. When it comes to possession, any first time drug possession charge would result in this misdemeanor offense. This means that regardless of the 'schedule,' you are facing the same penalties. When it comes to second drug possession offenses, the penalties vary. For marijuana possession, you would still be facing misdemeanor charges. If you are facing a second offense for possession of a serious drug, you are at risk of felony charges. Felony charges do not arise with marijuana possession until the third offense. The penalties for a Class E felony that you could face for second offense possession charges could include between one and six years in prison and a fine of up to $3,000. Another penalty that could be added would be a drug education program to prevent future drug crime offenses.

If you are facing a drug charge, contact the Attorney James M. Marshall, today to schedule a consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and the legal options available to you.