Felonies

In Tennessee, criminal offenses are categorized as either misdemeanors or felonies. Most simply, felonies are any criminal violation that have a minimum sentence of one year or more; misdemeanors are any violation that have a maximum sentence of less than one year.

Felonies

The Tennessee legislature has classified felony crimes from the least serious (Class E Felony), to the most serious (Class A Felony). Each Class is assigned a sentencing range. Thus, a convicted defendant will receive a sentence based on the classification of the conviction offense. First degree murder is in a class alone, and has a set punishment of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole, life without the possibility of parole, or death.

The sentence is also affected by the defendant’s criminal history. There are many factors which a court can and will consider when sentencing a defendant convicted of a felony, but the table below represents the statutory guideline that is the foundation for all felony sentencing.

Felony Class
Mitigated (0 Priors)
Range I – “Standard” (0-1 Priors)
Range II – “Multiple” (2-4 Priors)
Range III – “Persistent” (5+ Priors)
Career
A
15-60 years base
Release Eligibility %
13.5 years
(20% – 2.7 years)
15 -25 years
(30% – 4.5 – 7.5 years)
25 – 40 years
(35% – 8.8 – 14 years)
40 – 60 years
(45% – 18 – 27 years)
60 years
(60% – 36 years)
B
8 – 30 years
Release Eligibility %
7.2 years
(20% – 1.4 years)
8 – 12 years
(30% – 2.4 – 3.6 years)
12 – 20 years
(35% – 4.2 – 7 years)
20 – 30 years
(45% – 9 – 13.5 years)
30 years
(60% – 18 years)
C
3 – 15 years
Release Eligibility %
2.7 years
(20% – 2.7 years)
3 – 6 years
(30% – 4.5 – 7.5 years)
6 – 10 years
(35% – 8.8 – 14 years)
10 – 15 years
(45% – 18 – 27 years)
15 years
(60% – 9 years)
D
2 – 12 years
Release Eligibility %
1.8 years
(20% – 2.7 years)
2 – 4 years
(30% – 4.5 – 7.5 years)
4 – 8 years
(35% – 8.8 – 14 years)
8 – 12 years
(45% – 18 – 27 years)
12 years
(60% – 7.2 years)
E
1 – 6 years
Release Eligibility %
.9 years
(20% – .2 years)
1 – 2 years
(30% – .3 – .6 years)
2 – 4 years
(35% – .7 – 1.4 years)
4 – 6 years
(45% – 1.8 – 2.7 years)
6 years
(60% – 3.6 years)

A defendant is eligible for probation if the sentence imposed is ten years or less. Convictions for certain offenses, however, do not permit probationary sentences. Also, contrary to the release eligibility percentages in the chart above, defendants convicted of certain offenses must serve 100% of their sentence, less behavior credits, before eligible for release.