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Memphis Drug Possession Attorney

Prosecutors know that people without legal representation will not be aware of what rights they have or what defenses to use, so it can be easier to convince such parties to accept their convictions and close their cases. You deserve to know whether you can fight for a reduction in or dismissal of criminal charges.

Types of Drug Possession Cases Our Memphis Drug Possession Attorney Handles

Tennesse Code § 39-17-418 establishes that it is illegal for any person to knowingly possess or casually exchange a controlled substance unless the controlled substance is obtained directly from, or according to, a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of professional practice. It is also illegal for a person to distribute a small amount of marijuana not in excess of one-half (½) ounce.

A violation of Tennesse Code § 39-17-418(a) or Tennesse Code § 39-17-418(b) in which there is casual exchange to a minor from an adult who is at least two years older than the minor and who knows that the other person is a minor, is punishable as a felony as provided in Tennesse Code § § 39-17-417. A violation under Tennesse Code § 39-17-418 is a Class E felony when the alleged offender has two or more prior convictions under Tennesse Code § 39-17-418, and the current violation involves a Schedule I controlled substance classified as heroin.

Tennesse Code § 39-17-406 establishes many drugs in Schedule I, including 47 opiates, 30 fentanyl derivatives and analogs, 23 opium derivatives, 50 hallucinogenic substances, four depressants, 18 stimulants, and 29 cannabimimetic agents. Schedule II drugs under Tennesse Code § 39-17-408 include 47 types of opium and opiates, five stimulants, five depressants, two hallucinogenic substances, and three immediate precursors.

Tennesse Code § 39-17-410 establishes drugs in Schedule III include five stimulants, 15 depressants, nalorphine, seven narcotic drugs, 69 types of anabolic steroids, and a hallucinogenic substance. Schedule IV drugs under Tennesse Code § 39-17-412 include two narcotic drugs, 57 depressants, two types of fenfluramine, lorcaserin, 12 stimulants, and three other substances.

Tennesse Code § 39-17-414 establishes drugs in Schedule V, including six narcotic drugs, one stimulant, and five depressants. Schedule VI drugs under Tennesse Code § 39-17-415 include marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinols, and three synthetic equivalents.

Under Tennesse Code § 39-17-416, Schedule VII is the classification of substances that should not be included in Schedules I through VI. The only controlled substance included in Schedule VII is butyl nitrite and any isomer of butyl nitrite.

Possible Criminal Penalties in Memphis

Drug possession penalties can vary depending on the type of drug that was allegedly possessed. Criminal penalties in Tennessee are generally enforceable as follows:

  • Class C misdemeanor – Punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $50 fine
  • Class B misdemeanor – Punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine
  • Class A misdemeanor – Punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and a $2,500 fine
  • Class E felony – Punishable by up to six years in prison and a $3,000 fine
  • Class D felony – Punishable by up to 12 years in prison and a $5,000 fine
  • Class C felony – Punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
  • Class B felony – Punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $25,000 fine
  • Class A felony – Punishable by up to 60 years in prison and a $50,000 fine
  • First-degree murder – Punishable by death, or when death is not imposed, life in prison without the possibility of parole

In addition to imprisonment and fines, a misdemeanor or felony conviction can also lead to other consequences in Tennessee. An alleged offender faces the loss of a professional license, negative impacts on immigration status, possible termination of child custody rights, and also forfeiture of any gun rights.

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

Drug possession cases can involve mitigating or aggravating factors that might impact the possible punishment a court can impose. Under Tennessee Code § 40-35-113, mitigating factors include:

  • An alleged offender’s criminal conduct neither caused nor threatened serious bodily injury
  • An alleged offender acted under strong provocation
  • Substantial grounds excuse or justify the alleged offender’s criminal conduct, though failing to establish a defense
  • The alleged offender played a minor role in the commission of the offense
  • Before detection, the alleged offender compensated or made a good faith attempt to compensate the alleged victim for the damage or injury the alleged victim sustained
  • The alleged offender, because of youth or old age, lacked substantial judgment in committing the offense
  • The alleged offender was motivated by a desire to provide necessities for the alleged offender’s family or the alleged offender’s self
  • The alleged offender was suffering from a mental or physical condition that significantly reduced the alleged offender’s culpability for the offense; however, the voluntary use of intoxicants does not fall within the purview of this factor
  • The alleged offender assisted authorities in uncovering offenses committed by other people or in detecting or apprehending other people who had committed the offenses
  • The alleged offender assisted the authorities in locating or recovering any property or person involved in the crime
  • Even though they were guilty of the crime, the alleged offender committed the crime under such unusual circumstances that it is unlikely that there was a sustained intent to violate the law that motivated the criminal conduct
  • The alleged offender acted under duress or under the domination of another party, even though the duress or the domination of another person will not be sufficient to constitute a defense to the crime
  • Any other factor consistent with the purposes outlined in Chapter 35 of the Tennessee Code

