COVID-19 Notice: Our firm is open and available to help.

Understand Tennessee Penalties for Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking carries significant legal penalties in Tennessee, especially when the crime resulted in substantial profits. In some cases, drug sales may result in federal rather than state charges, which carry the possibility of longer prison sentences.

Penalties for trafficking in Tennessee vary by substance and amount as follows.

Schedule I and II trafficking

Both the federal and state government categorize drugs in schedules depending on their potential hazards and accepted medical uses. Tennessee imposes similar penalties for the sale of Schedule I and Schedule II substances. Schedule I includes heroin and psychedelic drugs such as LSD, while Schedule II includes methamphetamines, cocaine, fentanyl, and opiate-based substances.

For a first conviction for selling or intending to distribute a Schedule I or II substance, the offender could receive five to 30 years in prison. If another person suffered death or serious bodily injury as a result of the crime, the minimum sentence is 20 years.

A second sentence carries a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum life sentence. The maximum fine for a first offense is $5 million for an individual and $25 million for an organization.

Schedule III, IV, and V trafficking

Schedule III includes anabolic steroids, Schedule IV includes prescription drugs such as Valium and Xanax, and Schedule V drugs include prescriptions such as Tylenol with codeine. The first offense for sale or intent to distribute substances in these schedules carries a minimum of one year and up to 10 years in prison.

In addition to these penalties, a convicted offender must pay legal fees and restitution. The court can seize assets associated with drug trafficking proceeds. The person can also lose federal benefits for five years for a first trafficking conviction and 10 years for a second conviction, including licenses, contracts, grants, and student loans. Depending on the amount of the substance in question, an offender may be subject to either state or federal charges.

2020-09-29T17:54:27+00:00May 26th, 2020|Criminal Defense|


The moment finally came when I saw Jay walk down the stairs in the court room, he flashed me a thumbs up and I knew... I knew I won. If you need a lawyer do not hesitate to call Houston & Alexander. There is no one that will represent you better anywhere in Chattanooga. I wholeheartedly give them five stars. - Antonio
I had hired another law firm and they were getting nowhere with my case. I was charged with multiple offense DUIs and other charges. I was not sure where to turn and called Houston and Alexander. Johnny Houston went the EXTRA MILE for me! The other law firm had negotiated a sentence that may have made me lose my house, my kids...everything. Johnny was not only able to get my charges reduced but also the sentence net result was I was able to keep my family together. -Colleen
We've been clients of Houston & Alexander for three years, with Bret Alexander representing us during that time. I can't speak highly enough of his integrity, professionalism, and his dedication to our legal needs. We are so grateful for his guidance and effectiveness through such a difficult time. He's an attorney you can trust and depend on to do the right thing. We are sincerely so grateful. Thank You! - Trish
I am a Desert Storm veteran and found myself in need of legal counsel. Everyone from the receptionist to the attorney himself treated me with the utmost respect and dignity. I found them to be knowledgeable and most helpful. I would recommend Houston and Alexander for all your legal needs. Thank you for all of your help. - C Pugh
I won't go into specifics because they are very embarrassing for my family. But if you have a daughter who has been criminally charged with a serious charge, Johnny Houston should be your go-to gentleman. Because of his hard work, and diligence in our case, we can once again hold our heads High and consider this a lesson learned. Thank you Johnny Houston from the bottom of our hearts! -Karen A.