Drug conspiracy is not an uncommon charge in Texas. Unfortunately, not everyone arrested for drug conspiracy has committed the crime. Every year, law-abiding citizens are arrested for drug conspiracy. Sometimes police officers hope they can use the criminal charge to threaten suspects and obtain information from them.
Contact a Drug Conspiracy Defense Attorney in Houston
If you have been charged with drug conspiracy, remember that you have the right to remain silent. You also have the right to contact an experienced Houston drug crimes attorney. At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we have a proven track record of defending clients just like you have been charged with a wide range of drug-related crimes. We will review your case and challenge the prosecutor’s case to obtain the best outcome possible. Contact Ceja Law Firm PLLC today to schedule your case evaluation.
What Is Drug Conspiracy?
Drug conspiracy can be charged as a state or federal crime in Texas. Whether or not the crime will be prosecuted at a state or federal level depends on the type of drugs and the number of drugs in question. Additionally, if the alleged activity expanded outside Texas, you may face federal charges. In some cases, prosecutors will file a drug conspiracy charge independently. In other cases, drug conspiracy will be one of several different criminal charges, including the crime subject to conspiracy.
Texas Drug Conspiracy Charges
The Texas Penal Code § 15.02 provides that a person commits criminal conspiracy, if
- he agrees with one or more persons that they or one or more of them engage in conduct that would constitute the offense; and
- he or one or more of them performs an overt act in pursuance of the agreement
Additionally, the suspect must have the intent that a felony is committed. In Texas, the prosecution must prove that the suspect engaged in an “overt” act while pursuing the agreement to commit a felony. The overt act doesn’t need to be committed by the defendant. Instead, it could be completed by the other party to the conspiracy. In this case, a defendant could still be charged with conspiracy and face the same penalties as the party who did commit the overt act. Even if the defendant doesn’t participate in the underlying crime, he or she can still be charged with drug conspiracy if the crime was accomplished.
Federal Drug Conspiracy Charges
In Texas, conspiracy with the intent to distribute drugs is one of the most commonly prosecuted federal charges. The crime of conspiracy with the intent to distribute drugs involves a person knowingly or intentionally taking action:
- To manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance; or
- To create, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to distribute or dispense, a counterfeit substance.
Federal law states that someone who attempts or conspires to commit a drug crime can be subjected to the same penalties as those who are charged with the underlying offense. For example, a person charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs will face the same penalties as someone charged with drug distribution.
The penalties for drug conspiracy are serious and depend on whether the defendant is facing a state or federal charge. The range of punishment possible in these types of cases is wide. Those convicted of federal charges also face forfeiture and seizure of property, long-term incarceration from one year to life, and high fines of up to $25 million if you are an individual and not a criminal organization.
The severity of the penalty depends on which type of controlled substances are involved, the defendant’s criminal record, and whether or not there are any enhancement circumstances. An example of an enhancement circumstance would be a conspiracy to distribute drugs in a school zone. Under federal law, a defendant facing drug conspiracy charges will face the same penalties as the underlying drug charge. However, in Texas, the penalties for drug conspiracy are one category lower than the most serious felony that is the object of the conspiracy.
For example, if someone was charged with conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kg of marijuana, they’d face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years up to life in prison for a first offense in federal court. The fine could be more than four million dollars if the person is an individual and 10 million dollars if the person was working with a criminal organization. The same crime in Texas is considered an enhanced first-degree felony. 1 category below is a first-degree felony. As a result, the defendant would face a minimum of five years, but no more than life in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000, if convicted.
Defenses Against Charges
The prosecution has the burden to prove that you have met all of the elements of a drug conspiracy charge to convict you. They must do so beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a difficult burden to meet. The prosecution will need to prove that you agreed to commit a criminal act, knowing that the act was illegal, with at least one other person.
If you’ve been charged under Texas law, the state needs to prove that at least one person to the criminal agreement made an overt step towards committing the crime. A defense attorney will work with you to determine where the prosecutor’s case is the weakest and whether the state has engaged in any violations of your civil rights.
Discuss Your Case With a Houston Drug Conspiracy Attorney
If you are facing state or federal drug conspiracy charges in Houston, you shouldn’t take these charges lightly. You could be facing years of incarceration and steep fines if you are convicted. The attorneys at Ceja Law Firm PLLC have the insight, skill, and experience to provide you with the best legal defense possible. Contact Ceja Law Firm PLLC today to schedule your initial consultation and learn more about how we can provide you with an excellent legal defense