In Tennessee, crimes are divided into misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes, punishable by up to one year in jail and designated as class A, B, or C. Felonies are more serious crimes, punishable by one year or more in state prison. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-110 (2019).)
For more information on felonies in Tennessee, see Tennessee Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences.
In Tennessee, class A misdemeanors, the most serious misdemeanors, are punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. If lawmakers fail to classify a misdemeanor, then it is punishable as a class A misdemeanor. Simple marijuana possession, for example, is a class A misdemeanor under Tennessee’s laws. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-111 (2019).)
A class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both. For example, aggravated criminal trespass is a class B misdemeanor. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-111 (2019).)
Under Tennessee’s laws, class C misdemeanors are the least serious misdemeanors, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $50, or both. Public intoxication is an example of a class C misdemeanor. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-111 (2019).)
A statute of limitations is the period of time during which the state must begin criminal prosecution. The statute of limitations begins to “run” when the crime occurs. In Tennessee, most misdemeanors have one-year statutes of limitations. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-2-102 (2019).)
A criminal conviction, even for a misdemeanor, can have serious and lasting consequences. If you are accused of committing a crime in Tennessee, you should talk to a local criminal defense attorney, no matter what the charges. An experienced attorney will be able to tell you how your case is likely to be treated in court, depending on the assigned judge and prosecutor, the law, and the facts of your case. An attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system and obtain the best possible outcome in your case.