Drug charges are among the most common types of criminal charges. Texas has a high number of drug arrests, amounting to about 17% of the nation’s total. Criminal charges for possession or trafficking of drugs are serious. There are harsh penalties in place for those convicted of drug charges in Texas. Some types of drug charges are more severe than others and the penalties can vary widely based on the details of your case. Any type of drug conviction could result in a criminal record which could limit your ability to get a job, attend college, or rent an apartment. An experienced drug charges attorney in Brownsville, Texas, will help defend you and protect your rights.
Drug Possession Charges
Possession of controlled substances is a crime. If you are found to have drugs in your possession, you could be arrested and charged with a crime. Drug charges are based on the type of substance that you possess and the amount that you have in your possession. Drug possession is the least severe of drug charges because the amount of illegal substance is minimal. There are two main considerations for the severity of charges, including the type of substance and the amount of substance in your possession.
The Texas Controlled Substances Act classifies controlled substances into penalty groups by the substance type, potential harm, and level of addiction they pose. In general, the groups consist of:
Penalty Group 1 and Penalty Group 1A - Heroin, cocaine, and LSD
Penalty Group 2 - Ecstasy, PCP (phencyclidine), and psychedelic mushrooms
Penalty Group 3 - Valium, Xanax, and Ritalin
Penalty Group 4 - Opioids, codeine, and other compounds
Marijuana - Still an illegal substance but in a category of its own
Substances in Penalty Group 1 are the most serious substances, while Penalty Group 4 is the least serious. Penalty Group 1 substances are the most harmful and have the highest level of potential addiction. Prescription drugs are generally legal as long as you have a valid prescription and take them according to directions. In the case of prescriptions, you must have the bottle with your correct name and information on it.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Drug paraphernalia refers to any equipment that you may use with drugs. Federal Law defines drug paraphernalia as “any equipment, product, or material of any kind which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the body a controlled substance.” Some examples of common drug paraphernalia include pipes, bongs, spoons, needles, and scales, among others. You may be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia along with drug possession or trafficking charges.
Drug Trafficking Charges
If you are found to be in possession of a large amount of illegal substances, you could be charged with drug trafficking, drug manufacturing, or delivery. Drug trafficking is also called intent to distribute. This means that you have more illegal substances than you should have for personal use. The law provides for the specific amount of illegal substances considered for personal use. Law enforcement will measure or weigh the substance to determine whether it is over the limit for personal use.
Penalties for Drug Charge Convictions
Penalties for drug charge convictions can range greatly based on the severity of the crime. A drug crime may be either a misdemeanor or a felony. The punishment for a Class B misdemeanor drug charge includes a jail sentence of up to 180 days and fines of up to $2,000. If convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, the sentence will be up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
Felony charges may apply based on the classification and amount of illegal substances. A felony may be either a state or federal offense. There are varying degrees of felony charges. A state felony charge will result in at least 180 days and no more than two years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Federal felony charges may be first, second, or third degree. A third-degree felony conviction has a sentence of one to three years in prison. A second-degree felony conviction results in between two and 20 years in prison. A third-degree felony, the most serious, could result in a sentence of at least five years and up to life in prison. Most drug trafficking and distribution charges are felonies.
Additional penalties that may apply to a drug conviction include a requirement to attend a substance abuse program, community service, and probation, among others. All convictions will be on your criminal record. A felony conviction, in particular, has a lasting impact on your life. The judge will evaluate the crime and any mitigating and aggravating factors when determining the sentence.
Defending Drug Charges
Drug charges have serious consequences if you are convicted. For that reason, it is necessary to defend drug charges with help from a knowledgeable Brownsville, Texas, drug charges attorney. Your lawyer will review the charges along with all aspects of the search and arrest. There are some ways to fight drug charges. In some cases, if the evidence is weak, your attorney may be able to help get the charges reduced or dismissed. When evidence was gathered illegally, it cannot be used as evidence and your lawyer will enter a motion to suppress. However, there could still be enough evidence to garner a conviction.
Many criminal cases end with a plea agreement. The prosecutor may agree to a plea bargain for reasons such as if the case is weak or if you have a clean criminal history. A plea bargain allows you to plead guilty to lesser charges and accept the penalty that comes with them. This can be helpful in some, but not all, cases. Before you accept a plea agreement you will want to discuss the matter with your criminal attorney.
You do not need to face criminal drug charges alone. Facing a drug charge is a formidable challenge, and you need a skilled drug crimes defense lawyer. At Sosa Law, we have the experience and knowledge necessary to represent you in drug charge cases. We defend all types of criminal charges including drug-related cases. Contact Sosa Law for a free consultation at (956) 317-5443 today.