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Drug Crime Lawyer

In Texas, there is a wide range of drug-related activities that are considered drug crimes. The most common drug crimes are drug possession, drug delivery, and drug manufacturing. The penalties associated with each type of drug crime vary based on the type of drugs and the number of drugs involved, along with a variety of other factors. Some drug charges are misdemeanors and some are felonies, but aggravating circumstances can increase the severity of the charges and even convert a state drug charge into a federal crime. The Texas Controlled Substances Act – or Health and Safety Code Title 6, Subtitle C, Chapter 481 – governs nearly every drug crime charge in the state.

Having any kind of drug conviction on your criminal record can have severe consequences, regardless of the type of drug involved. Therefore, if you are arrested and/or charged with a drug crime in Pearland, Houston, or any of the surrounding areas, the best and most important thing you can do is contact a drug crime lawyer as soon as possible for help.

Types of Drug Charges

In Texas, drug crimes are segmented into the following main categories:

  1. Possession: It is a crime to possess any illicit controlled substance, such as cocaine, marijuana, or heroin. If you possess any illegal drugs, you can be charged with simple possession or possession with the intent to distribute them. The distinction between these two charges is often made based on the volume of the drug you have in your possession. If you only have a very small amount of a controlled substance (the amount you would generally have on hand for personal use), you may only be charged with simple possession; but, if the amount in your possession is large and significant (as defined specifically by weight under the law), you will likely be charged with possession with the intent to sell or distribute.
  2. Paraphernalia: Drug paraphernalia consists of materials and equipment used to grow, manufacture, create, make, use, or hide illegal drugs. Examples include syringes, rolling papers, bongs, pipes, and more. If you possess any paraphernalia or you cause it to be manufactured or delivered, you can be charged for it.
  3. Fabricación: When you manufacture illegal drugs, you will likely face fines and jail time. To prove manufacturing charges up, however, a prosecutor must first be able to prove you were (1) in possession of the items needs to manufacture the drugs and (2) that you had an intent to use those items to manufacture illegal drugs.
  4. Delivery: This is a more serious crime than possession because it involves the transportation of illegal drugs in very large amounts. Distribution means delivering a controlled substance by transferring the drug to someone else, including by selling it. Actual delivery occurs when you physically hand a drug to another person. Constructive delivery occurs when there is no physical handoff between you and another person but you are still in control of the illegal substance and facilitate its delivery. Depending on the facts of your case, you could face life in prison for drug delivery so please take any related charge very seriously.

Drug Possession

Drug possession is one of the most common drug crimes in Texas. Texas law defines possession as the actual custody, care, control, or management of the illicit substance. This means you can be charged with drug possession even if the drugs are not physically on you if they are stored in a location that you control or manage. Even if the drugs aren’t yours but you have shared them with a group of people, you can still be charged with possession as long as you used them.

If you are charged with drug possession, to win your case a prosecutor must be able to prove you knowingly or intentionally possessed the controlled substance. If you did not know the drugs were on you or that someone put drugs in a location you controlled where they were seized but you did not know, you may have a defense to a drug possession charge.

Texas Drug Schedules and Drug Penalty Groups

In Texas, drugs are subcategorized into both categories or schedules and then again into penalty groups. An experienced drug crime attorney can explain your charges and what penalties you may be looking at as a result.

Drug Schedules

The Texas Controlled Substances Act breaks down drugs into five separate categories called schedules. The Act groups the substances together based on how addictive or dangerous they are.

  • Schedule I: Drugs that have no medical use and are extremely addictive, including but not limited to heroin, ecstasy, mushrooms, LSD, and peyote.
  • Schedule II: Drugs that may have some medical use but also have a high risk of addiction, including but not limited to cocaine, opium, Ritalin, methadone, oxycontin, morphine, PCP, and meth.
  • Schedule III: Drugs known to have a medical use but also known to be abused recreationally, including but not limited to ketamine, Vicodin, codeine, and steroids.
  • Schedule IV: Drugs typically prescribed for medical use but carry a risk of abuse, including but not limited to Xanax, Valium, and Darvocet.
  • Schedule V: The least dangerous controlled substances that still carry some potential for abuse, including but not limited to cough suppressants with codeine and anti-diarrheal medication.

