The moment that Texas law enforcement places you under arrest can be overwhelming and stressful. Your first impulse may be to resist the arrest as you attempt to explain that a misunderstanding has occurred. However, the best way you can protect yourself and your legal rights is to cooperate with the arresting officer and exercise your right to remain silent until you’ve had the opportunity to discuss your situation with an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer. Whether you are facing drug charges for the first time or have previous drug-related arrests, charges, or convictions on your record, contact a trusted and skilled attorney immediately to maximize your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome. In the meantime, it’s helpful to recognize some of the potential penalties you could face if convicted of a drug offense in Pearland or South Houston.
How Texas Classifies Drug-Related Charges
It’s important to recognize that Texas imposes some of the strictest penalties for drug crimes in the country. Although some states have taken steps in recent years to reform the way they prosecute drug offenses, Texas remains vigilant in imposing severe penalties on those found guilty of drug possession, drug trafficking, or drug manufacturing crimes. Essentially, the nature of the penalty depends on the type of the controlled substance, the amount of the drug, and the alleged offense (i.e., whether you intended to sell or manufacture the controlled substance). Let’s take a closer look at these factors and how they influence the potential consequences you could face if convicted of a drug-related offense.
Understanding the Penalty Groups
The Texas Controlled Substances Act sets forth four “Penalty Groups” to classify drugs and controlled substances. Penalty Group 1 includes heavily regulated substances that are considered the most dangerous and addictive, such as cocaine, heroin, LSD, and methamphetamine. Penalty Group 2 drugs include ecstasy, psychedelic mushrooms, and PCP, while Penalty Group 3 applies to Ritalin, Valium, anabolic steroids, and other similar substances. Substances that are considered less dangerous, such as several forms of prescription medications that carry the potential for abuse (like opioid derivatives), are included in Penalty Group 4. Generally, an offense involving a Penalty Group 1 substance carries a heavier penalty than an offense involving a controlled substance from Penalty Group 4.
The Quantity of the Substance Matters
The severity of a penalty for drug possession will vary significantly, depending on the classification and the quantity of the controlled substance in question. For instance, possession of a relatively small quantity (less than one gram) of a Penalty Group 1 substance is punishable by up to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000. In contrast, possession of fewer than 28 grams of a Penalty Group 4 substance is considered a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.
Possession, Distribution, or Manufacturing Offenses
For the most part, drug possession offenses carry less severe penalties than crimes involving the distribution or manufacturing of controlled substances. However, it’s essential to recognize that Texas prosecutors will often attempt to use circumstantial evidence to elevate possession charges to a distribution or manufacturing offense. For example, they may claim that there were several plastic baggies, small scales, or other items at the scene that suggest you intended to distribute the controlled substance. Working with a seasoned criminal defense attorney is the best way to help you prepare your defense against these elevated charges.
What About Marijuana Offenses?
Although several states have decriminalized or even legalized the use of recreational marijuana, Texas has not followed suit. If law enforcement finds any amount of marijuana on your person or in your vehicle, you may face criminal charges. While most marijuana possession charges are considered misdemeanor offenses, they still have the potential to negatively impact your future and your freedom. Contact a trusted Texas criminal defense lawyer right away to discuss your case.
Keeping Your Future as Bright as Possible
Facing drug charges is inherently stressful and intimidating. Suddenly, your freedom and future are up in the air, and you may wonder how this event will shape the days, weeks, months, and even years ahead of you. However, before you envision the worst-case scenario, take a deep breath and contact an experienced and trusted Pearland criminal defense lawyer who can assess every detail of your case and determine the most strategic path forward. Now is not the time to leave your future up to chance—reach out to an aggressive and caring attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights remain protected at every step of the legal process.
If you are facing drug charges in Pearland or Brazoria County, call the Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, PLLC, at (832) 230-0075 to schedule a free consultation with a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney.