What are the seven schedules of drugs in Tennessee?

Tennessee outlines seven different schedules of illegal drugs, each of which is associated with a specific set of criminal charges and penalties.

Being charged with a crime of any sort can be a very scary experience for a person in Tennessee. When that charge is associated with any legal or illegal drug, it becomes important for a defendant to understand how the state classifies different substances. The various classifications may directly relate to the severity of the charges as well as any subsequent penalties if a conviction is achieved.

Five types of drug charges

When it comes to types of drug charges, the Discovery Place drug treatment center explains that that there are five different charges a person may face. These are simple possession, possession with intent, sale, conspiracy or trafficking and manufacturing. It is important for defendants to remember that even after being charged, it is the responsibility of the prosecution team to prove a person's guilt.

Two main factors contribute to what type of charge a person may face. The amount of a drug involved is one factor. For example, if a person has an amount of a drug that is relatively small, it may be inferred that the drug was possessed solely for that person's use. However, if a substantial amount of a drug was involved and perhaps the presence of bags or other items was also noted, a charge may be for possession with intent as the evidence suggests the drug was for more than one person's use.

Another element integral to a criminal charge is what drug is involved. The state of Tennessee outlines seven different categories, or schedules, of drugs.

Understanding the schedules

Ranging from Schedule I to Schedule VII, drugs from heroin to butyl nitrate are rated based upon their potential for abuse, their accepted use or safeguards for medicinal purposes and their connection to any physical or psychological dependence.

Schedule I drugs are those deemed to have the highest chance of being abused and no safe or accepted known medical use. Examples of these drugs include heroin, opiates, GHP and peyote. Charges of manufacturing or delivering, possession with intent or sale of Schedule I drugs may be Class B felonies. Jail time for a Class B felony may range between eight and 12 years.

Schedule II drugs include codeine, PCP, Ritalin, methadone and precursors to methamphetamines. Depending upon the quantity involved, possession with intent or manufacture of these drugs may be Class A, B or C felonies. Jail time for a Class A felony may be between 15 and 25 years and for a Class C felony between three and six years.

Schedule III drugs include some narcotics and appetite suppressants. Crimes involving these substances may be Class D felonies. Schedule IV drugs include flunitrazepam and may result in Class C or D felony charges. Schedule V drugs may be narcotics with some medicinal use and may be associated with Class E felony charges.

At Schedule VI, charges drop to misdemeanors if the quantities are low. Marijuana is a Schedule VI drug but large amounts may still result in felony charges. The only Schedule VII drug is butyl nitrate.

Getting help with a drug arrest

People in Tennessee should always contact an attorney for help after being arrest for suspected drug crimes. Learning about the different classifications of drugs and what each charge means is an important first step in the defense process.