Six arrested in bust of coordinated drug operation in Overton County, Tennesse

On December 7, 2017, the TBI Newsroom reported that a joint investigation between the Bureau, the Overton County Sheriff’s Department, and multiple local law enforcement agencies led to the arrest of six individuals for the sale and delivery of various narcotics.  Three of the defendants are from Cookeville.  Two of the defendants are from Livingston.  One of the defendants is from Byrdstown.  The charges include the sale of a Schedule II drug, the sale of a Schedule III drug, and the sale of a Schedule IV drug in a Drug-Free School Zone.

The sale of a Schedule II drug is a Class B felony if the drug is cocaine or meth in an amount over 0.5 grams or if a deadly weapon was carried or used during the commission of the offense.  See T.C.A. § 39-17-417.  Otherwise, it’s a Class C felony (with the exception of large amounts).  Depending on a defendant’s classification, the sentencing range for a Class B felony is eight to thirty years and the sentencing range for a Class C felony is three to fifteen years.

With the exception of large amounts, the sale of a Schedule III drug is a Class D felony, which depending on a defendant’s classification, carries a sentence of two to twelve years.

Finally, the sale of a Schedule IV drug in a Drug-Free School Zone is a Class C felony if the drug is flunitrazepam.  Otherwise, it’s a Class D felony (once again, see the exception for large amounts).  Also, the fact that it’s in a drug-free school zone enhances the punishment.  See T.C.A. § 39-17-432.  Specifically, a defendant convicted of a drug offense within a drug-free school zone is required to serve at least the minimum sentence for the defendant’s appropriate range of sentence.  While the minimum sentence varies based on the defendant’s classification and the class of the felony, this enhancement is quite huge.  For example, for a Range I defendant, a Class C felony carries a sentence of three to six years with parole eligibility at 30%.  Accordingly, a Range I defendant serving a Class C felony sentence could possibly get out after serving only 0.9 years.  On the other hand, if the offense occurred within a drug-free school zone, the defendant would have to serve three years before being eligible for parole.

Given the serious time that these defendants are facing, hopefully they’ll lawyer up as soon as possible.

Cookeville mother charged with being the getaway driver for her juvenile sons in Algood Walmart theft

The Herald Citizen reports that a Cookeville woman has been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and theft of property over $1,000 for acting as the getaway driver for her juvenile sons.  Allegedly, the 11-year-old and 12-year-old boys had a cart full of goods at the Algood Walmart, and after they were stopped by a greeter who asked for a receipt, the boys said their mom had it in the car and ran away.  According to the Herald Citizen, the warrant states that the mother admitted that the boys were her sons, that she knew they were stealing, and that everyone in her household had stolen from Walmart.

Under Tennessee Code Annotated 37-1-156, contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a Class A misdemeanor.  It carries a penalty of up to 11 months, 29 days in jail, and up to a $2,500 fine.  T.C.A. § 40-35-111.  Theft of property over $1,000 is a Class E felony, carrying a sentence of one to six years, depending on range, and up to a $3,000 fine.  T.C.A. § 39-14-105; T.C.A. § 40-35-11.

In addition to the criminal punishments the mother is facing, it is extremely likely that the Department of Children’s Services will take out a petition to find the children dependent and neglected.  DCS is often tougher to deal with than the district attorney’s office (and for good reason).  She likely won’t get her kids back until she proves to DCS that this will never happen again.

Several recent arrests in Cookeville, TN

The Herald Citizen reports several recent arrests in Putnam County, Tennessee, including burglary, theft of $1000 or less, simple possession, vandalism, aggravated assault, DUI, driving on suspended, drug paraphernalia, and evading arrest.  Here is what those defendants may be facing.  If you’re facing these or other charges, talk with a lawyer.  Every case is unique.

Burglary (T.C.A. § 39-14-402)

A person commits a burglary who, without the effective consent of the property owner,

(1) Enters a building other than a habitation (or any portion thereof) not open to the public, with intent to commit a felony, theft or assault;
(2) Remains concealed, with the intent to commit a felony, theft or assault, in a building;
(3) Enters a building and commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft or assault; or
(4) Enters any freight or passenger car, automobile, truck, trailer, boat, airplane or other motor vehicle with intent to commit a felony, theft or assault or commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft or assault.

According to the news story, the defendant allegedly broke into a storage unit.  So, he allegedly violated subsection (1), (2), and/or (3), which is a Class D Felony.  The sentence for a Class D Felony is two to twelve years, depending on one’s range, and a fine of up to $5,000.  Plus, there is likely to be restitution.  It looks like the defendant could also be charged with a violation of subsection (4), a Class E Felony.  It carries a sentence of one to six years with up to a $3000 fine.  Depending on the facts, the defense may be able to talk the state down to a trespassing charge or dropping the burglary charge with a plea to theft under $1000.

Theft $1000 or less (T.C.A. § 39-14-103, -105)

A person commits theft of property if, with the intent to deprive the owner of the property, the person knowingly obtains or exercises control over the property without the owner’s effective consent.  The penalty for theft depends on the value of what is taken.  Theft of property or services valued at $1000 or less is a Class A Misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of 11 months, 29 days, and a maximum fine of $2,500.  Misdemeanor theft often pleas to probation, but everything depends on the specific facts and circumstances of the case.  If the District Attorney’s Office is dropping a felony charge, such as burglary, they may want some time served in exchange for dropping the higher charge.

Simple Possession (T.C.A. § 39-17-418)

The simple possession of an unlawful drug without a valid prescription is, with a few exceptions, a Class A misdemeanor.  That means it carries an 11 month, 29 day maximum sentence and a $2500 maximum fine.  Unlike most non-drug offense misdemeanors, drug offenses also carry mandatory minimum fines.  See T.C.A. § 39-17-428.  The simple possession of marijuana or hashish carries a $250 minimum fine for the first offense, a $500 minimum fine for the second offense, and a $1000 minimum fine for the third or subsequent offense.  The simple possession of another drug carries a $750 minimum fine for the first offense, a $850 minimum fine for the second offense, and a $1000 minimum fine for the third or subsequent offense.

Like theft under $1000, simple possession often gets offers of 11/29 probation.  However, you should always consult an attorney to negotiate with a DA.  A lengthy criminal history or several other crimes may result in a worse offer.  On the other hand, someone with a clean record and a small amount of certain drugs may be able to negotiate some good behavior probation.  It is so fact specific that you need to talk with a lawyer for more information.

Vandalism (T.C.A. § 39-14-408)

A person commits vandalism when he damages or destroys property.  Like theft, the level of punishment depends on the value of the damage done to the property.  Interestingly, “value” is determined by the fair market value of the property at the time and place of the offense.  See T.C.A. § 39-11-106(a)(36).  Replacement value should only be used if fair market value cannot be established.  This often comes up in both theft and vandalism cases.

For example, suppose someone damages a television that cost $1200 three years ago.  At first glance, it seems like they would be guilty of vandalism over $1000.  However, in the past three years, the value of the TV has most likely declined below $1000.  While it’s the State’s burden to prove value, your lawyer may be able to use Ebay and other price lists to convince the district attorney that you should really be charged with vandalism under $1000.

Aggravated Assault (T.C.A. § 39-13-102)

Aggravated assault is an intentional, knowing, or reckless assault that results in serious bodily injury to another, the death of another, or involved the use or display of a deadly weapon.  An aggravated assault also occurs when someone intentionally or knowingly strangles or attempts to strangle another.  An assault is intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another or intentionally or knowingly causing another to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury or causing physical contact that a reasonable person would regard as extremely offensive or provocative.  See T.C.A. § 39-13-101.

Most types of aggravated assault are Class C Felonies, which carry sentences of three to fifteen years, depending on range, and a fine of up to $10000.  Some types of aggravated assault are Class D Felonies, which carry sentences of two to twelve years, depending on range, and a fine of up to $5000.

Aggravated assault is often difficult to plea to a lower offense.  Like many district attorney’s offices, the district attorney in Cookeville often takes a hard stance against violent crime.  Of course, everything is very factual.  Sometimes, the victim started it or played just as big of role in the altercation as the defendant.  In those cases, your attorney may be able to talk the DA into reducing the charges, or at least get you a plea with reduced time served.

Driving Under the Influence (T.C.A. § 55-10-401)

Driving on Suspended (T.C.A. § 55-50-504)

Driving on a cancelled, suspended, or revoked license is a Class B Misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class A misdemeanor for second or subsequent offense.  Thus, first offense driving on suspended carries a sentence of up to six months and a maximum fine of $500, and second or subsequent offense driving on suspended carries a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, and a maximum fine of $2500.

Like many misdemeanors, these can often be plead to supervised probation, and in some cases with defendants with good records, they can be plead to unsupervised probation after a period of time on supervised probation and with the payment of all fines and court costs.

Drug Paraphernalia (T.C.A. § 39-17-425)

Drug paraphernalia for use or intent to use is a Class A Misdemeanor.  Drug paraphernalia to deliver or with intent to deliver or to manufacture with intent to deliver is a Class E Felony.  Most drug paraphernalia cases are charged as misdemeanor paraphernalia.  So, they carry sentences of up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and fines of up to $2,500 dollars.  They also have minimum fines of $150 for the first conviction and $250 for second or subsequent convictions.

Normally, drug paraphernalia pleads to an 11/29 suspended sentence on supervised probation.  Sometimes, you may be able to get a slightly better deal, such as waiving court costs or good behavior probation, depending on the facts of your case.  As always, talk with a lawyer.

