In Tennessee, felonies are crimes punishable by one year or more in state prison. Tennessee lawmakers designate felonies as class A, B, C, D, or E.
Misdemeanors (less serious crimes) are punishable by jail terms of up to 11 months and 29 days.
For more information on misdemeanors in Tennessee, see Tennessee Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Class A Felony
After crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment, class A felonies are the most serious felonies in Tennessee. They are punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
(Tenn. Ann. Code § 40-35-111.)
For example, aggravated rape (rape that causes injury to the victim, or against a child under the age of 13, or where the defendant is armed with a weapon or aided by others) is a class A felony. (For more information on sex crimes in Tennessee and their penalties, see Tennessee Sexual Battery Laws.)
Class B Felony
In Tennessee, a class B felony is punishable by eight to 30 years’ imprisonment, as well as a fine of up to $25,000. (Tenn. Ann. Code § 40-35-111.)
Causing or allowing a child to engage in sexual acts for the purpose of making child pornography is an example of a class B felony. (For more information on this crime, see Child Enticement Laws in Tennessee.)
Class C Felony
People convicted of class C felonies can be sentenced to prison terms of three to 15 years, as well as fines of up to $10,000. (Tenn. Ann. Code § 40-35-111.)
Aggravated assault (intentionally causing serious injury to another) is a class C felony in Tennessee. (For more information on assault penalties, see Tennessee Aggravated Assault Laws.)
Class D Felony
A class D felony is punishable by two to 12 years’ imprisonment, and a fine of up to $5,000. (Tenn. Ann. Code § 40-35-111.)
Possession of between ten and 70 pounds of marijuana is a class D felony in Tennessee. For more information on marijuana possession offenses, see Tennessee Marijuana Laws.
Class E Felony
Class E felonies, the least serious felonies in Tennessee, are punishable by one to six years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $3,000. (Tenn. Ann. Code § 40-35-111.)
Theft of property worth more than $500 but less than $1,000 is a class E felony. (For more information on theft penalties, see Tennessee Petty Theft and Other Theft Laws.)
Statutes of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a time period during which the state must begin criminal prosecution. The statute of limitations begins to “run” when the crime is committed. More serious crimes have longer statutes of limitations and the most serious crimes (those punishable by death or life in prison) have no statute of limitations.
For more information, see Tennessee Criminal Statute of Limitations.
Obtaining Legal Advice and Representation
Being convicted of a felony has very serious consequences. In addition to time in prison and a fine, a felony record can make it hard to obtain (or keep) a job or a professional license. Felony convictions can also expose you to longer sentences in the future if you are ever convicted of another crime. The best way to avoid a conviction if you are charged with a felony in Tennessee is to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can tell you what to expect in court and how to prepare your case to protect your rights and give you the best chance of obtaining a good outcome.