Drug Charges in Tennessee

Tennessee and its judiciary take drug crimes very seriously. In its strong stance against drugs, Tennessee has implemented extremely harsh penalties for these types of crimes in the state. Being charged with any type of drug offense in Tennessee is a serious matter that can have long-lasting implications, regardless of whether you are a first-time or habitual offender.

If you have been charged with a drug crime in Tennessee, it is crucial that you seek advice and representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Knox Defense have more than 75 years of cumulative experience in defending against every possible kind of drug offense in both Federal and State courts. We can help.


We represent defendants in both federal and state courts, including the United States District Court of Eastern Tennessee, Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Tennessee and United States Supreme Courts. We focus on ensuring our clients receive a fair trial no matter the charges faced. These charges might include:

  • Possession of drugs with intent to sell
  • Drug trafficking and/or distribution
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Possession of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine (meth), or fentanyl
  • Prescription drug fraud and distribution
  • Drug manufacturing


The law governing the criminality of controlled substances in Tennessee is complex. Specific charges and potential penalties largely depend on the type and amount of the drug involved. Tennessee categorizes drug crimes into classes referred to as drug Schedules. Each schedule categorizes drugs based on factors specific to the substance, its other uses, and its potential for abuse that affects society at large. These schedules are also used to determine how these types of charges will be prosecuted in court. Examples of drugs in each Schedule include:

Schedule I – Most severe drugs, such as heroin, LSD, PCP, methamphetamine
Schedule II – Drugs such as codeine, morphine, oxycodone, and cocaine
Schedule III – Less severe drugs, includes GHB, Ketamine, estrogen, testosterone
Schedule IV – Drugs such as lorazepam, diazepam, tramadol
Schedule V – Includes pyrovalerone, lacosamide (also referred to as bath salts)
Schedule VI – Drugs such as marijuana, THC concentrates, hashish
Schedule VII – Other types such as butyl nitrate or its isomers used for inhalation

Federal penalties are evaluated on a separate set of factors that are different than state schedules. Facing drug charges in the State or Federal Courts in Tennessee without the assistance of an experienced attorney can be a perilous undertaking. Our criminal defense team will help you understand the complex nature of the law governing your charges, navigate the criminal justice system in both State and Federal Court, and protect your rights throughout the process. We are seasoned trial lawyers with astute investigative and analytical skills. We can help you find the best possible outcome for your unique situation.


Conviction for drug crimes in Tennessee can impact a person’s life and future opportunities in substantial ways. Penalties can include imprisonment, fines, and probation. Even first-time offenses and misdemeanors can result in jail sentences and punitive fines. Felony drug offenses can result in punishment that includes years of imprisonment with substantial fines that can be as high as $500,000.

Nuisances that impact sentences for convictions of drug crimes include Tennessee’s Drug Free School Zone laws. drug offenses occurring within 1000 feet of a school, recreational center, park, daycare, or public library impose sentences comparable in harshness to that of second degree murder.

Even for minor drug convictions, a Federal Court Career Offender Status can result in life imprisonment. Punitive consequences for federal convictions can be more severe than those at the state level, and it is therefore critical to have the guidance and advocacy of an attorney experienced in federal court criminal defense matters representing your rights under these onerous conditions.

Conviction for a drug crime can impact other areas of your life over and above those imposed by a court as punishment. Drug convictions can limit your ability to obtain certain employment, housing, and governmental aid, such as grants and financial aid for college, as well as in divorce and custody matters, and toward one’s right to own firearms.

At Knox Defense, our attorneys will discuss the charges you are faced with and provide you with realistic options that allow you to make informed decisions about your defense. We will build a solid strategy for the best possible outcome in your unique matter. We have decades of experience defending the rights of our clients, and helping them to maintain their freedoms. We are aggressive advocates in and outside of the courtroom. Call us today for a free confidential consultation at (865) 269-9926 or complete our online form.

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