Drug Possession at the Workplace: Understanding the Legal Consequences

Drug Possession at the Workplace: Understanding the Legal Consequences

Many Tennessee employers have enrolled in the Drug-Free Workplace Program and are actively conducting drug testing at the workplace. In the worst case scenario, you may be caught not just testing positive, but in possession of controlled substances. Drug possession at the workplace can have severe consequences. Your best option is to consult with an experienced Nashville criminal defense attorney at Byron Pugh Legal.

Let us discuss the issue of having drugs on your person at work and what you can do (and should not do) to fight the charges.

Can My Employer Search Me for Drugs?

Your employer does not have the right to perform a body search for drugs. However, they have the right to go through any drawers, file organizers or other pieces of furniture and storage units assigned to you. Since the employer owns these items, they have the right to access them at any moment.

Based on a positive drug test, your employer has the right to notify the police. With probable cause, a law enforcement officer has the right to frisk you and even search your vehicle for drugs.

You Must Not Flush the Drugs or Otherwise Try to Dispose of Them

Let us assume that your employer somehow identified drugs in your possession. They will definitely notify the police, because otherwise they may face accusations of allowing controlled substances on their premises.

Your first thought is: I will just flush the drugs and there will be no evidence against me. This is the wrong thing to do. The employer has already documented the presence of the drugs. They may have taken a photo with a mobile phone. Or there are witnesses who saw the respective products.

In this case, you will face the additional charge of tampering with evidence – a Class C felony punishable by 3 to 25 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.

What Are the Potential Legal Consequences of Drug Possession at the Workplace?

Tennessee law is clear on the matter of possession of controlled substances: It is a criminal offense to possess or casually exchange any controlled substance, with the exception of the situation when you possess a valid prescription issued by a healthcare practitioner in the course of their professional practice.

The offense is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. If you were caught in possession of any quantity of methamphetamine, the judge cannot waive the minimum 30 days jail sentence or change it to community service.

drug use at the workplace is prohibited

Can My Employer Fire Me Even If I Have a Prescription for the Drugs?

An experienced Nashville criminal defense attorney knows that some legally prescribed controlled substances may give side effects which make you unable to operate heavy machinery and motor vehicles.

Your employer may fire you – even without justification, since our state uses an at-will employment principle. Other employers will ask to see the prescription – if you refuse to show it, they may decide to terminate you.

This is a nuanced situation, with many aspects influencing the final outcome. You should always disclose all relevant facts to the lawyer during the initial consultation.

Impact of Drug Possession on Your Future Career

Being charged with drug possession at the workplace will definitely have a negative impact on your ability to seek a new job. Even if your attorney manages to get a favorable plea bargain or dismiss the charges, one thing is clear. You cannot rely on your employer as a reference for a future job.

Also, if a potential employer performs a background check on you, they are likely to find out that you were caught in possession of controlled substances at the workplace.

Ways to Defend Charge of Drug Possession at the Workplace

Cases of drug possession are not black or white. In many cases, there are valid defenses that would explain the presence of the controlled substances, such as:

  • You have a valid prescription and are using the substance according to the doctor’s instructions
  • The drugs were placed by somebody else in a drawer which is accessible by other people at work
  • You picked up the prescription drugs for a family member on that day

However, it is important to have legal representation from the very beginning of the case and not talk to anyone before consulting with a lawyer.

Schedule a Free Case Review with an Experienced Nashville Criminal Defense Attorney!

If your employer finds you in possession of drugs, this can open up several legal problems, apart from losing your job. Simple drug possession is a crime in our state and you may face months in jail and hefty fines.

The best action in this situation is contacting a skilled Nashville criminal defense attorney and presenting all the facts of your case openly and honestly. It is the only way the lawyer can find a strong defense line and protect your rights.

As a new client, you benefit from a free consultation, so call us today at 615-257-9705!

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