According to Tennessee law, you commit a simple possession offense if you “knowingly possess or casually exchange a controlled substance, unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of professional practice” (TCA 39-17-418).
One of the most common drugs associated with simple possession is marijuana. You can be found guilty of simple possession if you possessed or distributed a small amount of marijuana, including ½ ounce (14.175 grams) or less.
A first-offense simple possession charge is a Class A Misdemeanor. If you are convicted, you can face the following:
Tennessee law dictates the mandatory minimum fines for simple possession convictions. The amount of the fine depends upon the type of drug found in your possession and your number of prior convictions. Conviction for simple possession of marijuana (Schedule VI) includes:
While simple possession of a scheduled controlled substance other than marijuana, which includes drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, unprescribed Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Oxycotin, etc., includes:
You can also face other serious consequences in addition to those listed above. You may receive a school suspension or expulsion, lose scholarships, and be denied entrance into a college/university.
If you are in the workforce, a simple drug possession conviction may also impact your ability to maintain employment or may result in a negative action to your professional license. A conviction of simple possession will stay on your public record (except in rare cases); therefore, you can be negatively affected when prospective employers access records of your prior convictions.
If you are arrested for possessing, exchanging, or distributing a substance, the prosecutor must prove what the substance is and that it is a prohibited drug. The testing is done at a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) lab.
The TBI uses a technique known as gas chromatography to separate and identify the substance. If the substance is confirmed to be an illegal drug, then the prosecution can move forward. One potential problem with the many steps of identification is the “chain of custody,” a record that documents who received the sample, who tested the sample, and other information. If all times on the chain of custody are not accounted for, they may not be able to use the evidence against you.
After a simple drug possession arrest, it is important that you act quickly to gather information and preserve evidence from the case. Our Murfreesboro criminal defense attorney will examine the elements of the alleged drug possession to determine if the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly possessed or you intended to distribute the substance.
Success or failure in any criminal case may be determined by the decisions a defendant makes in the days after being arrested. If you have be arrested and/or charged with simple possession, it is vital that you consult with Clarke Law Firm immediately.