Houston Drug Possession Attorney

Man with tattooed arms being hand-cuffed by a police officer for suspected illegal drug possession in Houston TX

In the interest of protecting its citizens, the state of Texas classifies a number of substances as illegal. These are called controlled substances. Possessing any of these controlled substances without a valid prescription is punishable by jail time as well as criminal fines. The punishment for possession of a controlled substance varies greatly depending on the type of substance or drug involved and the amount found in your possession. 

Ceja Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm with the knowledge and skills to represent you if you are charged with drug possession or possession of a controlled substance. Our attorneys have experience prosecuting and defending drug crimes and will aggressively fight to protect your rights through all stages of your case. 

Drug Possession Defined

Like many other states, Texas recognizes the act of possessing a controlled substance as a crime. Texas statutes define possession as the actual care, custody, control, or management of an item or object. This generally means having physical possession or otherwise exercising dominion and control over the illegal substance. Possession must be with knowledge or intentional, meaning you must be aware that the substance is present and within your control or you must intend to possess the substance.

The most basic form or possession is to have illegal substances on your person, either in your hand, pocket, or otherwise concealed. The definition becomes broader when applying the exercise of dominion or control. This extends possession to illegal substances in a backpack, bag, package, room, drawer, or vehicle. Essentially any location you generally have direct control over.

Controlled Substances Recognized by Texas Statute

Controlled substances are regulated by the Texas Controlled Substances Act. The Controlled Substances Act divides all controlled substances up into one of six categories called penalty groups. Punishment for possession of a controlled substance varies by which penalty group the substance falls into. 

Penalty Group 1

Penalty Group 1 carries the harshest punishments for possession as the substances are considered the most dangerous. Substances classified in Penalty Group 1 include opioids such as codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone as well as methamphetamine, ketamine, and other hallucinogens. 

Possession of any substance falling into Penalty Group 1 is a felony, with the punishment depending on the amount in possession. For the smallest quantities, punishment ranges from between 180 days to two years in jail. For larger quantities intended for distribution, punishment ranges between 15 and 99 years in jail. Fines of up to $100,000 may also be imposed.

Penalty Group 1-A

Penalty Group 1-A is a group specifically categorizing LSD and LSD derivatives as a controlled substance. The group is specially created because LSD is measured in different units than other controlled substances in Penalty Group 1.  

Possession of any substance falling into Penalty Group 1-A is a felony, with the punishment depending on the amount in possession. For the smallest quantities, punishment ranges from 180 days to 2 years in jail. For larger quantities intended for distribution, punishment ranges from 15 to 99 years in jail. Fines of up to $250,000 may also be imposed.

Penalty Group 2

Substances classified in Penalty Group 2 include hallucinogenic drugs such as ecstasy, PCP, and peyote. Possession of any substance falling into Penalty Group 2 is a felony, with the punishment depending on the amount in possession. For the smallest quantities, punishment ranges from between 180 days to 2 years in jail. For larger quantities intended for distribution, punishment ranges between 5 and 99 years in jail. Fines of up to $50,000 may also be imposed.

Penalty Group 2-A

Substances classified in Penalty Group 2-A include synthetic or artificial chemical compounds that induce highs similar to marijuana or cannabinoids. Possession of any substance falling into Penalty Group 2-A is either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the amount in possession. 

Possessing two ounces or less of a Penalty Group 2-A substance is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by no more than 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Possessing between two and four ounces is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by no more than one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. Possessing any amount of a Penalty Group 2-A substance greater than four ounces is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Penalty Group 3 

Substances classified in Penalty Group 3 include opioids that are not explicitly categorized in Penalty Group 1 such as benzodiazepines, anabolic steroids and other prescription stimulants or depressants. 

Possessing twenty-eight grams or less of a Penalty Group 3 substance is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by no more than one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. Possessing any amount of a Penalty Group 2-A substance greater than twenty-eight grams is a felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

Penalty Group 4

Substances classified in Penalty Group 4 include prescription or other compounded drugs made up of opium, codeine, and other controlled substances. These substances are generally medications that have high potential for abuse or are not otherwise categorized in any other penalty group. 

Possessing 28 grams or less of a Penalty Group 4 substance is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by no more than 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Possessing any amount of a Penalty Group 4 substance greater than 28 grams is a felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. 

Marijuana Drug Possession

Texas statute classifies the possession of marijuana differently than other controlled substances and lesser amounts are treated as a misdemeanor. Possession of two ounces of marijuana or less is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by no more than 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Possession of between two and four ounces of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by no more than one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. Possession of any quantity of marijuana greater than four ounces is a felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

Defenses to Drug Possession

One of the most common defenses to a possession of a controlled substance charge is that the police violated a defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights by conducting an illegal search and seizure. Another common defense is proving that you did not actually possess the controlled substance, either having it in your physical possession or by having control over it in your vicinity (called constructive possession). Additionally, it can sometimes be successfully argued that although you may have had possession of contraband, you did not knowingly possess it. 

Texas statutes provide that a defendant is not liable for possession if he or she has a lawful prescription for any controlled substance or the substance was exempt pursuant to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. 355.

Other defenses include wrongful identification, mistake, or failure to meet all the elements of the crime of possession of a controlled substance.

Contact Our Hoston Drug Possession Attorney Today

If you are charged with possession of a controlled substance, from marijuana to meth, you are entitled to the presumption of innocence and the opportunity to defend yourself. The Ceja Law Firm has a proven track record of assisting people charged with possession of drugs and other substances.

Attorney Jose Ceja spent several years working as a drug prosecutor and has handled hundreds of drug-related cases in his career. He has extensive experience in both criminal prosecution and defense and understands the complexities of the prohibitions against possession of a controlled substance. As a client of Ceja Law Firm, you gain a professional on your side, dedicated to obtaining the best outcome for you.