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Drug Crime Sentencing Enhancements

Nashville Attorney Defending Individuals Against Narcotics Charges

Some factors may have a direct, and often negative, impact on the sentence imposed for a Tennessee drug conviction. The extent to which a drug crime sentencing enhancement may increase the potential penalties depends on the specific facts and the law. If you are facing a narcotics charge in Davidson or Williamson County, Nashville drug crime lawyer Bernie McEvoy can explain the potential consequences of a sentencing enhancement. He can provide realistic expectations while aggressively pursuing a favorable outcome in your case.

Drug Crime Sentencing Enhancements in Tennessee

Tennessee requires the court to consider certain factors when determining whether to enhance the sentence for a criminal conviction. The court, however, is not bound by these factors. Some factors that may apply for drug conviction sentencing include: the defendant’s prior history of criminal convictions, commission of the offense while incarcerated, or out on bail, parole, probation, or any other type of release, possession of a firearm or deadly weapon during the offense, abusing a position of trust or professional license to facilitate the offense, unlawful or illegal presence in the United States, and other considerations.

In some cases, enhancement factors overlap with other statutes covering the same situation. However, the defendant’s sentence may only be enhanced under one of the statutes. For example, selling a controlled substance to a person under eighteen years old is subject to enhanced penalties under the Tennessee drug statute for one classification higher, and is also listed as a factor in the sentence enhancement statute.

Previous Criminal History

In many drug cases, the prosecution will use the defendant’s prior convictions to seek an enhanced sentence for a current drug charge. Under Tennessee’s criminal drug laws, habitual drug offenders are subject to enhanced punishments for some felony drug violations, such as selling or manufacturing a controlled substance or possession with intent to sell. A habitual drug offender is defined under the law as any person who has at least three prior class A or class B felony drug convictions committed on separate occasions. If convicted of a class A or class B felony drug crime, a habitual drug offender may be sentenced within the range of punishment provided by one higher class of offense, and an additional fine of up to $200,000. A skilled drug crime lawyer can help you defend against charges of this nature.

School Zone

Tennessee’s Drug-Free School Zone Act provides for enhanced and mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug crimes that occur on or within a certain distance of school grounds and other places for children. The drug offenses that fall within the Act include manufacturing, delivering, or selling a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture, deliver, or sell.

If the offense occurred on the grounds or facilities of any school, or within 1,000 feet of the property of an elementary school, middle school, or secondary school, a conviction is punished as one classification higher than the actual offense. The Act also imposes an increased monetary fine. The defendant is required to serve the entire minimum sentence of the higher offense and is not eligible for early release.

If the offense occurred within 1,000 feet of a preschool, childcare center, public library, recreational center, or park, the defendant is subject to increased fines. However, the defendant will not be subject to additional incarnation under the higher classification, but will be required to fully serve the minimum sentence of the original offense.


Under Tennessee’s “Crooks with Guns” Law, it is a criminal offense to possess a firearm or any deadly weapon with the intent to employ it during the commission, attempted commission, or escape from a nonviolent crime, such as a drug offense. The law may apply even where the defendant is otherwise lawfully permitted to carry a firearm, if the prosecution can argue that it may have been employed.

Contact a Nashville Lawyer for Drug Crime Defense

Nashville attorney Bernie McEvoy can help you understand the drug crime sentencing enhancements that may apply in your case. He has represented defendants facing felony drug charges in Franklin, Nashville, and other areas within Davidson and Williamson Counties. Schedule your appointment today by calling (615) 255-9595 during the day and (615) 804-8779 after hours and weekends, or by contacting us online.

Client Reviews
“Bernie McEvoy was very focused on learning all the facts of the case I brought to him. He represented me with the highest of professionalism. He is a great listener who knows how to formulate a plan of action and seek the best possible solution.” Larry M.
“From the moment I met Mr. McEvoy, he welcomed me as a client and provided excellent representation. He has compassion for each person and works diligently to provided the best possible results.” Lawrence E.
“We hired Bernie for a criminal defense case. Overall we were pleased with the outcome. I would recommend Mr. McEvoy. He is very pleasant to work with and works “for” you, not the system. Thanks Bernie!” Taffney H.