Small bag of cocaine on a granite table top

Will I go to jail for first-time possession of cocaine in Houston?

In the Houston area, possession of cocaine is one of the most commonly filed drug possession charges. All possession of cocaine cases are felonies with the potential for jail time, fines, and a permanent criminal record. The penalties for possession of cocaine vary based on the amount a person is alleged to have possessed and can also be affected by other factors, such as a person’s criminal history. 

Although all possession of cocaine charges are felonies and a jail sentence is theoretically possible, it is very unusual for a first-time offender to be sentenced to jail for possession of a small amount of cocaine in Houston. The Harris County District Attorney’s office generally takes a progressive approach to many drug possession cases and is often willing to help a person avoid a permanent felony conviction. If you have been charged with possession of cocaine in Houston, the goal is to do everything possible to protect your record.

What are the penalties for possession of cocaine in Texas?

In Texas, controlled substances are divided into penalty groups with chemically similar substances. According to Texas Health and Safety Code 481.102(D), cocaine is considered a Penalty Group I substance. The penalties for cocaine possession are based on the weight of the substance, including adulterants and dilutants. Under Texas Health and Safety Code 481.115, cocaine possession is subject to the following penalties:

  • Less than one gram: State jail felony punishable by 180 to 2 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • 1 to 4 grams: Third-degree felony punishable by 2-10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • 4 grams to 200 grams: Second-degree felony publishable by 2-20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • 200 grams to 400 grams: First-degree felony punishable by 5-99 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • More than 400 grams: Punishable by 10-99 years and a fine of up to $10,000. 

What happens if an undocumented person is arrested for cocaine in Houston?

In addition to potential criminal penalties, a person who is not a United States citizen, or undocumented, may face steep immigration consequences if they are arrested for possession of cocaine. These can include deportation or loss of legal status. Although Ceja Law Firm does not practice immigration law, we regularly handle cocaine possession cases involving undocumented immigrants and it is always our goal to protect our clients’ immigration status. At Ceja Law Firm, we work alongside the best immigration lawyers in Houston to ensure that everything is done to protect our clients’ future in the United States after an arrest for possession of cocaine. The drug possession attorneys at Ceja Law Firm are all fluent in Spanish. 

How will my possession of cocaine case be resolved in Houston?

The goal of any possession of cocaine charge should always be a dismissal and an expunction of the charge. However, it is impossible to predict at the outset how a possession of cocaine charge will be resolved. 

In any criminal case, the first thing your attorney needs to do is obtain all of the evidence in the case. Once your attorney has the evidence, he will be able to evaluate the case and figure out the best way to fight the charges. There are many strategies available to fight a possession of cocaine case. The most common strategies involve arguing that some part of the detention or search that led to the discovery of cocaine was illegal, or that the police have not established that the person knowingly possessed cocaine. It is the job of a drug attorney to thoroughly and aggressively challenge the facts of the case. 

In Houston, even where the facts do not appear to be in a defendant’s favor, it is often possible to negotiate a dismissal of a first-time possession of cocaine charge that involves a small amount of cocaine. Many first-time drug possession cases are even transferred to a special court where it is possible to obtain agreements that result in the dismissal of the charges. 

Attorney Jose Ceja is a former drug prosecutor who has handled thousands of drug cases in his career. He is well-versed in all aspects of handling drug cases and is an excellent choice if you have been arrested for possession of any controlled substance in Houston.