What Might Happen if I’m Caught by Police Using Drugs?

What Might Happen if I’m Caught by Police Using Drugs?

Drugs laws vary from state to state; sometimes, the offense is handed over to federal authorities depending upon the type of offense, and many states have seemingly confusing drug laws. However, all laws vary depending upon the type of drug someone possessed, the amount she had and its concentration or purity level.

For example, the state of Tennessee has severe consequences for the most part, which is bad news for any state residents whom the police catch with drugs. This state treats drug-related offenses very seriously, so people can receive the same punishment whether they possess heroin or marijuana, even though the latter substance is fairly accepted throughout society (and even legal in some states). Furthermore, in Tennessee, the term “possession” can mean simply mean being near the substance or having it in a vehicle, whether other people in the car know the drug is there or not. Also, possessing half an ounce or more of marijuana can turn into a federal charge: a first time drug offense is classified as Class A misdemeanor in Tennessee, and conviction could lead to one year in jail and fines up to $2,500. Second and third offenses for possessing drugs may turn into a felony charge, which could lead to up to six years in prison and fines up to $3,000 if someone is convicted. This state also commonly orders people who are charged with drug possession to take courses on drugs and their effects1.

Any scheduled drug is considered illegal if someone who carries it lacks a prescription, so such people can be arrested (or least cited) if caught by police. Someone will incur a misdemeanor if he is issued a citation for drug possession, but only if he has no history of previous citations or criminal offenses. However, being arrested for drug possession may result in a felony offense. Possession with intent to distribute it means someone had enough of an illegal substance on him that the only logical conclusion is that he meant to sell it to other people. The state of Tennessee determines that some people have intent to sell drugs solely if they have certain substances.

Being convicted of the sale of an illegal substance typically requires an officer to witness the sale of the substance or to be involved with the sale as an undercover agent. Being convicted of the sale of an illegal substance is automatically a felony, but the sentence will depend based on the type of drug involved, the amount sold, the location of the sale and any previous offenses or convictions. For example, Tennessee has the following consequences for people who get caught with marijuana:

  • Up to half an ounce is a Class A misdemeanor for simple possession
  • Half an ounce to 10 pounds is a Class E felony that can result in one to six years imprisonment
  • 10 to 70 pounds is a Class D felony that can result in two to 12 years imprisonment
  • 70 to 300 pounds is a Class C felony that can result in three to five years imprisonment
  • Over 300 pounds is a Class B felony that can result in eight to 30 years imprisonment

Amounts under half an ounce are still considered a felony if officers deem that the amount was sold2.

If you are caught by the police using an illegal substance, then you will most likely incur a minimum of an arrest and charge for drug possession. If you are charged with drug possession, then you must appear in court, and, if convicted of the charge, you will likely face at least a large fine. In many cases, the conviction will result in not only a large fine, but also time in jail. The amount of jail time depends upon the amount of drugs you possessed when caught, the drug type and whether you had an intent to sell it. Lastly, the charge will remain on your criminal record forever, which will likely affect your ability to obtain future jobs.

Avoiding these consequences is essential, as they can ruin someone’s future. Ergo, getting professional help for substance abuse and addiction can help someone avoid the legal consequences of being caught by the police with drugs. In short, take steps now to overcome drug use, and then you may prevent not only serious legal consequences, but also problems to your health, finances, emotions and relationships. If you consult a medical professional or addiction specialist, then you can determine if professional treatment is necessary to defeat your drug habits. Drug abuse can lead to severe health problems, including unintentional overdoses (which can be fatal), but rehab helps millions of people every year quit drugs. In response, get immediate help for substance abuse to avoid legal problems and other devastating issues.

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If you or someone you know struggles with substance abuse or addiction, then please call our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators are standing by 24 hours a day to help you find a treatment program that will work for you. Break free from addiction and call us as soon as possible.


1 Get Lawyer Leads Inc., “Drug Possession Laws,” DrugPossessionLaws.com, http://www.drugpossessionlaws.com/tennessee/, (Cited December 13, 2015).

2 Shipman, Michael, Attorney, “TN Drug Possession Laws Bonnaroo 2013,” NashvilleAttorneyNow.com, http://nashvilleattorneynow.com/uncategorized/tn-drug-possession-laws-bonnaroo-2013/, (March 25, 2013).