Memphis, Tennessee area courts have some of the busiest criminal dockets in the country, handling over 100,000 criminal cases a year. Many of these cases are for the misdemeanor offense of marijuana possession. In Memphis, misdemeanor marijuana possession is a Class A misdemeanor punishable up to 11 months and 29 days. There is also a $250 fine for first offenses, a $500 fine for second offenses, and a $1000 fine for third or more offenses.
Many individuals charged with marijuana possession will want to know if the charge is going on their record permanently. It depends. If the individual has not been convicted of a crime previously, they will likely be eligible to enroll in a program called judicial diversion (usually just called diversion). Diversion is a Tennessee law that allows qualified first-time offenders to have the entire record of the case dismissed and removed upon completion of probation. Since the punishment for marijuana possession is 11 months and 29 days, that is the length of time for probation.
Diversion does require a guilty plea, but judgment is then suspended so the individual can start and complete probation. Having the judgment suspended means that the individual is not convicted. The charge remains pending during probation, and will be removed once probation is completed and the charge is dismissed.
During probation the individual will have to, first and foremost, stay out of trouble. Getting charged with another crime will result in a violation of probation and possibly being sentenced to jail for the entire 11 months and 29 days. There will be conditions of probation such as community service, drug offender classes, and random and frequent drug screens. A failed drug screen will also result in a violation. The individual must also pay court costs, fines, and probation fees.
When probation is completed, the individual comes back to court to have the case formally dismissed by the judge. All of the aforementioned costs and fines must be paid by this point. Upon dismissal, an expungment order will be prepared for the lawyers and the judge to sign. This order authorizes the destruction of all public records relating to the offense. Furthermore, under Tennessee law the individual may answer “no" to any question regarding whether they have ever been convicted or even charged with a crime.
For a person charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession in the Memphis area, diversion is the best way to insure that the charged is properly disposed of and stay off his or her record. It takes some time and some money, but if successfully completed the charge will be removed permanently. All Memphis area courts participate in diversion, including Downtown, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, and Millington. If you have been charged with possessing marijuana or other drugs in Memphis, please contact a Memphis marijuana possession lawyer for more information.