Texas has some of the strictest laws and penalties for crimes involving the possession of a controlled substance. Possession of well-known drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and prescription drugs is illegal in Texas. Texas also regulates the possession of the compounds and components used to manufacture controlled substances. The penalties for possession of a controlled substance depend on the type of substance and the amount involved.
Discuss Your Case With a Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with possession of a controlled substance in Texas, your liberty and future are at risk. A drug possession conviction could cause you to have a criminal record and negatively affect your ability to find employment and obtain housing. A single drug possession conviction could lead to a mandatory six-month suspension of your driver’s license, jail time, and fines. The sooner you discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, the better. Contact Ceja Law Firm PLLC today to schedule your initial consultation.
The Crime of Possession of a Controlled Substance
In Texas, prosecutors must show that the defendant exercised control, management, care, or custody over a controlled substance. In other words, the prosecutor must show that the defendant knowingly possessed a substance outlawed by Texas law.
The Texas Controlled Substances Act
The Texas Controlled Substances Act defines which drugs are illegal in Texas. Controlled substances are categorized into four separate groups based on their alleged addictiveness and lethality. Marijuana is excluded from these groups because it is in a separate category. Penalty Group 1 includes drugs that are the most addicting, dangerous, and have the fewest medical uses.
Penalty Group 4 includes mixtures or compounds that can be used to create prescription or narcotic drugs. If you’ve been charged with possession of a controlled substance in group 4, you may assume that the penalties won’t be severe. However, even though drugs in Penalty Group 4 have the most lenient sentencing ranges, you could still serve a significant prison time if convicted, especially if there are penalty enhancements involved. Texas groups the following commonly known drugs as follows:
- Penalty Group 1: cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, opium, ketamine, methadone
- Penalty Group 2: psychedelic mushrooms, ecstasy, psilocybin, amphetamine
- Penalty Group 3: Xanax, Ritalin, Valium, clonazepam, and under 300 mg of hydrocodone
- Penalty Group 4: mixtures or compounds containing small amounts of active medical ingredients or narcotics
Penalties for Possession of a Controlled Substance
The penalty for the crime depends on the type and amount of drugs involved: the less dangerous the drug, the less severe the penalty. For example, possession of fewer than two ounces of marijuana carries a maximum prison sentence of six months. More than two ounces of marijuana possession could be considered possession with intent to deliver, a crime that carries harsher penalties.
A conviction of possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1 carries a sentence of between six months and life in prison. If you are convicted of possession of a substance in Penalty Group 1, you will face a maximum fine of $100,000, except for hallucinogens and LSD. Possession of these drugs carries a maximum fine of $250,000.
Those convicted of possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 3 or 4 typically face misdemeanor charges when they possess less than 28 grams. When a defendant is in possession of over 20 grams of a Penalty Group 3 or 4 drug, they will be charged with a felony that could lead to a sentence of up to life in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
Defenses to Possession of a Controlled Substance Charge
Every case is unique and requires a unique legal defense strategy. Unfortunately, many public defenders are overworked and have a massive caseload, making it difficult for them to give each client the attention their case deserves. The criminal defense lawyers at Ceja Law Firm PLLC provide every client the attention they deserve. We take the time to understand the evidence against our clients and determine the best legal strategy possible. There are many legal defenses to drug crime charges, depending on the facts of your case.
Lack of Knowledge of Drug Possession
Prosecutors must prove that you knew that you were in possession of a controlled substance. If you were not aware that the drugs were in your possession you could argue that the prosecution cannot convince you.
Valid Medical Prescription
If you have a valid medical prescription for the drug in question, prosecutors cannot convict you of a drug crime. You will need to prove that a medical doctor gave you a valid prescription before being arrested and charged.
Under Texas law, prosecutors must prove that you had a “usable” amount of the drug in question. Typically, this means that you were in possession of enough of the drug to allow for laboratory testing. In some cases, the amount of narcotics involved is too minuscule for laboratory technicians to test the substance accurately.
Finally, law enforcement officers and prosecutors cannot violate a suspect’s constitutional rights against an unlawful search or seizure. For example, when police officers pull drivers over and search their vehicles, they must have enough probable cause that the driver committed a crime to do so. Likewise, police officers cannot search your home without a warrant in most cases. When police officers gather evidence after an illegal search and seizure, the defendant’s lawyer can ask the court to throw out any evidence they gathered.
Consult with a Houston Drug Possession Lawyer Today
If you or your loved one have been charged with drug possession in Texas, you need a criminal defense lawyer who will vigorously defend you. Contact Ceja Law Firm PLLC today to schedule your initial consultation and learn more about how we can advocate for your rights and the best outcome possible in your case.