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5 Common Misdemeanors in Tennessee

Criminal charges in Tennessee are divided into misdemeanor and felony charges. Misdemeanor charges are the less serious of the two and are the more common type prosecuted in local courts. Nevertheless, these charges can lead to serious consequences that can affect the rest of your life. They can involve jail time, heavy financial penalties, probation, and other penalties based on the nature of your offense, such as the loss of your driver’s license and court-ordered programs such as substance abuse testing and treatment or completion of anger management classes. Convictions can leave you with a permanent criminal record making it difficult to get a job, rent an apartment, or obtain a professional license when a background check is used to determine your eligibility.

At Eldridge and Cravens, PC, we understand how vital it is to preserve your good name, reputation, and clean record when facing any kind of criminal offense allegation. Our Knoxville criminal defenders take all cases seriously, knowing that the job we do can dramatically affect the outcome of your case and thus your entire future. That is why we are totally committed to building the most effective defense possible for every client and remaining a stable and constructive legal presence for everyone in the greater Knoxville community.

What Are the Most Common Misdemeanor Charges in Tennessee?

Misdemeanor charges in our state are broken down into three classifications. These consist of Class A, Class B, and Class C misdemeanors. Class A is the most serious, carrying the most severe potential penalties while Class B and C are made up what are considered to be less serious or petty offenses.

The most common misdemeanor charges in the state include:

  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
  • Simple possession of controlled substances
  • Petty theft
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Domestic violence assault


Driving while intoxicated on a first, second, or third offense is charged as a misdemeanor. A first offense DWI is charged as a Class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. In the case of DWI, you will also face a license suspension. Subsequent offenses may carry harsher sentences.

Simple Possession of Controlled Substances

A first offense simple possession of a controlled substance refers to your possession of an illegal drug for your own personal use. This means large quantities usually intended for sale or distribution were not found in your possession. This misdemeanor charge can involve such drugs as marijuana, cocaine, other street drugs as well as fraudulently obtained prescription drugs such as Vicodin, Percocet, and more. It is also charged as a Class A misdemeanor.

Petty Theft

In Tennessee, petty theft is the act of stealing goods or services valued at $500 or less. Theft of goods or services above this value are generally charged as felonies. Petty theft is charged and punished as a Class A misdemeanor.

Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct involves causing a public disturbance or alarm. It can be caused by fighting or engaging in threatening actions, refusing to disperse when directed to by authorities, engaging in behavior that is hazardous or offensive or in unreasonably loud behavior. It is generally charged as a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $50.

Domestic Violence Assault

Domestic abuse committed against a family or household member may be charged as a Class B or Class A misdemeanor depending on the circumstances. Class A misdemeanor charges are generally charged when bodily injury or the threat of imminent bodily injury occurs. Class B misdemeanor charges occur when making some type of physical contact that the alleged victim could deem “extremely offensive or provocative.” Class A misdemeanor penalties are as above mentioned. Class B misdemeanor penalties include up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. Repeat offenses may result in longer jail sentences and increased fines.

Are You Facing a Tennessee Misdemeanor Charge?

If you are facing any of the above misdemeanor charges or any other criminal charge in Knoxville, we urge you to enlist the help of a qualified defender. Eldridge and Cravens, PC offers legal representation backed by 55 years of shared experience. That experience includes conducting trials in court as well as handling all types of hearings, negotiations with prosecutors, and thorough investigations into all aspects of your case.

Need criminal defense legal representation? Phone us at (865) 544-2010 for a free case analysis or contact us online today.