Legal insight from a criminal defense attorney is vital with a criminal charge

Criminal charges can affect your livelihood by hindering the way you make a living and possible time in jail. If you’ve been arrested, then consulting a criminal defense attorney should be the first step in a direction to avoid jail time and possible fines.

Common criminal law charges



Tennessee does not take driving under the influence lightly and it can bear consequences that may result in jail time, fines, and also driver’s license suspension. Gaining the help of a criminal defense attorney is the first step in a detailed process if you’ve been charged with a DUI.


Misdemeanor Charges

Depending on the type of offense, a misdemeanor charge in Tennessee can be a serious matter. Consequences can include time in jail, a fine, or both. Misdemeanors are punishable by jail terms of up to 11 months and 29 days.


Felony Charges

Felony charges carry more weight than misdemeanors and they are punishable by one year or more in state prison. In Tennessee, lawmakers designate felonies as class A, B, C, D, or E where Class A felonies have the most severe punishment.

Types of Criminal Charges

While the types of criminal charges, as well as the way these crimes are punished, don’t vary too much from a state to another; the way the laws that regulate these crimes are enforced can vary.


Below is a breakdown of the common offenses, divided into felonies and misdemeanors.


Nonetheless, speaking to a criminal defense attorney can help you better understand the implications of such charges.

Criminal Charges in Tennessee: an Overview

Here is the classification of felonies and misdemeanors in Tennessee.

Capital crime

Capital crimes are the most serious offenses that can be committed in Tennessee. They include felony murder and first-degree murder. The punishments for such crimes can vary, depending on the judgment received.


However, punishments might include life imprisonment and death.

Class A felony

After Capital Crimes, Class A felonies are the most severe charges. Punishments for such charges might include time in jail – from 15 to 60 years – and fines as high as $50,000. 

Class B felony

Class B felonies can lead to 8 to 30 years in prison, as well as fines not higher than $25,000, adjusted to what is provided by statute.

Class C felony

Class C felonies can lead to three to 15 years in jail, as well as fines not higher than $10,000. Again, this varies depending on what is provided by statute.

Class D felony 

Class D felonies can cause two to 12 years in prison, as well as fines as high as $5,000. This is unless otherwise provided by statute.

Class E felony

Class E felonies lead to one to six years in prison as well as fines as high as $3,000. It can be different depending on what is provided by statute.

Class A misdemeanor

Class A misdemeanor leads to 11 months and 29 days in jail or a fine not greater than $2,500. It can also lead to both punishments – unless otherwise provided by statute.

Class B misdemeanor

Class B misdemeanors might lead to six months in jail, as well as a fine as high as $500. One or both of the punishments might be enforced unless otherwise provided by statute.

Class C misdemeanor 

Class C misdemeanor can lead to 30 days in jail or a fine as high as $50. Again, both punishments might be enforced unless otherwise provided by statute.


Assaults are a form of violence that might cause harm or bodily injury to another, whether this might happen intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly. It is also applicable if another person reasonably fears bodily injury, again, either intentionally or knowingly. In Tennessee, Assault s classed as Class A misdemeanors and includes:


  • Domestic Assault – assault, violence, or abuse in a domestic setting 
  • Aggravated Assault – this is defined as an attempt to cause severe bodily harm to another person, disregarding human life. It can happen through the use of a deadly weapon, and it is often classed as a felony rather than a misdemeanor.



According to the Penal Code, Homicide is defined as a person “intentionally, knowingly, or with criminal negligence,” causing another individual’s death. The charge varies depending on the type of Homicide. 


  • Murder (First and Second Degree) – can be classed as capital or Class A felony, depending on how it is committed. It can happen through kidnapping, arson, robbery or burglary, obstruction or retaliation, terroristic threat, or Sexual Assault.
  • Manslaughter (Voluntary and Involuntary) – manslaughter refers to the act of killing another person under circumstances that would impede the offender to think reasonably – intentionally or unintentionally.
  • Vehicular Homicide – vehicular manslaughter or Homicide is killing another person committed through the murderous or negligent operation of a motor.
  • Reckless Homicide – it can be enforced when the perpetrator is aware of their actions or acting against their duty as a citizen.
  • Criminal Negligent Homicide – it is applicable when the offender acts in a reckless, negligent, or dangerous way and causes the death of another person. 


Drug-Related Charges

Drug-related charges are the ones referring to criminal offenses perpetuated when a drug is involved. However, the way they are charged depends on a case-by-case basis. Indeed, if it is a first-time drug possession charge, this will be treated as a misdemeanor, independently on the type of drug involved. Conversely, if this is a repeated offense or the offender owns over half an ounce, it will be treated as a felony.

Property Crimes

Property crime involves a wide spectrum of crimes that might be charged differently, depending on the severity of the act. Some common property crimes are theft and arson, all aimed at destroying or damaging another person’s property.


  • Burglary – this is classed as a Class D or E felony and involves accessing another person’s property with the intent of a crime such as theft or arson. 
  • Theft – theft might classify as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the property’s value that has fallen victim to such a crime. For properties valued between $1,000 and $10,000, this act is considered a Class D felony. However, it can represent a more or less severe class, depending on the property’s value. 
  • Arson – this crime involves setting on fire a property – yours or another person’s property – and it is often classed as a Class D felony. 


Sex Crimes

Most sex crimes in Tennessee are classed as felonies and punished with a fine or time in jail, or both. There are various types of sex crimes, including the following ones. 


  • Rape – rape in Tennessee is considered a Class B felony, but it can be a Class A offense if this is perpetrated on a child.
  • Sexual Assault – happens when a person intentionally sexually touches another. It can involve sexual battery and aggravated sexual battery. It is judged and punished based on the circumstances.
  • Child Pornography – this is a form of child sexual exploitation, and, depending on circumstances, it can be classed as a Class A felony


DUI and Alcohol-Related Crimes

DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, is a crime that might be perpetrated when the offender drives or operates a motorized vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Regarding Tennessee DUI law, this crime is charged as a Class A misdemeanor if it happens for the first time. However, after the fourth time, it is treated as a Class E felony. 

Contact Mekis & Palombo

If you have specific questions or comments regarding your legal situation, feel free to contact our office to speak with a member of our staff.