Aggravating, or enhancement factors, established under Tennessee Code § 40-35-114 include:

  • The alleged offender has a prior history of criminal convictions or criminal behavior, in addition to those necessary to establish the appropriate range
  • The alleged offender was a leader in the commission of an offense involving two or more criminal actors
  • The alleged offense involved more than one alleged victim
  • An alleged victim of the alleged offense was particularly vulnerable because of age or physical or mental disability
  • The alleged offender treated or allowed an alleged victim to be treated with exceptional cruelty during the commission of an alleged offense
  • The personal injuries that were inflicted upon, or the amount of damage to property sustained by or taken from, the alleged victim was particularly great
  • The alleged offense involved an alleged victim and was committed to gratify the alleged offender’s desire for pleasure or excitement
  • The alleged offender, before trial or sentencing, failed to comply with the conditions of a sentence involving release into the community
  • The alleged offender possessed or employed a firearm, explosive device, or other deadly weapons during the commission of the offense
  • The alleged offender had no hesitation about the commission of a crime when the risk to human life was high
  • A felony offense resulted in death or serious bodily injury or involved the possible threat of death or serious bodily injury to another party, and the alleged offender was previously convicted of a felony resulting in either death or serious bodily injury
  • During the commission of the felony, the alleged offender intentionally inflicted serious bodily injury upon another person, or the actions of the alleged offender resulted in the death of, or serious bodily injury to, an alleged victim or a person other than the intended alleged victim
  • At the time a felony was committed, one of the following classifications was applicable to the alleged offender: Released on bail or pretrial release, when the alleged offender was ultimately convicted of a prior misdemeanor or felony; Released on parole or probation; On escape status; On work release, community corrections, some form of judicially-ordered release, or any other type of community release under the direct or indirect supervision of a state or local governmental authority or private entity that is contracting with a state or a local government; or Incarcerated in a penal institution for a misdemeanor or felony charge or conviction
  • An alleged offender abused a position of private or public trust or used their professional license in such a manner that significantly facilitated the commission or the fulfillment of an alleged offense
  • The alleged offender committed an alleged offense on the grounds or facilities of a pre-kindergarten (pre-K) through grade 12 private or public institution of learning while minors were present
  • The alleged offender was adjudicated to have committed a delinquent act or acts as a juvenile that constitute a felony when committed by an adult
  • An alleged offender intentionally selected a person against whom the crime was committed or selected property damaged or otherwise affected by an alleged crime, in whole or in part, because of the alleged offender’s belief or perception regarding the national origin, race, religion, color, ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, or gender of the person or owner or occupant of that property; however, this cannot be construed to permit enhancement of a sexual offense on the basis of gender selection alone
  • The alleged offense was an act of terrorism, or was related to an act of terrorism
  • If an alleged offender is convicted for the offense of aggravated assault pursuant to Tennessee Code § 39-13-102, the alleged victim of the aggravated assault was a correctional officer, law enforcement officer, firefighter, an emergency medical or rescue worker, an employee of the department of correction or the department of children’s services, emergency medical technician, youth services officer, probation and parole officer, a state registered security officer/guard, or paramedic, whether compensated or acting as a volunteer; provided, that the alleged victim was in the midst of performing an official duty and the alleged offender either knew or should have known that an alleged victim was such an officer or employee
  • If an alleged offender is convicted of the offenses of rape pursuant to Tennessee Code § 39-13-503, sexual battery pursuant to Tennessee Code § 39-13-505, or rape of a child pursuant to Tennessee Code § 39-13-522, the alleged offender caused the alleged victim to be mentally incapacitated or physically helpless by use of a controlled substance
  • When an alleged offender is convicted of aggravated rape pursuant to Tennessee Code § 39-13-502, rape pursuant to Tennessee Code § 39-13-503, rape of a child pursuant to Tennessee Code § 39-13-522, or statutory rape pursuant to Tennessee Code § 39-13-506, the alleged offender knew or should have known that, at the time of the offense, the alleged offender was HIV positive
  • If the alleged offender is convicted of the offenses of aggravated arson pursuant to Tennessee Code § 39-14-302 or vandalism pursuant to Tennessee Code § 39-14-408, the damage or destruction was caused to a structure, temporary or permanent in nature, used as a place of worship and the alleged offender knew or should have known that the structure was a place of worship; a place of worship is defined as a structure approved or qualified to be approved by the state board of equalization for a property tax exemption pursuant to Tennessee Code § 67-5-212, based on the ownership and use of such structure by a religious institution; and utilized on a regular basis by the religious institution as the site of congregational services, rites, or activities communally undertaken for the purpose of worship
  • The alleged offender is an adult and sells to, or gives or exchanges a controlled substance or other illegal drugs with a minor
  • The alleged offense involved the theft of property and, as a result of the manner in which the offense was committed, the alleged victim suffered significant damage to other property belonging to the alleged victim or for which the alleged victim was responsible.

