While courts do not take drug possession charges lightly, there are programs in place that could help you keep your future intact. Alternative sentencing for drug possession charges in Chattanooga allow for alleged offenders to demonstrate good behavior for a predetermined amount of time for the chance to have the charges dropped and expunged. These chances do not happen often, so it is ideal for you to work with experienced attorneys who could advocate on your behalf.
In Chattanooga, there is a diversion program available for first-time offenders convicted of possession with intent to distribute, which is referred to as judicial diversion. If the individual has been charged with a criminal offense, like drug possession, and it is their first time being charged, they may be eligible to forego jail time and have their case restricted from public access after a period of probation, classes, or community service. Individuals often make mistakes and deserve second chances, and the Hamilton County District Attorney looks favorably on someone who is having their first brush with the law.
A criminal record carries a lifetime of consequences and impacts everything from job opportunities to qualifying for student loans to housing opportunities. Judicial diversion provides individuals with the opportunity to escape these consequences if they have not previously participated in a pre-trial diversion program. They cannot have any prior convictions, be a felon, have certain misdemeanor sex offenses on their record, or be a government official who has committed an offense in their official capacity.
Tennessee Code 40-15-105 is the codification of pre-trial diversion, otherwise known as a suspended prosecution. An individual who has been charged with a crime may enter into a memorandum of understanding with the district attorney’s office in which the prosecution agrees to suspend pursuing a conviction in the case for a period not exceeding two years from the date of filing the memorandum. The individual charged with possession of narcotics must pay monthly fees and comply with the conditions stated in the memorandum of understanding.
Oftentimes, these conditions involve not breaking the law or having future arrests, completing community service and alcohol and drug evaluations, going through treatment, and successfully completing classes designed to improve one’s understanding of the law and the consequences that come with breaking it. If the individual meets all requirement in the memorandum of understanding and pays the associated fees, the case is dismissed. After the successful completion of the diversion program and a dismissal of the charges, they may then pay an additional fee to request the removal of the offense from their public record.
The consequences for failing to complete a diversion program mean that the prosecution reactivates the case and possibly pursue more severe consequences. Individuals must take their participation in a pre-trial judicial diversion program seriously. Diversion in Tennessee is often referred to as deferred adjudication. Tennessee Code 40-35-13 is the statute covering discharging dismissal under deferred adjudication.
An individual may also be sentenced to probation. Once they have completed the terms of their probation, they may pay a monthly fee and request that those charges are expunged. Like a pre-trial diversion, the consequences are severe if the individual fails to complete their probation and can find themselves in additional trouble with the law or failing to meet the requirements of the memorandum of understanding.
A charge for drug possession is not something to be taken lightly. However, the law does provide a means for first-time offenders to reconcile their actions and demonstrate good behavior in exchange for an adjudicated sentence. Diversion programs are, however, difficult to receive as it often takes an attorney to advocate for alleged offenders. Let an attorney work on your behalf during these difficult times.