Although some states are examining their statutes regarding drug and controlled substances, Texas continues to impose strict penalties on those convicted of drug-related offenses. Even the possession of a small amount of a controlled substance can lead to significant consequences, such as jail time, costly fines, and other restrictions on your freedom and future. If Texas law enforcement has arrested you for drug possession, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and anxious about how this incident will affect your immediate and long-term future. Your first step should be to contact a skilled Pearland criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your situation. In some cases, law enforcement may have violated your Constitutional rights. If this happened to you, your attorney could use this information to defend you from these charges and, if possible, have the charges dropped or dismissed altogether.
How Texas Prosecutes Drug Crimes
Texas law groups controlled substances into different classifications, known as schedules. The lower the number, the more the substance may lead to abuse or addiction (i.e., cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, etc.). Higher schedules include certain prescription medications that are regulated somewhat by the government, but individuals may still abuse them (i.e., codeine, opioids, etc.). Although several states have legalized marijuana use, Texas has not, meaning that it is still considered a controlled substance under Texas drug laws. Essentially, two primary considerations affect the nature of Texas drug crimes—the amount of the drug and the type of illegal activity occurring at the time of the incident.
Quantity of the Controlled Substance
As Texas prosecutors decide what charges to bring against someone accused of a drug-related offense, they will consider the amount of the drug involved in the incident. Responding officers or investigators will measure the number of plants, the weight of the controlled substances, or attempt to quantify the drugs in some way. In general, larger quantities of a controlled substance lead to more severe charges and criminal penalties.
The Nature of the Illegal Activity
Drug possession is considered a milder crime than drug trafficking or manufacturing, so these offenses tend to carry less severe criminal penalties. Crimes like drug trafficking and drug manufacturing impact more individuals than the person in possession of a controlled substance, so Texas drug laws adopt a harsher approach to these crimes because of their far-reaching effects.
Defensive Strategies for Drug Crime Charges in Texas
When law enforcement arrests you for an alleged criminal offense, they must adhere to several rules and laws that protect the rights of United States citizens. However, this does not mean that violations never happen. In fact, several drug-related arrests and investigations may violate the defendant’s rights, ultimately invalidating the criminal justice process. Below are just a few of the ways that your rights may have been violated during your arrest for a suspected drug-related offense.
Unlawful Search and Seizure
If law enforcement subjects you to unlawful search and seizure, you should immediately notify your criminal defense attorney. Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, citizens enjoy legal protection from illegal searches and seizures. For instance, police officers cannot barge into your home without probable cause to look for illegal substances. Additionally, if a police officer pulls you over for a broken taillight and decides to search it for controlled substances without probable cause, this is unlawful. However, it’s essential to note that if the officer sees controlled substances or drug paraphernalia in plain view, they may search your vehicle and potentially place you under arrest for drug possession. If you suspect that Texas law enforcement officials violated your rights in some way, discuss your concerns with your criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Using Excessive Force
The national spotlight on law enforcement’s right to use force when pursuing or arresting a suspect continues to evolve. In Texas, police and other law enforcement agents have the right to use “reasonable and necessary force” against those who resist arrest. Still, the amount of force they use must be proportional to the force the suspect is using. If you are cooperating and not actively resisting your arrest, police officers have no right to use excessive force against you. Should you believe that the arresting officer used excessive force to subdue you, discuss your concerns with your criminal defense lawyer.
Denying You the Right to Remain Silent
The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects defendants from incriminating themselves. Arresting officers must inform you of your right to remain silent, and they must honor your choice to exercise this right. Unfortunately, many law enforcement officers attempt to coax you into “explaining your side of the story,” claiming to be “on your side,” when their actual goal is to use any statements you make to build their case against you. Whether the arresting officers failed to read you your Constitutional rights or they bullied you into making incriminating statements, your criminal defense attorney will determine the most strategic path forward.
If you are facing drug-related charges in Pearland, Brazoria County, or the surrounding Houston area, call the Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, PLLC, today at (832) 230-0075 to schedule a free consultation with a trusted criminal defense lawyer.