Memphis Courts

Many drug possession cases in Memphis will be handled in the General Sessions Criminal Courts, which are comprised of nine criminal courts. It will be Divisions 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 15 that handle misdemeanor cases, while one court handles felony cases each month.

The felony court rotates among courts on a monthly basis, and no jury trials are held in General Sessions Criminal Courts. Criminal courts in the Memphis area include the following 15 courts and judges, all sharing the same location:

  • Judge Paula Skahan

Division 1
Criminal Justice Center
201 Poplar Ave., 5th Floor
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 222-3328

  • Judge Glenn Wright

Division 2
Criminal Justice Center
201 Poplar Ave., 5th Floor
Memphis, TN 38103

  • Judge Bobby Carter

Division 3
Criminal Justice Center
201 Poplar Ave., 5th Floor
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 222-3328

  • Judge Carolyn Wade Blackett

Division 4
Criminal Justice Center
201 Poplar Ave., 5th Floor
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 222-3208

  • Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

Division 5
Criminal Justice Center
201 Poplar Ave., 6th Floor
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 222-3328

  • Judge John W. Campbell

Division 6
Criminal Justice Center
201 Poplar Ave., 6th Floor
Memphis, TN 38103

  • Hon. Lee Coffee

Division 7
Criminal Justice Center
201 Poplar Ave., 6th Floor
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 222-3216

  • Judge Christopher B. Craft

Division 8
Criminal Justice Center
201 Poplar Ave., 6th Floor
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 222-3328

  • Judge W. Mark Ward

Division 9
Criminal Justice Center
201 Poplar Ave., 7th Floor
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 222-3328

  • Judge Jennifer Mitchell

Division 10
Criminal Justice Center
201 Poplar Ave., 7th Floor
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 222-3328

  • Judge Karen Massey

Division 11
Criminal Justice Center
201 Poplar Ave., Suite LL-56
Memphis, TN 38103

  • Judge S. Ronald Lucchesi

Division 12
Criminal Justice Center
201 Poplar Ave., Suite LL-56
Memphis, TN 38103

  • Judge Louis J. Montesi, Jr.

Division 13
Criminal Justice Center
201 Poplar Ave., Suite LL-56
Memphis, TN 38103

  • Judge Larry E. Potter

Division 14 (Environmental Court)
Criminal Justice Center
201 Poplar Ave., Suite LL-56
Memphis, TN 38103

  • Judge Loyce Lambert-Ryan

Division 15
Criminal Justice Center
201 Poplar Ave., Suite LL-56
Memphis, TN 38103

Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation With a Memphis Drug Possession Attorney

Are you facing any kind of drug possession charge in the greater Memphis area? You will want to seek the help of Pickford Law for assistance in achieving the most favorable possible outcome for your case.

Our firm has experience defending individuals against all types of drug possession charges in Tennessee. You can call (901) 424-1920 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation that will allow us to sit down with you and take a longer look at your case while also outlining all of your legal options.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does simple possession become intent to distribute?

Law enforcement in Tennessee may seek intent to distribute charges when an alleged offender possesses a large number of drugs or if an alleged offender is not in possession of a significant amount of drugs but is in possession of certain items such as scales, baggies, ties, or other paraphernalia indicating possible distribution.

What are the most common kinds of drugs involved in drug possession cases?

The United States Department of Justice found that cocaine, particularly crack, was the greatest drug threat to Tennessee because crack cocaine was readily available and commonly abused, with distribution and abuse of crack being associated with more violent crime than any other drug. Marijuana was the second greatest drug threat to Tennessee as the most readily available and commonly abused drug in the state, but its distribution and abuse was generally not associated with violent crime. Methamphetamine was third.

What happens if I am charged with drug possession for drugs that were not mine?

You are going to need to retain legal counsel for help fighting the criminal charges because prosecutors are not likely to negotiate a reduction in your charges without an attorney. You will have much better chances of overcoming the charges when you hire a lawyer.

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