While some states are taking steps to reduce the penalties for drug crimes, Texas continues to take these offenses seriously. Drug possession convictions carry significant penalties, including imprisonment, costly fines, and other lasting consequences. Those facing a drug possession charge for the first time often feel overwhelmed and anxious about what to expect from the criminal justice process. However, before your mind jumps to the worst-case scenario, reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your situation and your options for obtaining the most favorable outcome possible. Whether your attorney can have the drug possession charges dropped or reduced, you can trust that they will advocate for your best interests at every turn.
How Texas Handles Drug Possession Offenses
The penalties for drug possession in Texas depend on the classification and quantity of the substance in question. In general, the more addictive the substance and the more of it there is, the more likely the defendant will face harsh penalties. Prosecutors must show that a quantity of a controlled substance was in the defendant’s possession in order to secure a conviction. According to Title 6, Section 481.002 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, “possession” means “care, custody, control, or management.”
Penalties for Drug Possession in Texas
Texas recognizes five “schedules” of controlled substances and four “penalty groups” that are used to determine the penalties for a drug possession conviction. Drugs included in Penalty Group 1 are those known to be the most addictive and dangerous, such as opioids, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Possessing less than one gram of one of these substances is considered a state jail felony, carrying a jail sentence ranging from six months to two years and a fine of up to $10,000. Larger quantities of a Penalty Group 1 substance carry more substantial consequences. On the other end of the spectrum, possessing less than 28 grams of a Penalty Group 4 substance, like a controlled prescription medication that could be abused, carries a penalty of up to six months in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
What About Marijuana?
Although several states have legalized marijuana in recent years, Texas continues to prosecute marijuana possession offenses. Even a small amount of marijuana determined to be in your possession can lead to criminal charges and penalties. Possessing less than two ounces of marijuana can be prosecuted as a Class B misdemeanor offense, leading to possible jail time, fines, and other restrictions.
Defensive Strategies for Alleged Drug Possession Offenses
As with any criminal matter, prosecutors must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. For drug possession cases, the state must show that you were knowingly and intentionally in possession of a controlled substance. This means that a police officer testifying that drugs were found in a vehicle may not be sufficient to prove your guilt—especially if there are no fingerprints on the container or other evidence of your “control” over the substance. Your attorney will work hard to establish sufficient doubt that the drugs found in your vehicle or home belonged to you. Without evidence to link you to “knowingly and intentionally” possessing the substance, the case may be dismissed.
Uncovering Rights Violations to Invalidate the Charges
When your criminal defense lawyer assesses your case, they will look at the aspects of your arrest to determine whether law enforcement violated your Constitutional rights in any way. The Constitution prohibits the unlawful search and seizure of your home or vehicle, meaning that officers cannot normally search your home or car without a warrant. Your attorney will look for any possible violations of your rights, working hard to use these failures as grounds for the dismissal of your case.
Keeping Your Future as Bright as Possible
Being arrested for drug possession can be stressful, especially if this is your first brush with the Texas criminal justice system. However, it’s essential to recognize that you do not have to go through this difficult time alone. Reach out to a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your situation. Be sure to resist the temptation to explain yourself to the arresting officers, as any statements you make will likely be used to build a case against you. Instead, exercise your right to remain silent until you’ve had the opportunity to speak with your attorney. Together, you can explore all of your legal options to determine the most strategic path forward.
If you are facing drug possession charges in Pearland, Brazoria County, or the Houston Area, call the Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, PLLC, right away at (832) 230-0075 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated criminal defense lawyer.