If you are unfortunate enough to be charged with the felony version of drug paraphernalia, you are looking at a potential sentence of one to six years, depending on range, and a potential fine of up to $3,000.  The minimum fine is also higher: $1,000 for a first offense and $1500 for a second or subsequent offense.

Felony drug paraphernalia is often accompanied by more serious charges.  If they think you’re distributing drug paraphernalia, it’s often because they think you’re distributing large amounts drugs.  So normally, if you’re charged with felony drug paraphernalia, you have even more serious offenses to worry about.

Evading Arrest (T.C.A. § 39-16-603)

Evading arrest requires intentionally concealing oneself or fleeing by any means of locomotion from a law enforcement officer if the person knows the officer is attempting to arrest him or if the person has been arrested.  If the person flees while operating a motor vehicle, it is a Class E Felony.  If the person’s flight creates a risk of death or injury to innocent bystanders, it is a Class D Felony.  If the person just runs on foot from the police, it’s a Class A Misdemeanor.

A person charged with Class D Felony evading arrest faces a two to twelve year sentence, depending on range, and up to a $5000 fine.  A person charged with Class E Felony evading arrest faces a one and six year sentence, depending on range, and up to a $3000 fine.  Misdemeanor evading arrest carries an 11/29 sentence with up to a $2500 fine.

Evading arrest is fact specific on what the DA will want to do with you.  If you put an officer or others at risk of injury, the DA may want to nail you.  Alternatively, if you’re “big boned” like me and made a sad, failed attempt at fleeing on foot, the DA and the officers may find your attempt somewhat amusing and offer you a probation plea.

As always, talk with a lawyer.  It cannot be emphasized enough that every case is different.  Your mileage may vary and you may be able to get a better or worse deal depending on your case, your history, the DA’s caseload, etc.  Or, you may say “screw a plea deal” and want to take it to trial.  However you proceed, don’t wait to speak with an attorney.



Upper Cumberland Law Firm Websites

[blog in progress]

It’s important that you have easy access to information on the various lawyers and law firms throughout the Upper Cumberland and Sequatchie Valley.  If you’re an attorney and your website isn’t on the list, please email me your name and website.

Cumberland County (Crossville)

Fields and Tollett

Kevin Bryant

Looney, Looney, & Chadwell, PLLC

Margaret Powers

Patton & Hyder

William Ridley

DeKalb County (Smithville)

Buck & Buck

Jeremy Trapp

Mingy Bryant

Fentress County (Jamestown)

Mathis, Bates, & Klinghard

Steven Girsky

Walker & Walker

Grundy County (Altamont)

Russell Mainord

Putnam County (Cookeville)

Beth Shipley

Byars Law Office

Callahan & Binkley, PLC

Chaffin, Chaffin, & Giaimo

Dale Bohannon

David Day

Dennis Oliver

Donna Simpson

Doug Dennis

Edward Graves, III

Frank Kessler

Fry, Fry, Knight, & Murphy

Greg Groth

Gothard Waters

Gwen Jones

Harry Lasser

Henry Fincher

Ian Deaderick

Jon Hatfield

Kelsy Miller

Kevin Christopher

Laurie Seber

Leftkovitz & Leftkovitz

Madewell, Jared, Halfacre, Williams, & Wilson

Martelia Crawford

Michael Knowlton

Scott Lytal

Seth Crabtree

Shipman & Crim

Steven Randolph

Shawn Wilson

Stacye Choate

Tessa Lawson

Tribble & Tribble

Wesley Bray

William Roberson

Wimberly Lawson

Van Buren County (Spencer)

Matt Bailey

Warren County (McMinnville)

Bud Sharp

Farrar, Holliman, & Medley

Galligan & Newman

White County (Sparta)

Cindy Morgan

Griffin & Davis, PLLC

Hutson & Hutson, PLLC


Other useful links:

Best Tennessee Legal Blogs

Tennessee Benchbooks



Putnam County, Tennessee

Check out the following posts about Putnam County and Cookeville, Tennessee:


Lawyer in Cookeville, Tennessee:

Court Information

Cookeville Criminal Defense Attorney

DUI Lawyer in Cookeville, Tennessee

Cookeville Marijuana Attorney



$50 Power of Attorney

$150 Simple Will

$200 General Sessions Criminal Defense

$750 Uncontested Divorce Without Children, $1,000 Uncontested Divorce With Children


Miscellaneous Posts:

Cookeville mother charged with being the getaway driver for her juvenile sons in Algood Walmart theft (Nov. 19, 2017)

Several recent arrests in Cookeville, TN (Nov. 3, 2017)

Gainesboro man arrested for allegedly having sex in a bathroom at the Putnam County Fair (Aug. 12, 2017)

Putnam County jury convicts Cookeville man of aggravated robbery and burglary (Aug. 11, 2017)

Cookeville man charged with 1st Degree Murder (Aug. 5, 2017)


Useful Links:

Best Tennessee Legal Blogs

Upper Cumberland Law Firm Websites