Drug charges can be complicated depending on the various statutes violated. However, all drug crimes carry serious penalties and can prove difficult to fight without the help of an experienced lawyer. If convicted, you could be faced with multiple penalties for a single crime or even consecutive charges for multiple crimes, resulting in heavy fines and years of incarceration.
Thus, it is crucial to secure the services of a skilled Nashville drug crimes lawyer to help you retain your rights during the upcoming proceedings. A criminal defense attorney can help you pinpoint potential errors in the prosecution’s case, craft a formidable defense, request a favorable deal, or even seek dismissal of your charges. By seeking experienced representation from, you can give yourself the best possible chance at reducing the impact of your drug crimes on your life and your family.
A drug offense can be charged at the state or federal level depending on the drugs involved, their quantities, and the intent of the person in possession. Below are some of the most common drug charges.
Possession is the most fundamental of all drug charges, as most other charges will also incorporate possession. If you are found to be in possession of any illegal substance, you will first be charged with possession before additional evidence reveals more charges. For example, drug possession can quickly expand into intent to distribute or intent to sell if you are caught with an amount over the defined simple possession threshold. However, if you are charged with simple possession, a judge or jury may see fit to sentence you to rehabilitation instead of incarceration.
Intent to distribute charges recognize that the offender has more than a reasonable amount of a particular substance that could be attributed to personal use. This quantity is set by the state, andassumes that an individual in possession of any amount of a given substance over the personal use limit likely intends to distribute it to others. However, the burden is on the state to prove that you had the intent to distribute the drug in question. As a result, intent to distribute renders your drug charges more serious than simple possession, and often leads to incarceration.
Intent to sell is similar to intent to distribute but involves the specific intent to receive money or goods in exchange for the drugs possessed. To be charged with intent to sell, there must be some evidence that you have sold or are planning to sell a controlled substance. Many cases involving intent to sell charges are discovered via domestic undercover police operations or confidential informants, making intent to sell charges extremely challenging to oppose.
Trafficking is usually a federal crime, separating it from intent to distribute or sell, though the general concept is similar. The deciding factors are the quantity of drug involved and how the drugs were transported, and sentencing can escalate based on the severity of either. Sentencing also changes based on the schedule the drugs are placed on. For example, a Schedule 1 controlled substance will result in harsher penalties than lower-schedule drugs. Drug trafficking charges are often more life altering than possession and intent to distribute or sell and are not limited to large crime organizations.
Obtaining commonly abused substances through fraudulent means usually corresponds with lying to a licensed distributor to obtain the substance illegally. For example, if you lie to a doctor about a condition to receive a prescription for a controlled substance or impersonate a prescription holder, you are fraudulently obtaining that substance. Often, these charges are accompanied by forgery, deception, subterfuge, or fraud and come with prison time or steep fines.
The unlicensed manufacturing or cultivation of a controlled substance is exceptionally difficult to fight. Usually, there is plenty of physical evidence available for the prosecution to demonstrate that there was, in fact, a manufacturing operation. Illegal marijuana cultivation is a common offense of this type, as is manufacturing methamphetamine.
While any single criminal act has the potential to result in multiple charges, drug crimes are some of the most likely to result in multiple charges. Of course, for you to be charged multiple times for one criminal act, the crime must have broken multiple laws at once. Many of the above charges are considered felonies on the state and federal levels and often coincide with one another, making it common to receive multiple charges for a single crime. Even the crime of possession can be charged multiple times on both the state and federal level depending on the substance involved.
For example, imagine you were found in possession of one ounce of marijuana in Nashville. Since Tennessee defines any amount of marijuana over ½ ounce as an excessive amount for personal use, you will be charged with both felony possession of marijuana and intent to distribute or sell. You may receive drug trafficking charges if you were seen selling marijuana or were caught crossing the state border while in possession. At ten pounds, penalties increase, and the likelihood you will receive intent to sell or trafficking charges increases as well.
You must also keep in mind that criminal charges can come from both the state and the federal governments, meaning you might face multiple charges from different courts. While simple possession is a misdemeanor charged at the state level, an arrest by a federal official, intent to deliver, trafficking, and manufacturing often result in federal charges. During any drug related case, the experience of your Nashville drug crimes attorney will heavily determine whether there is a chance at lowering the charges against you.
After you are charged with a drug crime, your first step should be to contact a trusted Nashville drug crimes attorney. Upon examination of your case, a skilled attorney will review the circumstances of your arrest and determine if procedural issues may negate the validity of the search, seizure, or arrest. If this is the case, your attorney may be able to request a reduction of charges or even outright dismissal.
When faced with criminal charges, comply with police but do not allow a search unless the arresting authority has a warrant or probable cause to conduct the search. Searches and seizures must be done with a warrant from a judge. If the police found drugs while conducting an illegal search, your attorney may have grounds to get the charges dismissed. After arrest, avoid speaking to anyone but your lawyer about the events that led to the charges. Listening to your Nashville drug crimes lawyer and keeping quiet before and during sentencing is the primary way you can help your attorney work toward reducing the potential charges against you. Conversely, oversharing to the police or allowing them free reign to search your property will significantly affect your changes at a reduced charge or dismissal.
Should your arrest and charges prove valid, you will be charged separately for each offense and face sentencing accordingly. A criminal court judge will determine whether these sentences will elapse consecutively or concurrently. Usually, first time offenders are allowed to serve their time concurrently. Even if this is not your first charge, a skilled Nashville drug crimes attorney request reduced sentencing or concurrent sentencing as part of a plea deal.
Hiring an experienced lawyer is a vital step in fighting against multiple drug charges. Securing a Nashville drug crimes attorney more experienced in fighting multiple charges gives you every potential tool at their disposal to reduce the severity of your sentence.
It might surprise many to know that you can still be charged with simple possession, intent to deliver, intent to sell, and more in a legal state. Although marijuana is now legalized or decriminalized in many areas, drug charges are still possible. In fact, marijuana charges in a legal or decriminalized state function much like alcohol charges—although alcohol is legal to consume for those over 21, it is still illegal to drive while intoxicated and doing so will result in DUI charges.
Although the Nashville DA announced last year that the DA’s office will no longer handle cases of simple possession under ½ oz, the announcement simply makes it less likely you will receive charges. In addition, the city and state will still pursue charges for marijuana over this amount, as the substance remains illegal for recreational use in Tennessee.
In early 2021, the state legislature passed a bill that would develop a committee to study medical marijuana. The bill also potentially decriminalizes certain amounts of cannabis oil that contains less than .9% THC for approved patients. However, all other marijuana regulations remain in place, and you can receive charges for violating any of these statutes. Consult with a Nashville drug crimes lawyer to learn more about a potential defense for these charges.
Patrick McNally is an experienced criminal defense attorney that can help you understand your drug crime charge and build a rigorous defense against severe penalties. Experienced in both federal and state level cases, this Nashville criminal attorney has over 35 years of experience helping people fight these complicated charges. If you have recently experienced drug charges of any kind and are unsure how to proceed, Patrick McNally can help you begin building your criminal case defense today. Contact McNally Law online to schedule a consultation.