How to Understand Types of Criminal Charges in Tennessee

Criminal Charges Will Affect Your Livelihood if Convicted

Understanding Criminal Charges and Speaking With a Criminal Defense Attorney Is a Key First Step

Tennessee criminal law divides different criminal offenses into two categories.

They are either classed as a felony or they are classed as a misdemeanor.

Felonies are all of the serious crimes that have an impact on lives, as well as the property of others. The kind of crimes that you would be committing in order to be facing a felony criminal charge include DUI, assault, drug crimes, rape, kidnapping, robbery, manslaughter, and first-degree or second-degree murder. Felony criminal crimes against properties include burglary, credit card fraud, arson, and theft.

The Tennessee Criminal Code further divides up felonies into different classes, which indicates the severity of the crime.

Of course, the more severe the crime, the more severe the punishment. For example, a minor who steals from a store won’t get charged with the same charges that someone will get if they were to take a gun into a store, start shooting, and then robs the cash register.

Knowing what kind of criminal charges you could be facing will give you an idea of the severity of the crime. These can all vary, though, as some circumstances can impact the penalty that could potentially be faced.

Common Types of Criminal Charges

In Tennessee, felony crimes are usually punishable with a year or more jail time. This can vary depending on a number of things, such as how severe the crime was and how many other people were impacted. You could also face fines as well as other penalties, such as not being allowed to possess a firearm ever again.

  • Killing a person is a very severe felony charge, regardless of what the circumstances are. If you are found guilty of first-degree murder, then it could mean life imprisonment and possibly the death sentence.
  • Assault is another serious crime in the state of Tennessee. It will depend on the circumstances of the case, but you will face felony charges and could be looking to serve up to fifteen years in jail.
  • Rape or sexual assault is a felony charge, without question. You could face from one year to sixty years in jail if facing aggravated rape, and you will be put on the sex offender register for life.
  • Driving under the influence is something that is very dangerous, putting the lives of others at risk. As a result, there is a mandatory jail time of 48-hours to seven days in Tennessee, but depending on the circumstances, could mean nearly a year in prison. There are also fins of up to $1500, and the chance that your driver’s license will be revoked.
  • Drug crimes can vary in their severity. If you are caught with something like marijuana, then you won’t face jail. However, if you are found with something like opioid pills, especially if trying to cross state lines with them, then it will mean time in federal prison.
  • Kidnapping, whether children or adults, can lead to some Class C criminal charges in Tennessee. A Class C criminal charge will mean that you face no less than three years in prison, but no more than fifteen years in prison. There could also be a penalty of up to $10,000 if found guilty.
  • Robbery, when stealing something of value from another, especially with force, can mean severe punishment. If you are convicted in Tennessee of even the most basic kind of robbery, then you can face anything from three to fifteen years in prison, and deal with large fines, reaching up to $10,000. 


No matter the charge you are facing – from a misdemeanor or a felony, criminal charges matter. They can cause a number of problems for your professional life, as well as your personal life.

That is why having a criminal defense attorney on your side to help to protect you and who will give the case a great level of urgency and focus is key. With expertise in a specific area, a criminal defense attorney will be able to advise you on the best course of action.

Working with an attorney that is seasoned in the courtroom is another must for a criminal charge so they can passionately work to defend you through the case and the trial.

The help that a criminal defense attorney can bring can make a big difference to your life and the consequences of your actions.

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