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What happens to someone accused of drug possession?

The state of Tennessee has stiff laws concerning the illegal possession of drugs, which could be anything from marijuana or heroin to the synthetic drugs we hear about so frequently in newscasts.

People addicted to drugs will often do almost anything to get them. To do so, they may resort to criminal activity. In recent years, there has been a push for courts to order those convicted to enter drug rehabilitation programs in lieu of going to prison.

Tennessee drug offenses 

In Tennessee, there are two kinds of drug possession crimes: The first is simple possession, a minor offense that comes with fines and possible jail time. The second is possession with intent. This is more serious and may be a felony.

The type and quantity of drug and the criminal background of the person in possession of the drug all play a part in the makeup of a conviction. Different drug types have specific categories. Here are three examples:

  • Schedule I: Class B felony, 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000 for possession of heroin, LSD or methaqualone
  • Schedule II:  Class C felony, 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for possession of cocaine, morphine or amphetamines
  • Schedule VI: Class and type of penalties depend on the amount of marijuana, synthetic marijuana or hashish

    An alternative to prison

    Drug courts are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and a judge can decide whether a drug rehabilitation program would be of greater benefit for the accused than spending time in prison.

    To be eligible, the person charged with illegal possession of drugs must be a nonviolent offender with no history of violence or criminal behavior. He or she must meet regularly with a probation officer, make progress reports to the court, participate in drug screenings and successfully complete all steps of the drug rehab program.

    Looking at options

    Many people in Tennessee have succumbed to opioid drug abuse and fall into criminal behavior because of their addiction. Eligibility for participation in a drug rehabilitation program as an alternative to prison is among the legal options anyone charged with illegal drug possession can explore.

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