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May 16, 2011

3 Strikes Law Lands Marijuana Offender in Prison for Life

A Louisiana Judge made national news this month after sentencing a 35 year old man to life in prison after his 4th conviction for possession of marijuana. The criminal defendant had previously been given probation in each of his prior convictions, but the court applied the “three strikes laws” to sentence him as a career criminal and sentenced him to life in prison.
One might wonder if such a similar result could occur in Tennessee. Tennessee has a repeat offender law that is found in Tennessee Code Annotated 40-35-120 that allows for a punishment of life without the possibility of parole on a third conviction: however such statute is limited to repeat violent offenses.
While those charged with marijuana offenses in Tennessee may find some peace in the fact that Tennessee’s “three strikes law” is applicable only to violent offenders, all prior convictions can be used for enhancement purposes. While life imprisonment may not be a possible outcome down the road for a marijuana offender, each conviction may increase the sentencing range and the percentage of mandatory prison time before release eligibility. See Tennessee Code Annotated 40-35-101 et seq.
If you are charged with a violation of the law in Middle Tennessee, you should call and speak with an experienced criminal attorney. Vince Wyatt, David Raybin, or Ben Raybin may be reached at 615.256.6666.