Drug Penalties

Texas law creates six penalty groups (PGs) and then there is a separate penalty group just for marijuana:

  1. Penalty Group 1: Charges related to heavily controlled narcotics that typically have no medical use such as cocaine, meth, opioids, and peyote fall in this PG. Penalties for offenses committed that fall within this group can start with a minimum of two years in prison with a $10,000 fine and be extended up to life in prison with a $250,000 fine.
  2. Penalty Group 1-A: Charges related to LSD and its derivatives fall in this PG. LSD volume is calculated by unit rather than weight. Possessing less than 20 units of LSD is a state jail felony, possessing 20 – 80 units is a 3rd-degree felony, and possessing 80 – 40,000 units is a 2nd-degree felony. Being caught with 4,000 to 8,000 units is considered a 1st-degree felony.
  3. Penalty Group 2: Charges related to hallucinogenic substances such as PCP, ecstasy, hashish, and mescaline fall in this PG. Penalties for offenses committed that fall within this group can start with a minimum of two years in prison with a $50,000 fine and be extended up to life in prison with a $250,000 fine if you are found to have 400 grams or more of an applicable controlled substance.
  4. Penalty Group 2-A: Charges related to substances that mimic cannabinoids, commonly referred to as K2 and Spice are classified under this PG.
  5. Penalty Group 3: Charges related to prescription drugs that have the potential for abuse are classified under this PG, including but not limited to opioids, benzodiazepines, and sedatives. The minimum sentence is a year in jail with a $4,000 fine with a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail and a fine of $10,000 for having 200 or more grams of the applicable controlled substance.
  6. Penalty Group 4: Charges related to prescription medications and chemical compounds not in PG1 with potential for drug abuse, with penalties similar to those under PG3.
  7. Marijuana: Commonly referred to by a variety of nicknames like pot, weed, and grass, marijuana is recognized as a completely separate matter in terms of charges and penalties and is illegal in Texas in any form.

Drug Crime Defense

Regardless of what type of drug charge or charges you are facing, you need to be as honest as possible with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The more your lawyer knows, the better job they can do for you in obtaining records from the government and negotiating with the prosecutor. There are also a variety of legal defenses our drug crimes lawyers can allege on your behalf, including but not limited to:

  • Lack of knowledge
  • Mistook the drugs for something else
  • You have a legal prescription for the medication
  • You were under duress, forced, or coerced
  • There was an illegal search and/or seizure
  • The authorities did not have a warrant
  • The drugs were not yours and belonged to someone else
  • The substance at issue is not a controlled substance

Frequently Asked Questions: Texas Drug Law

How many years in jail for drug possession?

The number of years you can be sentenced to serve in jail for drug possession in Texas varies based upon the amount in your possession and the type of drug. For example, a Class C misdemeanor comes with fines of up to $500 and no jail time but a 1st-degree felony comes with federal prison confinement of five to 99 years and/or fines between $50,000 and $250,000.

How do you beat a possession charge in Texas?

An experienced criminal defense attorney can beat a possession charge in Texas by successfully arguing that one of the available defenses applies to your case. These defenses include a lack of knowledge, that you mistook the drugs for something else, that you have a legal prescription for the medication, an illegal search and/or seizure, the authorities did not have a warrant and more.

Is possession of drugs a felony?

Possession of drugs can be a misdemeanor or a felony. It depends on the volume of the drug you possess and what classification of drug it is. All seven classifications of drugs in Texas can rise to the level of being a felony if you possess enough of them. For example, if you are caught with four ounces to less than five pounds of marijuana, you are charged with a state jail felony. Upward in volume from there reaches a 1st-degree felony for possessing more than 2,000 pounds of pot.

Do first-time drug offenders go to jail in Texas?

First-time offenses involving drug possession may or may not involve a more lenient sentence. The court will look at your previous criminal record and look to see if the offense was committed in a designated drug-free zone such as within 1,000 feet of a daycare, playground, or school. One important potential resolution your criminal defense attorney should consider is what is called pretrial intervention or pretrial diversion. This is a type of deferred adjudication wherein an offender can complete certain programs and requirements to have their case dismissed.

How to get a drug trafficking charge dismissed?

Your drug crimes lawyer can get a drug trafficking charge dismissed by proving the charges never really applied to you in the first place because the drugs were not yours or that a lab made an error and the substance isn’t an illegal drug. After that, you should attempt to prove you did not intend to distribute the drugs in your possession. Your lawyer can also allege the evidence in your case was obtained illegally through an illegal search or that the police planted the drugs on you. You can also get a drug trafficking charge dismissed if you were not read your Miranda Rights when you were arrested.

Contact a Drug Crime Attorney at J.D. Silva & Associates

If you or someone you know has been arrested and/or accused of a drug crime, you must seek the counsel of an experienced Pearland drug crimes defense attorney right away. The criminal defense lawyers of J.D. Silva & Associates routinely handle these matters as part of our everyday practice and we are ready to put our experience and skill to work for you.

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