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Defending against Drug Charges in Harris County

The severity of the consequences for a Texas drug possession conviction is well documented. If you are convicted in Harris County, you can face the potential of years behind bars in state or federal prison. While the threat of prison time may be on the front your mind, it's worth noting that there are other significant costs related to a drug possession conviction. Some of those costs are monetary, like fines and court costs. But others are the very real consequences of having a felony conviction on your record. These costs will follow you long after your prison sentence is completed.

What Drug Offenses can you be charged with in Texas?

Drug offenses in Texas encompass a wide variety of offenses. From possession to trafficking to manufacturing, each carries with it different punishment ranges.

Schedule Drug Charges

Schedule Drugs have five categories (identified as Schedule I, Schedule II, Schedule III, Schedule IV and Schedule V). Schedule I drugs are the most severe and Schedule V are the least. Unlike the penalty groups the commissioner is given the grounds for determining which “Schedule” a drug should be placed under.

Schedule I Drugs

Schedule I drugs are perhaps the most straightforward and certainly the most severe of all Texas drugs. For a substance to be classified by the commissioner as a Schedule I substance it must have a tremendously high potential for abuse and there be no accepted medical treatment for the substance. 

Schedule II Drugs

Schedule II drugs both have a high potential for abuse, has an accepted medical use in the United States, but the drug may lead to severe psychological dependence.

Schedule III Drugs

A substance is considered Schedule III if the substance “has a potential for abuse less than that of the substances listed in Schedules I and II” AND “substance has currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States” AND the substance may (important may) “lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.”

Schedule IV Drugs

Same theme. Schedule IV drugs are less likely to abused than Schedule III drugs and have a medical treatment that is accepted by the medical community of the United States.

Schedule V Drugs

Finally, and mercifully, Schedule V drugs has an even lower likelihood of abuse than those in the above category, an accepted medical treatment in U.S. and even more limited chance of physical or psychological abuse. than the other categories. At this point we are talking about level of gradations that those in the medical community might be hesitant to give.

Manufacturing Drug Charges in Texas

Manufacturing means the production, preparation, propagation, compounding, conversion, or processing of a controlled substance other than marihuana, directly or indirectly by extraction from substances of natural origin, independently by means of chemical synthesis, or by a combination of extraction and chemical synthesis, and includes the packaging or repackaging of the substance or labeling or relabeling of its container.

Marijuana Laws in Texas

In Texas marijuana laws are conservatively minded.. Despite recent attempts to legalize the practice, it remains illegal in the state outside of medical marijuana. Keep in mind this is an area of the law that is changing dramatically from month to month and (legislative) session to session. We’ll begin with possession laws and then work our way down.

Marijuana Possession

In Texas, it is currently illegal to possess Marijuana with the only exception being medical marijuana. This is covered in Section 481.121 and requires that the offender “knowingly” possesses the drug. 

If you’re caught possessing two ounces or less of marijuana you’ll be cited with a Class B misdemeanor. This is the least severe drug charge you can receive in the state of Texas. This carries with it a fine of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail.

If you’re caught with an amount of Marijuana that is four ounces or less but more than two ounces you’re now in Class A Misdemeanor territory. For this you can receive a fine of up to $4,000 AND/OR be sentenced to jail for a period of no more than a year.

Crossing the line into felonies comes when the amount of Marijuana on your person is five pounds or less but more than four ounces. This offense is considered a State Felony. If you are caught with 50 pounds or less (but more than five pounds) you can be sentenced to a third degree felony which carries with it a maximum sentence of ten years but no less than two years.

If you’re caught with more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana expect to be sentenced to anywhere between five years and 99 years but no less than five years.

Marijuana Trafficking

Marijuana trafficking is considered when a “person knowingly or knowingly or intentionally delivers marihuana” in the state of Texas. 

A fine of up to $2,000 and/or Sentenced to jail time for a period of up to 180 days in jail if the amount delivered is one-fourth ounce or less and the person committing the offense does not receive remuneration for the marijuana.

If the amount of marijuana delivered is one-fourth ounce or less and the person committing the offense receives payment for the marijuana then you can be fined $4,000 and sentenced to jail for up to a year.

If the amount delivered is five pounds or less but more than one-fourth ounce then the arrested individuals can be sentenced to anywhere between 180 days and two years.

If the amount of marijuana delivered is 50 pounds or less but more than five pounds then one can expect to spend between two and twenty years of jail time. This is considered a felony in the second degree.

If you are accused of delivering more than 50 pounds (but less than 2,000 pounds) of marijuana. This carries with it a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of 99 years in Texas. This is considered a felony in the first degree.

Finally the Texas Department of Criminal Justice may sentence you to life or a period of 99 years (and no less than 10 years) if the amount of marijuana delivered is more than 2,000 pounds.

Cocaine Laws

In Texas, the state is very aggressive about not allowing Cocaine in the state. Unlike Marijuana, where prosecution is unlikely if you have a small amount on your persons, in Texas possession of any amount of Cocaine is an immediate felony. If you’re caught with the substance, you can expect a minimum punishment of two years to life and a fine of anywhere between $10,000 and $250,000.

Less Than One Gram

If caught with less than one gram of Cocaine you’re in State Jail Felony territory which carries with a minimum sentence of 6 months and a maximum of two years in prison.

Between One and Four Grams

Punishments can include a fine of any amount up to $10,000 and include prison (not jail) sentence of up to ten years. This is what’s called a 3rd degree felony and is worse than a State Felony but not as bad as a second degree felony.

More Than Four Grams But Less Than 200

Considered a second degree felony. In Texas, this comes with a punishment of up to twenty years in prison.

More Than 200 Grams but Less Than 400 Grams

This is a first degree felony but the State has written in a special exemption for Cocaine where 400 grams is only the second most severe penalty. This offense carries with it a minimum sentence 10 years in jail and a maximum jail time of 99 years. Additionally this carries a fine of up to $100,000.

More than 400 grams

The maximum punishment for Cocaine possession in Texas, the punishment is similar but adds 5 more years to the minimum jail time. This brings us to a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, a maximum of 99 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

What do I do next?

You must have a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney who is ready to mount an aggressive defense on your behalf. If you have been charged with a drug crime in Harris County contact Attorney Emily Shelton. 

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