Tennessee state authorities are often involved in narcotics crimes investigation and, either directly or indirectly, in the trials of those standing accused of drug charges. Understanding the nature of these state organizations and their limitations under the law is often essential to anyone seeking to disprove spurious narcotics accusations.
The Drug Investigation Division of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations is one of the most influential organizations in the state. The TBI's website states that the DID has original jurisdiction in opening a variety of drug-related cases. Unlike more familiar forms of jurisdiction, such as territories of police forces and subjects of courts, this refers to the division's prerogative to begin investigations. These cases are often pursued with the cooperation of federal and local law enforcement agencies.
The Nashville police are one example of a local law enforcement body with a specialized drug force. The Nashville city website lists three major sections within the police department's narcotics unit:
- A liaison to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency
- Groups focused on preventing drug crimes
- The main unit
Individuals accused of minor or moderate drug crimes in Tennessee may never come under the investigation of these specialized forces. Infractions involving small quantity marijuana possession, for example, are often handled without involving large government bodies or special units.
Groups like the DID and the Nashville police force's narcotics section have extensive power, and they are often well within their rights when exercising investigative and jurisdictional prerogatives. However, there are peculiarities of drug law that lead these enforcement groups to pursue tactics and strategies that might, in many situations, be considered unethical, inappropriate or even extralegal. It is up to criminal defense attorneys to defend their clients from this type of maverick behavior and the questionable evidence it provides.