How Different Drugs Affect Criminal Sentences
Drug crimes carry varying penalties depending on the seriousness of the controlled substance involved. These severity levels are broken down into different tiers, known as “drug schedules.” Tennessee recognizes seven schedules, with the first comprising of the most dangerous substances and carrying the strictest penalties.
What are Drug Schedules in Tennessee?
Schedule I Drugs
Schedule I drugs are deemed the most serious because of their risk for causing addiction and dependency, as well as the general lack of any legitimate medical purpose for the substance. Common examples include:
Any manufacture, delivery, sale, or possession with intent of a Schedule I drug is a Class B felony. As such, it carries a sentence of 8 to 12 years and a fine of up to $100,000. When the amount of the controlled substance exceeds a certain threshold – with the exact quantity depending on the type of drug – the fine is raised to a maximum of $200,000.
Schedule II Drugs
Schedule II drugs are abused frequently, and, when misused, can result in a severe psychological or physiological dependency. However, there are instances, albeit very few, in which the substances can be used for medical purposes. Drugs in this category include:
Manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent of cocaine or methamphetamine is a Class C or Class B felony depending on the quantity. If someone is found with:
- Less than .5 grams: The offense is a Class C felony punishable by a sentence of 3 to 6 years and a fine of up to $100,000
- More than .5 grams: The offense is a Class B felony punishable by a sentence of 8 to 12 years and a fine of up to $100,000
Any manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent of other Schedule II drugs, or Schedule I drugs exceeding certain amounts depending on the exact substance, is a Class A felony punishable by 15 to 25 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $500,000.
Schedule III Drugs
Schedule III drugs are less dangerous than Schedule II drugs, though they are still frequently abused. Drugs in this tier include:
- Anabolic steroids
Drug offenses involving Schedule III drugs are Class D felonies punishable by a prison sentence of two to four years and a fine of up to $50,000.
Schedule IV Drugs
Drugs under Schedule IV are often prescribed to help patients, but have a slight risk of dependency. This includes:
- Xanax® (alprazolam)
- Valium® (diazepam)
- Other benzodiazepines/ sedatives
Drug crimes involving flunitrazepam are considered a Class C felony punishable by a prison sentence of three to six years and a fine of up to $100,000. Other Schedule IV drug offenses are Class D felonies punishable by a prison sentence of two to four years and a fine of up to $50,000.
Schedule V Drugs
Schedule V drugs are not typically addictive, but they too have a potential for abuse. They include medicines with limited amounts of codeine and opium. Any abuse of these drugs is a Class E felony punishable by one to two years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Schedule VI Drugs
Schedule VI drugs include marijuana, THC, and their synthetic equivalents. In Tennessee, marijuana is illegal for all medicinal and recreational use. The only exception is for high-CBD, low-THC cannabis oils for those who suffer from seizures.
The penalties for the manufacture, delivery, and possession with intent depend on the amount of drug involved. It could be punished as:
- Class E felony: for ½ ounce to 10 pounds of marijuana or less than 2 pounds of hashish. This carries a sentence of 1 to 2 years and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Class D felony: for 10 to 70 pounds of marijuana, 2 to 4 pounds of hashish, or 10 to 19 plants. It carries a sentence of 2 to 4 years and a fine of up to $50,000.
- Class C felony: for 4 to 8 pounds of hashish or 20 to 99 plants. It carries a sentence of 3 to 6 years and a fine of up to $100,000.
- Class B felony: for 70 to 300 pounds of marijuana, 8 to 15 pounds of hashish, or 100 to 499 plants. It carries a sentence of 8 to 12 years and a fine of up to $200,000.
- Class A felony: for more than 300 pounds of marijuana, more than 15 pounds of hashish, or more than 500 plants. It carries a sentence of 15 to 25 years and a fine of up to $500,000.
Schedule VII Drugs
Schedule VII drugs include butyl nitrite. Any offense with a Schedule VII drug is a Class E felony, punishable by a sentence of one to two years and a fine of up to $1,000.
Contact Eldridge & Blakney for dedicated assistance fighting your drug charge.