How Severe is a Drug Possession Charge in Texas?
The criminal penalties for a drug possession charge in Texas can be serious, and the lingering ramifications can also impact your personal and professional life. You may be looking at hefty fines, jail time, rehabilitation programs, community service, and other court-ordered punishment. The exact consequences depend on the type and quantity of drug(s) involved, whether you have a history of drug convictions, and other factors.
It is critical to thoroughly understand the scope of your charges and the potential penalties you may face if you are convicted. A knowledgeable Texas drug possession defense attorney can provide the skilled legal guidance you need to make sense of your situation and determine your best options for fighting a possession charge.
How is Drug Possession Determined?
The prosecution in a drug possession case must be able to clearly prove that you knowingly had personal possession or control over the substance in question. Prosecutors must also show that you knew the substance was a drug. The law also differentiates between simple possession, which is possession of an illegal drug for personal use, and possession with the intent to distribute, which means you meant to sell, give away, or deliver the illicit substance. Penalties for distribution are generally much harsher than those for simple possession.
Possession can become a surprisingly complex issue because it can cover more than just items found on your person. It can also include “constructive possession” of illegal substances. If you are charged with constructive possession, you may face penalties for drugs found in your home, your belongings, or another area where you could access or control them.
How Does Texas Group Their Penalties for Drug Possession?
The Texas Controlled Substances Act sorts illegal drugs into six main groups based on their classification. Each of these groups has sentencing guidelines attached to it. Drugs considered the most addictive or harmful are classified into the lower group numbers. However, the system can be somewhat confusing because some substances can be classified into more than one category.
Penalty Group 1
The drugs included in this group are considered the most dangerous and addictive, such as methamphetamines, opium, ketamine, psilocybin (mushrooms), heroin, and cocaine. It also covers prescription opiates, such as oxycodone. Possession of a Penalty Group 1 substance is always a felony charge. Even having less than one gram in your possession can result in a 180-day to two-year state jail sentence and up to a $10,000 fine. Large amounts may result in longer sentences from two to 99 years and fines up to $300,000.
Penalty Group 1-A
This is a subgroup of Penalty Group 1 that is reserved for LSD because the quantity of LSD is measured differently than other drugs. Instead of grams, LSD is measured in units, which are typically small squares of paper soaked in the drug. Possession of LSD or any of its derivatives is also a felony, and the penalties for both small and larger amounts are similar to Penalty Group 1.
Penalty Group 2
Many types of hallucinogens fall into this group, including MDMA, peyote, ecstasy, and others. Amphetamine salts (Adderall) and Cannabis oil are also included in this group. For possession of under a gram of these substances, you will face a felony charge which is punishable by 180 days to two years in state jail and up to a $10,000 fine. Jail time and fines increase as the quantity increases.
Penalty Group 2-B
There has been an uptick in the manufacture and use of synthetic cannabinoid drugs, including Spice and K2. These drugs have their own classification. Possession of less than four ounces is a misdemeanor, while any amount over this will generally be charged as a felony.
Penalty Group 3
This group includes the illegal possession of prescription drugs not listed under the other penalty groups, including Xanax, anabolic steroids, Ritalin, Valium, certain opiates, and more. A conviction for small amounts of these drugs without a valid prescription is a misdemeanor that can result in up to one year in county jail and a maximum fine of $4,000. However, possession of large quantities over 28 grams is a felony.
Penalty Group 4
Other prescription drugs that could be misused and chemical compounds used for making drugs are included in this group. The penalties for possession are similar to Penalty Group 3, with small amounts resulting in a Class B Misdemeanor and amounts over 28 grams constituting a felony.
What About Marijuana?
Marijuana is classified differently under Texas law, but there are still consequences for possession. Having less than two ounces of marijuana is a Class B Misdemeanor, and you could be sentenced to up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine. The penalties increase as the weight increases, and possession of more than four ounces is charged as a felony.
How Can an Experienced Drug Possession Defense Lawyer Help You?
A conviction for drug possession can affect your life in multiple ways. Many people are most concerned about the potential criminal penalties, but having a record can also harm your career, hamper your finances, prevent you from voting or owning a firearm, and may damage your relationships and family ties. Don’t allow a drug possession charge to derail your life. A skilled defense lawyer from The Greening Law Group can help you navigate the legal process and uphold your rights. Contact our law firm today at (979) 596-4088 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options.